Harbor Real Estate Partners with Prestige Advocates & Legal Consultants

Dubai, December 27, 2009 – Harbor Real Estate, an integrated Real Estate service provider in Dubai, announced the signing of a professional services agreement with Prestige Advocates & Legal Consultants, a leading global law firm, to provide counselling to all Harbor clients and representation in all legal matters concerning real estate in Dubai.

The profound perception of the industry and the daily interface with real estate clientele has resulted in the espousal of a fresh innovative legal counselling scheme. According to a recent study conducted by Harbor research division, the majority of people perceive legal counselling as an exorbitant service which leaves them with no alternative other than staying unaided and frustrated. For that reason, the innovative legal solution introduced by Harbor & Prestige is viewed as a results-driven method; customers who seek legal counselling will incur minimal fees and no extra charges will be required in case of not winning the case.

Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director of Harbor Real Estate commented: “Lawyers at Prestige are second to none in terms of knowledge and experience, both locally and internationally. The combined real estate experience of Harbor and Prestige and the comprehensive understanding of the wide array of Real Estate issues in the UAE enable us to provide clear candid counsel and guidance to clients at all times to ensure that their rights are always protected”

“The legal services introduction is vital as the real estate market matures through the current economic crisis to become a more structured and regulated market,” Said Dr, Ali Al Jarman, Legal Partner of Harbor and founder of Prestige. “One of the objectives we aim to achieve through this partnership is to increase the public’s understanding of the law’s procedures and implications which will eventually help reduce the number of cases filed and will boost the overall confidence in the market.”

According to sources from RERA, the number of cases filed in Q1 2009 has increased by 55% compared to Q4 of 2008. The drastic increase in the number of disputes is a result of many reasons ranging from investors not fulfilling their obligations, Sale & Purchase agreements containing provisions that contradict the law about developers not delivering projects on time, and many more.

Harbor Real Estate services have evolved from traditional real estate brokerage of merely bringing buyers and sellers together to innovative world class end-to-end real estate services. The company services include, Real Estate Tailored Research Services, Integrated Marketing Services, Sales, Leasing & Conversion Management Services, Real Estate Investment Portfolio Management Services and, Holistic Real Estate Legal Services.

About Harbor Real Estate

Harbor Real Estate Brokerage is a fully integrated real estate service provider based in Dubai and part of an established world class group of real estate companies since 2001. With a strong reputation and a veteran team with over 15 years of experience in the industry, Harbor Real Estate provides Real Estate Research Services, Integrated Sales & Marketing Services, Sales and Lead Conversion Management Services and Real Estate Investment Portfolio Management Services.

Having served over 5,000 satisfied customers, Harbor has an extensive clientele base that consists of public and private entities, major developers, private and institutional investors and owner-occupiers..
Harbor Real Estate brokerage has a dedicated team of realtors and consultants who are renowned for their expertise, high level of professionalism and insight into local and international markets. The company is committed to providing its customers world class service and innovative real estate solutions.

In 2009, Harbor Real Estate Brokerage established a quarterly real estate report “The Harbor Report”. This candid report covers the latest news, developments and trends in the real estate industry with an in-depth analysis of the latest topics and current affairs.

The Harbor Services include:
REAL ESTATE RESEARCH SERVICES: Harbor believes that fact-based analysis generated from insights emanating from market research is the prerequisite to recommendations and tailor-made solutions that provide optimum results for its clients. Harbor’s market knowledge, experience, industry research and research auditing expertise are proven.

INTEGRATED SALES & MARKETING SERVICES: Developers will benefit from Harbor’s innovative marketing, communication and consulting services. Developed by Harbor’s dedicated experienced marketing & sales professionals, tailor made strategies are formulated to allow developers to fully capitalize on whatever opportunities exist in the marketplace and drive above benchmark results.

SALES AND LEAD CONVERSION MANAGEMENT SERVICES: Harbor’s Sales and Lead Conversion Management process transforms the normally lengthy and complicated transactional procedure into a systematic and disciplined solution. This unique ground-breaking approach fuels greater returns for our clients.

REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO MANAGEMENT SERVICES: The Harbor Team consists of highly experienced and culturally diverse Realtors and consultants. The team prides itself in providing world class consultation services to investors of land, commercial and residential Real Estate in the UAE.

HOLISTIC REAL ESTATE LEGAL SERVICES: The Harbor professionally managed and certified legal arm offers the most experienced property legal services in the region. Its main offices are located in Dubai with associate offices in the GCC and Europe.

For further information, please contact:
Mohanad Alwadiya
Managing Director – Harbor Real Estate
Email: mohanad@harbordubai.com

Shatha Al Khatib
PR Account Manager – Harbor Communications
Mobile: +971 50 2908921
Phone: +971 4 325 1616
Email: shatha@harbordubai.com

or visit:


Local and Federal Authorities Need to Form Much Closer Ties

The UAE real estate sector must have more co-ordination between regulatory bodies in different emirates and the proposed federal real estate regulatory body to tackle various issues concerning the sector, analysts said.

“What the government needs to do is have real estate regulatory bodies of each emirate to liaise with one central regulatory body and the federal immigration department to oversee real estate issues such as visa regulations,” said Chet Riley, Vice-President, Equities Real Estate Analyst, Nomura International.

“Three years ago, people were trying to encourage buyers through visa offers. When the market got overheated, visa rules were tightened. Today there is a lot of confusion over the rules and regulations in the real estate sector regarding visas.”

He said: “A central regulatory body for the oversight of issues such as immigration is probably required to ensure the consistent application of immigration law and prevent forms of regulatory arbitrage related to real estate.

“There are aspects of regulations that we think should remain at the emirate level, which could include dispute resolutions and arbitration, planning consents and associated municipality issues such as infrastructural requirements.”

Emirates Business reported yesterday that the Ajman Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Arra) had submitted a proposal to federal authorities to overhaul current property visa regulations. Arra wants to remove property values, fixed incomes or compulsory exits as criteria for granting or renewing six-month residency visas. 

Ajman’s regulatory body put in a five-point submission and said it should be possible to renew visas every six months for up to three years without the need to leave the country.

Parvees Gafur, Executive Vice-President – Sales, Gowealthy real estate, said: “Co-ordinated efforts are needed between real estate regulatory bodies in various emirates of the country and a central regulatory body that will work in close connection with the immigration department of the country to tackle visa issues of real estate investors.”

“We would even recommend that the immigration department allocate representative resources to each of the real estate regulatory bodies to provide an integrated service package and assist investors with their visa queries promptly,” said Gafur.

He said: “At an operational level, a decentralised approach with individual real estate bodies within each emirate will be far more efficient and effective to govern real estate regulations as each emirate has different challenges, visions and focus. 

“However, a central authority established to monitor the progress of individual bodies will help in guiding various factions towards overall positioning of the emirate to occupy a strategic place within the global economic platform. 

“Such an entity can facilitate best practices and federal-local interactions that can have a positive influence on shaping the overall identity of the emirate.”

Farina Ahmed, CEO, BSEL Infrastructure, an Ajman developer, said: “Any co-ordinated effort taken to bridge gaps in the real estate sector is a welcome move. I believe there should be co-ordinated efforts among different emirates’ regulatory bodies and one central body.” 

Real estate analysts in the UAE have welcomed Arra’s initiative to submit a proposal to the federal government.

Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate, said: “The Arra initiative is a positive move towards attracting foreign investment and boosting the level of confidence among all the relevant stakeholders in the property industry.”

Iseeb Rehman, Managing Director, Sherwoods Independent Property Consultants, said: “The proposal is a positive move. Any effort taken to resolve real estate issues by real estate regulatory bodies is a step in the right direction.”

“In Ajman the real estate sector has been seeing some swift and timely action. The feedback from clients and developers is that Arra is resolving issues quickly and trying to provide clarity.

“Conditions for residing in the UAE is a federal issue, but they need to consider current market climate versus current income situation. Regulators need to be realistic and at the same time appealing to people looking to come to the UAE. If conditions become too stringent it will be harder for people to comply.”

Riley said: “Arra and Rera [Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority] are being relatively proactive in the area of co-ordination, which is a positive step and it is very important to continue dialogues among the six emirates. Under the present circumstances, Arra’s initiative, though in the initial stages, is a step in the right direction. We welcome the initiative to establish visa regulations and think this should be set at a federal level in conjunction with immigration authorities to remove any confusion. Currently, the major challenge faced by the region is one of customer confidence, be it investors, end users or even corporate entities.”

“It would, however, be difficult to have a minimum price level set across the emirates given the disparity of pricing in each area. The key issue that we see is the ability of the applicant to support themselves and their dependants, rather than the value of the property, if they were looking to reside in the country,” said Riley.

“Ajman is a different market from Dubai. Imposing limits across the board will be difficult in all the emirates,” he said.

Gafur said: “The proposal is a first step towards addressing visa issues. If implemented, steps such as these will give further impetus to a larger segment of investors and business entities that have long-term business plans in the region.”

“The minimum criteria for property investment should be looked into very closely and the medium- to long-term impacts of such steps have to be assessed using situational planning and forecasting studies. Investment strata-led visa restrictions, if planned efficiently, could have a positive influence in the market by ensuring the right kind of investments and investors are at play over substantial and optimum time periods.”

The BSEL CEO said: “The six-month visa regulation is not enough for an investor in Ajman. Residency permit should be for three years. With six months’ visa tenure, investors lose faith in the real estate market in Ajman.”

Alwadiya said the property market recovery in the UAE needs to be supported by solid economic drivers and regulations. “The visa issue is one that has placed a lot of pressure on recently retrenched expatriates when trying to find alternative employment or heading home. The Department of Naturalisation and Residency has implemented a law which will grant six-month renewable visa to those who invest in freehold property in the UAE.”

“While this is a positive move to assure potential investors, the six-month period is considered to be too limited a duration to be meaningful to many investors. It is thought the federal law should match the general residency law whereby investors will be eligible for a three-year residency visa provided they visited the emirate at least once every six months. This approach will appear to be far more appealing and enticing for investors,” said Alwadiya.

Gafur said: “Confidence-building measures at the federal and regulatory level is paramount in bringing back faith to the market and spur medium- to long-term investments into the country.”

“Fundamentally, the long-term success of an economy is influenced primarily by the potential of the economy to s
ustain itself on the basis of its inherent resources and the faith of internal and external stakeholders. 

“And this faith is determined by the strength of relevant regulatory systems that shape, manage and control various segments of industry that spur the economy, such as legal systems, banking and financial entities and industry bodies.”

Gafur said with substantially reduced market prices for properties and prevailing investor sentiment as the background, a planned and phased overhaul of visa regulations is critical to the long-term success of the emirate. 

“Visa regulation changes can have immediate and substantial effects on the long-term business and operational sentiment of the investing public and should be approached with extreme care. Ajman has come a long way in stamping its brand of investment potential, especially within the mid-segment of investors from South Asia and the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, this growth has been fraught with teething issues, compounded by the present economic downturn.

“The immediate elements that need to be looked into would be infrastructure – power requirements, for example – and further clarity in regulatory and legal frameworks, especially within the real estate sector,” he said.