FACTORS THAT IMPACT THE REAL ESTATE SECTOR

By: Mohanad Alwadiya
Published: Gulf News Freehold

With the advent of globalization and the exponential rise of cross border capital flows, the number of factors that affect local economies and the industries that operate within those economies has increased dramatically in both number and complexity. Here are some that we will be considering as we advise our clients in 2017.

Oil. Despite the amount of diversification that has occurred in the Dubai economy and the small proportion of Dubai’s GDP that oil represents, the price of oil still affects liquidity levels, oil dependent economy’s performance and overall investor confidence. There is no doubt that that maintaining oil at or above the $50 / barrel for the duration of 2017 will assist in creating market stability.

Currency rates. With anywhere between 40% and 50% of investment in Dubai property coming from investors who usually deal in currencies that are not pegged to the US dollar, any strengthening of the US dollar makes it more difficult to invest in Dubai for those investors. A recent example is the devaluation of the Russian ruble which resulted in Russian investment declining significantly in Dubai’s property market. The USD is likely to strengthen in 2017 as we see the US Federal Reserve continue to raise interest rates and the effect of Trumpenomics and “America First” protectionist policies begin to take effect.

Political instability. Almost omnipresent for well over a decade, the level of political instability in the world today seems unprecedented. From Middle East conflicts, Chinese actions in the South China sea, North Korean nuclear ambitions, Brexit and even significant dissatisfaction with the US election result and subsequent presidential performance, the world is a very unsettled place which leads to investor nervousness. There are no signs that political instability is going to ease any time soon.

Demand and supply. As always, economic fundamental will always play a role in any industry performance. 2017 will see a continuation of balancing of the demand / supply situation in the market as the recent pivot towards affordable properties makes up a greater proportion of deliveries and the demand generated by the rapidly approaching 2020 Global Expo accelerates.

Legal framework. The legal framework that has been developed for the property industry in Dubai has is both comprehensive and effective in protecting the rights of tenants and investors and holding developers to account. Developments will continue in 2017 further increasing the already high levels of confidence among investors with regards to their legal protection and risk minimization.

Mortgage market/ regulations. Historically, mortgages have represented no more than 30%-35% of property sales in the emirate. This ratio has now climbed to well over 45% during 2016 and, in some months, levels of 60+% were achieved.  This is great news for several reasons.

First, this trend highlights both confidence of lenders and consumers, mostly owner occupiers, in the market. The second reason why this is such good news is because we are witnessing, in real time, the market adapting to legislative changes that were made in early 2014. There is no doubt that the implementation of the mortgage caps earlier in 2014 had affected the demand for many first home buyers who were relying on a mortgage to acquire their dream home

Finally, a growing number of mortgages are being undertaken for properties that are purchased in the more affordable areas of Dubai, which further demonstrates the systemic shift to affordable housing in the Dubai property market is becoming even further entrenched as a long-term characteristic.

Confidence levels/ buyer’s sentiment. Confidence levels of investors globally have been shaken by the global events of the past few years. The levels of uncertainty surrounding economic policies, geo-political turmoil and social discontent in many countries around the world has created an environment of indecision amongst investors. Nevertheless, the property industry has weathered this quite well and showed a maturity and flexibility that wasn’t evident earlier in the decade. Sure, prices have declined since 2014, but this has been more because of a much-needed market correction. While global events have had an effect, the market’s resilience has been impressive.

Performance of other investment instruments (stock markets, gold, equities, bonds). There is a global competition for a greater share of the capital pie. Capital will always follow the best risk adjusted returns and movements can be swift and of great magnitude. They can be so dramatic that some governments will restrict capital flows. For example, China recently announced new restrictions on capital flows out of the country. Observations from property industry pundits all around the globe suggest the new restrictions are already putting the brakes on what has been the biggest global real estate accumulation by any nationality in modern times. While Chinese demand will continue to benefit many markets those who had not previously established off-shore assets will find it significantly more difficult to invest beyond Chinese borders until the restrictions are raised.

Infrastructure development / government spending. The ongoing commitment to economic development and the associated infrastructural spending has been well-chronicled. The continuing preparations for the 2020 World Expo will help the local economy achieve around 3.5% GDP growth for the year which is very healthy by global standards.

Taxes and transaction costs (registration and transfer fees, commissions, NOC fees) The costs of transacting in real estate in Dubai compare well globally and no new costs or fees are expected to be introduced in 2017. Somewhat conversely, we expect the slew of offers in the market place designed to increase affordability to continue. Great news for first home buyers and investors.

Annual service charges and overall cost of ownership (utility fees, maintenance, insurance, PM costs) Similarly, the costs of owning and operating property is expected to remain stable and should not affect buyer’s decisions other than normal calculations regarding yields, cashflow and asset protection.

THINGS THAT SUCCESSFUL INVESTORS DON’T DO!

I have been lucky in my professional life to have met and worked with some very successful investors. While I have found each to be different in personality, style and even investment philosophy, there are some attitudes, traits and perspectives that are shared among the most successful investors I have had the privilege to have met.

Thinking back to many interesting discussions I have had with these people … some of whom are my most loyal and respected clients … there a several things that I have not seen from this group of achievers. This is what separates them from the rest.

Never sink into negativity!!

I have rarely heard my successful investors project a negative stance about anything in their professional life. This is not to say that they support every philosophy, concept or idea and they will also not accept an occurrence which is contrary to what they think should have happened.

But instead of expressing such a negative emotion as hate, they continue to think positively and seek positives from a situation or take a positive approach to remedying that which they do not agree with. As a result, the dialogue is always positive, creating an environment positivity, proactivity and energy directed towards progress.

Taking this approach also helps to create a pleasant, purposeful and fruitful environment in which to work and helps to maintain or even build esteem and confidence among those that can contribute to achieving exceptional results. It promotes objectivity, focus and decisiveness.

Never assume the world is fair!!

The world is not a fair place, never has been and never will be, and successful investors understand, embrace and accept that. This allows them to be immune from the negativity that can arise when an individual feels hard done by or cheated. It also allows them to plan, create contingencies and maintain a positive attitude when a seemingly unfair occurrence occurs resulting in a greater chance to respond to a situation rapidly and appropriately rather than dwelling on the fact that an occurrence was “unfair”.

 Never accept that there is only one solution to any one problem!!

An open mind is essential to development, progress and eventual success. Successful investors will embrace new ideas and innovation. To not realise that progress is created from ingredients consisting of past experience and innovation is too rely too heavily on tried and true practices that gradually lose relevance over time. This form of decay has destroyed entrepreneurs, global corporations and even whole economies and societies. With globalization, the world has become a much smaller place. To not embrace, improve and implement world’s best practice and only holding close what you are comfortable is the biggest threat to creating continued success.

Never believe that you are solely responsible for your own success!!

Nobody has ever made it on their own. It was once thought that the iconic, independent, totally self-sufficient, unchallengeable, silent-type, hard-nosed entrepreneur who left metaphorical bodies in his wake as he doggedly climbed the mountain of success was the role model that should be emulated by all who craved achievement. Many have tried and they all failed.

No-one can achieve success on their own. As a matter of fact, the most successful people I have met have surrounded themselves with successful people and ensured that those people shared in their success. They seek opinions, listen carefully, discuss intelligently, consider alternatives and have their decisions reviewed. They reward those who contribute to their achievements and help them succeed as well for this is also a valuable way to learn and build momentum at the same time.

Never abandon the realm of possibility!!

Successful people know that nothing is impossible and hold the belief that every problem has a solution, some of which just haven’t been thought of yet. Anything is possible as long as there is willingness to explore, question and challenge and imagination is intensely applied and ingenuity is rewarded. Achievers do not complain about obstacles. They embrace them so as to gain an understanding as to how they can be overcome for they truly believe that nothing is insurmountable.

Negative words like “can’t,” “won’t,” and “impossible” are never heard from the mouths of unsuccessful individuals. They know complaining will not help them, but actually doing something about the issue at hand will.

Never look back!!

Could have… would have … should have. We have all heard these expressions of retrospective folly. Experts in hindsight have no place at the table of successful people and regret is a fruitless and pointless emotion. Successful people thrive on opportunities not lost opportunities. If they cannot make one opportunity work to their satisfaction, they move on and find another opportunity. Regret simply slows down the effective pursuit of the next great opportunity.

Never accept the unpalatable as inevitable!!

Victims have no choice. Successful investors create alternative solutions to every problem and will carefully consider all of them. In this way, successful investors are never victims for they create an environment filled with choices. Then it’s just a matter of deciding which choice represents the best way forward.

Successful investors know how to create opportunities where normal people think none seemingly exist. Successful investors believe that opportunities always will exist, but they are hidden in the recesses of our individual and collective imaginations. The reason why there are successful, is largely due to their determination and ability to extract those opportunities, while others are stagnating in the belief that they don’t exist!!

ASK THE AGENT

By: Mohanad Alwadiya
Published: Gulf News
Dated: 06 August 2016

Question: As a new investor venturing into the UAE property market, how do I know if my property consultant is giving me correct information and the best advice?

If you have the feeling that your property consultant is not representing your best interest, I suggest you have a meeting with him and request a justification and rationale for all of his recommendations and advice. But in order to ascertain whether his justifications and rationale make sense, you should conduct your own research so you are able to verify the veracity of his claims and assertions. If you are still nervous about the quality of his advice, then seek an alternative as there are plenty of property consultants who are hungry for your business.

And whether or not you are a newbie to the real estate industry, you should take upon yourself the responsibility of getting to know the property industry in-depth as you wouldn’t want to risk your wealth or life savings by carelessly venturing into something strange and unfamiliar.

Question: Given that the market is still going through a down cycle, would now be a good time to invest in a REIT? 

Yes, there can definitely be some benefits in investing in a well-managed REIT during cyclical downturns such as the one being experienced at the moment.

As you would be aware REIT is an acronym for “Real Estate Investment Trust” which, as a trust company, accumulates a pool of money through an initial public offering (IPO) and buys, develops, manages and sells real estate assets. REITS allow both small and large investors the ability to invest in real estate without investing large amounts of capital or devoting a lot of time in directly managing a property portfolio.

Investors have the opportunity to buy a unit in a REIT which is actually a portion of a managed pool of real estate. This pool of real estate then generates income through the renting, leasing, selling and financing of property, and distributes it directly to the REIT investors on a regular basis.

A REIT can provide portfolio diversification because of the large amounts of pooled funds available to the REIT management team enables the accumulation and operation of different types of property assets in different locales. This provides the REIT management greater flexibility to minimize the effects of any cyclical downturn by enabling them to focus on opportunities that always exist and emerge from any correctional period to provide superior returns.

Question: It has been my plan to work as a real estate broker in Dubai, but I don’t know which company to join. Any ideas?

Have you ever worked in the industry before? To gain the greatest advantage, I suggest you join a company that will enable you to fast track your learning because, believe me, you have a lot to learn.

Find a full service company so that you gain a greater understanding of what the real estate business is all about, especially here in Dubai, because it sure is not just about buying and selling property.

The company you choose should value you as an individual and remunerate you appropriately. But they should also be prepared to invest in you by providing the types of learning experiences that come with formal training (mandatory to become a licensed agent in Dubai), in-house training as well such as being assigned a mentor, being placed on an internal rotation scheme to enable a broader knowledge of the business to be developed, or being given special projects that will facilitate your learning by encouraging you to seek answers and solutions yourself. Those companies that invest in high-potential people are typically the ones that succeed.

Surround yourself with people who are passionate about the industry because passion is contagious and it is what sets champions apart. Best of luck.

Question: In Dubai, what types of training are mandatory for new real estate agents?

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) and the Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI) have set a mandatory certification program for new and experienced agents who wish to work in a real estate brokerage in Dubai. The Dubai Real Estate Institute also organizes license renewal courses and exams along with a very rich variety of career development programs designed to help elevate the standards of professionalism and effectiveness of brokers in Dubai.

Question of the Week:

What sort of documents are required after accepting an offer to buy my property?

The first (and most important) step is to prepare and sign an MOU which contains all the details and timing particulars of the offer. The buyer has to sign the MOU after reviewing its provisions. As with all legal documents, we recommend you have a proficient broker or legal representative draft the MOU for you.

You will also need to sign a “Form F” which is, in essence, a contract between buyer and seller. As part of this step you should ensure that the buyer and / or all the relevant representatives such as a POA holder with original documents) have their respective identification and/or authorizations in order that payments such as the down payment and/or balance amounts, payable by either by manager’s cheque or payment from bank due at transfer, have been satisfactorily arranged.

Step 2 will require the receipt of a “No Objection Certificate” from the developer. This is usually straightforward and a simple procedure.

Step 3 is to pay and final utility bills so that the account is cleared and ready to be taken over by the new owner. If there’s a tenant, you will need to sort out any outstanding rent / payment details.

Step 4 will require you to go to the Dubai Land Department offices or a trustee registration office together with the buyer and all relevant parties, and conduct the final transfer. Transfer of ownership will take place at the DLD with all monies owed by the buyer to you to be presented as part of the transfer procedure.

Although the above procedure appears simple enough, I recommend you engage a professional to handle the transaction process for you. You will be surprised how little issues, many not foreseeable to the inexperienced, can delay the satisfactory settlement of your property sale.

 

 

The impact of Brexit on UAE real estate

Published by Expert Eye
By Mohanad Alwadiya

June 23, 2016 will forever be remembered in history as the day the British, all 52 percent of the 71.8 percent referendum turnout versus the 48 percent who elected to stay, voted to leave the European Union (EU).

However, with the United Kingdom being one of the world’s largest economies, the so-called “Brexit” which is yet to be finalized in the next two years depending on when UK leadership will actually “trigger” Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is expected to send ripples around the global business community, not to mention the political ramifications of said move.

The effects of Brexit are as diverse as they are far-reaching, with experts considering how the decision made by the majority of Brits will affect everything from the European geopolitical and socio-economic landscape, the strength and resilience of the European Union in the face of further discontent within its member states, the social and economic ramifications to a newly  “independent” United Kingdom and the inevitable question as to whether the United Kingdom can remain united given the Scottish and  Northern Island  wishes to continue as part of the EU.

In addition, the whole strategic alliance framework of the West has been weakened somewhat as a robust and strongly united European Union was always considered to be a cornerstone to an effective defence to an aggressive Russia and China on both economic and security fronts.

Understandably, the whole world is worried because all the financial and trade mechanisms, agreements, communication channels, policies, protocols and security arrangements that have taken over four decades to build will soon be set to zero for renegotiation.
No wonder the world is nervous and understandably uncertain as to what the future might hold.

And it’s that uncertainty which will have an effect on the UAE property scene. As we all know, investors and potential homeowners alike do not handle uncertainty, especially of this scale, well.

And it’s uncertainty that now lies around the effect of the Brexit on world growth and the possibility of European and UK recessions in the coming year that will make most investors move to less risky assets and safe haven currencies such as the Yen and the US dollar.

Of course, uncertainty regarding world growth has also negatively affected oil prices so many investors will be more reticent to invest in those economies that rely on its revenue. While we all know that Dubai is much less reliant on oil than its neighbouring emirates and countries, it will still be affected by investor nervousness by way of association which is unfortunate yet a reality. Just look at the Dubai Financial Market. It lost 3.3 percent, the biggest decline since January, as Emaar Properties PJSC fell 4.7 percent, mirroring the Brexit effect on many other markets around the world. Hardly rational, in my view.

Investors will be looking closely at the effect on UAE’s tourism. In the first quarter of 2016, Western Europe was the second largest source of tourists to Dubai by region, accounting for 23 per cent, led by the UK’s eight per cent and Germany’s three per cent. With the Euro weakened to $1.10, and with most analysts bearish on its immediate future, it is hard to imagine that level of contribution will continue until the post-Brexit uncertainty dissipates. Now such a strong pillar in the UAE’s burgeoning economy, tourism rates can be affected as nearly every global currency has depreciated versus the AED, making travel to the UAE more expensive for the majority of global travellers while journeying to the UK and Europe for most people has just got a lot cheaper. Hopefully, many will still use the country as a travel hub from and take advantage of what this exciting country has to offer during stopovers.

At the time of writing, the British pound had fallen more than 10% to below $1.34 and still falling as uncertainty continues to cloud everybody’s view as to the future of the UK economy. This is significant as British investors alone injected £1.9 billion into Dubai’s property sector in 2015 purchasing around AED 10 billion worth of UAE property assets, putting them at No.2 with an overall 7 percent of total investments made in the sector in 2015.

Needless to say, with such a currency devaluation and an uncertain outlook, Dubai property has suddenly become a lot more expensive for those wishing to purchase with British pounds, while the London property market has just become a lot more affordable. While a feeding frenzy hasn’t developed as yet, a prolonged weakness in the pound could divert significant levels of investment capital away from a market such as Dubai, especially as British expats, living in the emirate and earning UAE dirhams, take advantage of exchange rate gains to invest back home.

But even in the face of such uncertainty, there is no need to act with undue haste or panic. With or without Brexit, the world of real estate investment has always been riddled with both risks and opportunities. One thing is certain, though, mature and astute investors would know when to grab onto property or let go, making their own calculations and analyses, and seeking further expert advice as events continue to unfold.

Ask the agent

Question: I have been in the UAE for a long time, and accumulated a portfolio of 17 apartments and a couple of villas located all over Dubai. Everyone knows that the market is on a slowdown so is there still a way to make any profit during this period?

There are too many investors who are under the illusion that investing in property is almost a “set and forget” proposition, but nothing could be further from the truth. The property industry is incredibly dynamic and requires constant attention as factors influencing its performance as an investment are as broad as they are complex.

Investing in property is no different to investing in any other asset. Its purpose is to create wealth but, in order to do that, it needs to be nurtured, maintained and managed just like any other investment. Ask yourself a question: Would you create a share portfolio without monitoring and managing its health and performance? Of course not, and having a property portfolio is no different.

With a portfolio this large, you need professional help to manage your property investment, particularly during times when yield is harder to generate.  It requires careful thinking about what the true earnings potential of the portfolio really is, and what is the most efficient and effective way to go about realizing that potential. You need a good property manager who will ensure that you maximize returns from your property portfolio and enable your long term portfolio strategy to be realized.

Essentially your property manager should be capable of managing your business which just so happens to be a property portfolio. Remember, it’s your investment, and you need to ensure it’s in good hands providing you with the returns you expect with as little hassle as possible.

Choose wisely as once you appoint a property manager, your ultimate return on investment is largely in his hands.

QUESTION: I have a well-maintained 1-bedroom apartment in Queue Point, Liwan. When I purchased it, the selling rate was at AED 550 per sq.ft. Should I continue to rent it out or sell it now?

Properties located in non-prime areas such as Dubailand have been doing very well even in the current market scenario. Even in the recent past, we have witnessed the more affordable properties in the market, including those in Dubailand, doing quite well in terms of significant value growth and ongoing sales activity as there remains a supply gap in the truly “affordable” property segment.

As mid to upmarket property in prime locations have become unaffordable for some homebuyers and investors, people have turned to more reasonably-priced projects like Remraam, Skycourts, Queue Point, etc., which promise capital appreciation even in the current market climate. These developments are still young, and more growth and infrastructure development is still in the offing.

There is no doubt that you would still make some profit if you sold today; however, we expect values to still improve, especially as the infrastructure and landscaping around the development gets completed. I suggest you retain the apartment for at least the next 5 years as you will continue to benefit from superior capital growth and enjoy at least 8 percent net annual rental returns in the meantime.

Question: Am I right in thinking that rental rates are not as affected by the market slowdown as sale prices? I was expecting a big reduction in my rent but our landlord told us it will remain the same.

Yes, you are partly right. The current industry climate has affected sale prices more although rents have also fallen in certain areas which only means the market slowdown has varying effects on different areas and property types. Regarding your rent, what will determine whether the landlord can raise your rent or not is how your rental levels compare with the new and updated index.

You should familiarize yourself with Law 43 which was issued on 22/12/2013 and replaced Decree # 2 of 2011. It introduced certain restrictions with regard to the calculation and implementation of legally allowable rental increases.

Having said that, it does not set out to control the rental value of new contracts and where a property is to be let for the first time or to a new tenant, it is up to the owner and prospective tenant to agree as to how much rent should be charged for the property.

However, for your peace of mind, you can compare your rental rate to the current market rate by using the RERA rental increase calculator online by visiting: http://www.dubailand.gov.ae/English/Pages/Rental-Increase-calculator.aspx

While it has its limitations, it is a useful tool that is also being used by landlords as a reference point for determining rental rates.

Question: I have just received an offer from a bank representative to refinance my property. Is this an opportunity I should avail of or not?

Very easily, I can say the answer is YES, but only if it makes financial sense! In short, you need to make some quick but careful calculations.

There are some very attractive mortgage products in the marketplace with a few mortgage providers offering rates as low as 3.99% or even 3.49% which signals that competition among UAE banks for higher market share of the mortgage market is getting pretty intense.

There are a number of things you need to consider such as, is there an early payment penalty for your current mortgage? It may well be that you will need to pay a hefty fee to exit the existing contract.

While 3.99% is an attractive rate, how long are you guaranteed this attractive rate? Interest rates will eventually rise and this eventuality needs to be understood by mortgagors as the attractive 3.99% interest rate enjoyed today will, in all probability, be replaced with a significantly higher rate in 2 years’ time, requiring increased mortgage payments to cover the interest rate hike. You need to factor this into your financial planning.

Will you need to pay any establishment fees for your new mortgage contract? With the mortgage market becoming so competitive, you should be able to have any fees waived.

Finally, make sure you can pay out your new mortgage contract at a future point in time without any penalty. This is an unnecessary expense that you should not be burdened with.

Additional:

Question: I am coming from overseas and looking to rent a home. I heard about this thing called “district cooling.” What, exactly, does it mean?

District cooling for the provision of chilled water has emerged globally as a way to provide cooling to buildings in a more environmentally sensitive way. It is considered to provide great benefits in the long run and, in addition, helps in saving on the costs of electricity which will be reflected in lower DEWA bills of tenants.

You will find that most of the units which are serviced by chilled water district cooling are offered at slightly lower rental rates. However, you should enquire as to how your cooling charges will be calculated and enquire as to all the charges which are included in the cost. You may even ask existing tenants how much they are paying currently before you commit to a tenancy contract.

With regard to consumption charges, I am assuming you will have a BTU meter installed in your future apartment? If so, you will be billed directly by the cooling services provider based upon what you actually consume in terms of cooling. The more you use, the more you pay.

Having said that, the DEWA savings will be offset somewhat as you may incur an additional utility charge as some owners of units that are equipped with chilled water district cooling will be passed on the slightly higher utility charges that they incur which involves the remuneration of the capital costs of providing the infrastructure that delivers the chilled water to the unit. This charge will, in all likelihood, be calculated as a pro-rata of the actual consumption charges.

Nevertheless, in most cases, developers have managed to offer better value for money while helping protect the environment.

 By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI)
Published in Freehold – Gulf News
Dated: 30 April, 2016

ask the agent

Ask the agent

By Mohanad Alwadiya
CEO, Harbor Real Estate
Advisor & Instructor, Dubai Real Estate Institute (DREI)
Published in Freehold – Gulf News
Dated: 9 April, 2016

Question: We’re a successful startup company and currently looking for office space with the best value? Should we rent or buy?

Congratulations on your successful venture! AT this stage, however, you would still be looking at keeping costs to a minimum until such time you become fully established in the market.

As you may very well know, the old cliché of “location, location, location” is critical. It’s all about proximity and the convenience and prestige that a well-chosen location can bring to your potential customers, staff and business associates. Currently, you will find great value, very affordable and well-constructed office space in Business Bay, which will cost you anywhere between AED 70 and AED 120 per square foot (higher for fully fitted space), but it will be pointless if the location is a hindrance to conducting your business. You need to choose your preferred location first, and work from there.

Think about purchasing your premises. It’s in your best interest to do a complete analysis to see if this option will work for you. We at Harbor have always advocated that, cash flow permitting, businesses acquire their own premises. If you are a business committed to operating long term in Dubai, it makes sense to own your office space, particularly if it is a well-negotiated purchase. There is no tax advantage in leasing in Dubai and, as long as your office space is appreciating, your balance sheet will look a whole lot better and grow stronger over time.

If you decide to lease your premises, try to get the best deal possible and lock it in for at least 3 to 5 years. Lease rates in Dubai will be on the increase, going forward, so make sure you take advantage of current rates.

Question: I came to the UAE with an objective to join real estate as I have several years of experience overseas under my sleeve. Can you advise me on how I can land myself a realtor’s job in a reputable company?

It is good to know that you plan on joining the local real estate sector with some experience. Nevertheless, each real estate environment is unique so I suggest you join a company that will enable you to fast track your learning.

Look for a full service company so you gain a greater understanding of what the UAE real estate business is all about, beyond the buying and selling of property.

The company you choose should value you as an individual and remunerate you appropriately. But they should also be prepared to invest in you by providing the types of learning experiences that come with formal training (mandatory to become a licensed agent in Dubai), and also in-house training. This may involve being assigned a mentor, be placed on an internal rotation scheme to enable a broader knowledge of the business to be developed or be given special projects that will facilitate your learning by encouraging you to seek answers and solutions yourself to enable you to complete the task at hand. Those companies that invest in hi-potential people, typically are those that succeed.

Finally, surround yourself with people who are passionate about the industry because passion is contagious, and it’s what sets the successful ones apart.

Question: How do I know for sure my property consultant is giving me the right advice?

In any relationship, whether it be personal or professional, trust is key.  So if you have a nagging feeling that your property consultant is not representing your interests, have a meeting with him and request a justification and rationale for his recommendations and advice. To ascertain whether his justifications and rationale make sense, you should do some research yourself so you can verify the veracity of his claims and assertions. If you remain doubtful, seek an alternative as there are plenty of property consultants out there hungry for your business.

Getting a new consultant is not always the solution and you may want to rethink your criteria in choosing one so you develop rapport and trust in the long run.

Look for experience and passion – people who really enjoy what they are doing. The best way to find such professionals is to ask around. Seek out friends or peers who have recently conducted a real estate transaction and ask. Seek out the positive stories as well as the negative ones.

Find a consultant or agency that exhibits a breadth and depth of industry knowledge and expertise. When conducting initial meetings, make sure you assess how much the agency or its brokers actually know.

Look for longevity. Those that survived the recent recession must be good!

Look for a strong network of corporate, government and industry contacts. The consultant or agency that has good relationships with key industry stakeholders such as the major developers or authorities such as the Dubai Land Department, RERA, DEWA or Economic Department will be able to operate more efficiently and effectively.

And finally, look for an agency that has received some form of industry or peer recognition as they lend credence to the name and reputation of the realtor in question.

Question: We purchased a villa in Dubai back in 2009. However, instead of continuing to rent it out, my husband and I have decided that we want to go ahead and sell our property soon. How do we find a good seller’s agent?

There is a large number of licensed real estate brokers in Dubai, and the whole of UAE of course. But finding the right agent to sell your property is something you need to pay close attention to because getting the best person to represent you and your property out there is crucial to how quickly you can make a sale without compromising on your agreed-upon expectations.

Factors such as years of experience in the UAE property market, track record of success, an in-depth understanding of market trends, area expertise (especially in the neighborhood where your unit is located), client testimonials, level of commitment, passion, dedication, professionalism and honesty are important, not to mention the fact that he/she should also be a duly licensed RERA-certified real estate broker. Before committing to any realtor, make a list of all the questions you want answered first and see how they respond as doing so will help you gauge whether or not giving him/her your business is the best thing for you and your husband, and your property.

Question of the Week: I have been looking at Dubai (or the UAE) as a possible part-time destination during my retirement. Hence, I would like to purchase a property here, rent it out initially and later use the property myself during my retirement. Do you have any advice?

Including property acquisition as a part of your retirement plan is a good move, but you must choose wisely. The key to choosing your property is determining the right balance between the amount to be invested, the returns you require in the interim period before you retire, and what type of property you want to enjoy during your retirement. The good news here is your tastes are likely to be shared by your tenants in the interim so renting it out should not be a problem.

Quality properties are available starting from AED 700 per square foot; however if you want to purchase in the prime areas of Dubai, either in Downtown Dubai, or somewhere close to the beach, or with a golf course view, you can easily double or triple that amount.

You can expect a minimum net rental return of around 5 percent to 7 percent which, given the cheap financing available at the moment, makes for a solid investment in preparation for outright ownership and retirement. Be careful with fluctuations in exchange rates.

Factors such as location, the developer’s record and reputation, quality, service fees, building management and the existence of a functioning owner’s association will require a reputable local real estate professional to help you minimize any risks with your investment, whether during the procurement stage or managing your investment until you are ready to assume occupancy once you will have retired.

Expert Eye

Purchasing a home? Plan carefully

Eliminate any surprises by conducting careful planning and due diligence

There is no doubt that the Dubai real estate market presents some fantastic opportunities for both investors and first-time home buyers. For the latter, there is no better time to take advantage of the value that is currently on offer and start to build a solid financial future.

However, just because the market is currently strongly in favor of buyers doesn’t mean that careful planning and due diligence should not be adhered to. There is never a market scenario which demands hasty decisions; the markets will always demand and reward timely decisions. This is an important distinction to make as taking shortcuts in preparation and planning, particularly in financial planning, is a common shortcoming of investors and home buyers who are keen to take advantage of the varied opportunities.

One area that is often overlooked is the many additional costs “of buying, owning and occupying a home. Many first-time home buyers tend to only focus on the purchase price and mortgage costs and forget that there are other costs to be considered.

Assuming you have con ducted a thorough search and have identified the property that you would like to buy, your negotiated buying price will be subject to a 4% property registration fee at the Dubai Land Department (DLD). You may be taking advantage of some recent payment plans whereby the transfer of ownership and registration fees are deferred until all payments are satisfied; regardless, it is a cost that you need to cover eventually. There will also be a charge of .25 % of the value of any mortgage payable at the-time of registration.

Speaking of mortgages, most lenders require property insurance and you would, in all likelihood, wish to insure your belongings. This is in addition to the loan protection insurance that you need to take out as a prerequisite to finalizing your mortgage so that your spouse and children are protected from having to pay down the mortgage if you should pass away prematurely. You may also consider other forms of insurance covering disability and terminal illness.

Every building or community requires maintenance and operational management. So, you need to understand what fees you will pay to those who will provide the services that make your new home a secure place to live. Fees can vary depending on your location or the development you are part of, so ascertain what you will pay before you sign the purchase agreement.

 Then there are the costs of actually occupying your home. It starts with paying deposits to set up utility accounts followed by monthly utility bills for electricity, gas and water, as well as Pay TV, telephone and Internet services.

Then there are the moving costs. If you are a single or a young couple, you may be able to handle this yourself. For some families, moving may require renting a truck or hiring a moving company.

 Of course, you need to consider the additional new furniture or decorative items you need to buy so that your new home lives up to the vision that inspired you to buy it in the first place.

If you have purchased a new villa, you will want to do some landscaping. This may include the addition or modification of outside entertainment areas such as patios or BBQ areas, design or redesign of plants, trees, shrubs and pathways along with the establishment of a healthy and robust lawn. Play equipment for children may need to be purchased along with additional items such as security systems, fencing or exterior lighting.

Thus, planning a home purchase entails more than just figuring out what your mortgage payments may be. With careful planning, you can eliminate any surprises with your next purchase.

Ask the agent

Can you explain the term capitalization rate?

Capitalisation rate (cap rate) is the rate of return on a real estate property based on the income that the property is expected to generate. It is used to estimate the investor’s potential return on investment. It maybe calculated by dividing the investment’s net operating income (NOI) by the current market value, where NOI is the total revenue derived from renting or leasing the property minus all operating costs. Put simply, the cap rate = NOl current market value. Given that the capital values for Dubai properties have shown greater volatility than the income being derived, the NOI being generated from the property at today’s value needs to be looked into. This allows us to see whether the property’s performance is improving or declining by referring to the cap rate. If the cap rate is declining, this leads us to conclude that selling the property would generate greater income.

Where do you think the best investment opportunities are in the Dubai real estate market?

Definitely in the affordable segment of the market!

We are encouraging clients to invest in this important segment as there are some great opportunities and the demand for affordable housing is likely to continue increasing as Dubai heads towards the Expo 2020. There are many affordable developments that have been sprouting in Dubailand and other parts of the city, especially in the outskirts. They are strategically located, with easy access to major road networks like the Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road, thus residents enjoy fast transit times to most of Dubai’s popular areas. The demand for this type of affordable accommodation will continue to grow. invest in apartments and retain ownership for atleast five years to gain superior capital growth and enjoy healthy net annual rental return in the meantime.

Do you think the property prices will fall further in this current cycle? If so, would now be a good time to sell?

The fact that the property industry is notoriously cyclical is widely known yet viewed differently. Investors with a clear strategy and long-term plan simply accept, foresee and plan for cycles in the industry. They look for longer—term sustainable growth rather than take additional risk by trying to accumulate wealth by taking advantage of shorter-term spikes or dips. Investing in property has a very simple purpose: to create wealth over the long term. However, your portfolio needs to be nurtured, maintained and managed to ensure its wealth-creating potential is achieved as it rides the inevitable cycles that occur in the industry. Adopting a short-term vision and reacting unreasonably to inevitable industry slowdowns will lead to underperformance in the longer term. Consider engaging a good property manager who will ensure that you maximize returns.

I plan to purchase our first family home. What are the factors to consider when getting a mortgage?

There are a number of considerations that you need to factor into your plan of buying a home. One of these is getting a mortgage. Generally speaking, you are much better off financially in applying your hard-earned money towards building equity, but keep in mind that mortgage payments can be subject to fluctuations as interest rates rise. Not all mortgages are the same. Try and have the mortgage establishment fees waived. Depending on the institution, this may save you up to Dh3,000. Also request that you are not penalized for paying the mortgage down faster or in its entirety. By law, the mortgage provider cannot charge you more than 1% of the outstanding amount or a maximum of Dhl0,000, but try to have this stipulation dropped from your contract. Make sure your provider will allow you to utilize the equity you build in your home over time. Some lenders will allow you to use this as security for further borrowing.

Question of the week

I am buying an off-plan property. Can you explain the principles of escrow?

An escrow can be described as a legally recognized financial instrument held by a third party (typically a bank) on behalf of two other parties (typically a buyer and a seller) who have agreed to conduct a particular transaction in accordance with certain conditions. Funds are provided by the buyer and held by the party (bank) providing the escrow service until it receives the formal advice that certain previously agreed obligations of the seller have been fulfilled upon which time, the seller can receive funds to the amount specified in the agreement between the seller and buyer.

The use of escrow accounts by Dubai developers has now been mandated by law for the purpose of protecting the prepayments made by buyers. This limits developers from gaining access to funds until certain construction milestones are completed, helping ensure developers are not misappropriating funds provided in advance for purposes other than which they are intended.

Anybody can open an escrow account but not anybody can open one for the purposes of property development in Dubai. The developer must first be registered as a bona fide developer with RERA which involves providing documents ranging from those which establish the bona fide nature of the developer including details of its officers and solvency, title deeds proving ownership of the land to be developed, NOC from relevant parties to performance guarantees.

Beyond promises, Dubai brings trangible benefits

The emirate has a lot going for it that make it attractive to investors from India and other countries

I was reading with interest an online article recently that underlined the top reasons why Dubai’s property was so popular with Indian nationals. The reasons offered are not really surprising and essentially summarize why investing in property in the emirate has had significant appeal for not just Indian investors, but those from every corner of the world.

Dubai is easy

Compared to many countries in the world, investing in Dubai’s real estate sector is relatively easy. Enlist a reputable brokerage, select your desired property, negotiate a price, write the necessary cheques and the property will be yours. Bureaucracy, which makes investing in other countries a pain, is virtually nonexistent and, as long as you follow procedural requirements, your property transaction will be processed efficiently and without undue delay.

Dubai provides superior value for money

When compared to the major Indian cities or big cities around the world, Dubai offers increasingly better value. A modern infrastructure that is continually being developed, a renewed focus on affordable housing, world-leading rental yields and finance rates that have been at historic lows for some time now, the value that is inherent in Dubai property is hard to beat in India or any other country in the world.

Dubai provides superior, tax-free rental yields

put simply, there are not many real estate markets in the world where an investor can enjoy an average 7 percent yield Without paying any local taxes. So, net of service charges, maintenance costs and property management fees, the rent that you charge your tenants goes straight into your wallet without the taxman taking his share. And with the cost of finance remaining at near historic lows, the interest on any borrowings you may have is easily covered by the rent that is being yielded by your property, leaving more free cash flow to pay down your principal.

Dubai doesn’t impose a capital gains tax

In addition, capital gains are not taxed upon disposal of the asset, which makes investing in Dubai property a very lucrative addition to any investment portfolio – when taken with a long-term view, a Dubai property investment will provide handsome returns. So from a total return point of view, there are few real estate investments that are better than Dubai.

World-best infrastructure and security

Many times, investments that provide such lucrative returns are normally associated vvith excessive risks or poor infrastructure. This is not the case in Dubai. Dubai’s focus has been on developing a World-leading infrastructure for the benefit of commerce, trade, tourism and habitation. The remarkable improvement that has been made in opening Dubai up for business, implementing the physical, digital and logistical infrastructures, legal framework and economic policies in the post—recession period

has been impressive. There is no doubt that Dubai’s future is looking very bright and investors globally continue to monitor its progress very closely.

Dubai’s brand value has never been stronger

There is no doubt that Dubai has captured the imagination of the world and there is no better barometer of this than its burgeoning tourism industry. Investments in revenue-generating sectors such as entertainment and hospitality have ensured that Dubai is increasingly being included on travellers’ bucket lists all over the world.

Dubai excels at economic entrepreneurialism

Dubai is excelling in an area I call economic entrepreneurialism. Already known for conducting world renowned exhibitions, there is no greater example than the upcoming World Expo, which Dubai will be hosting in 2020. Dubai is committed to making it the best ever.

Dubai is close to India and many countries

There is no doubt that Dubai is well placed geographically. With one-third of the world’s population within a four-hour flight and two-thirds within an eight-hour flight, existing emerging, economies such as Russia, India and China, and soon-to-be emerging economies on the African and South Asian continents will soon all share Dubai as a central hub. No wonder investors are so excited about the emirates prospects.

A multicultural and cosmopolitan society

Long a haven for expats that fulfilled employment contracts of limited duration, more and more people have decided to settle down and call Dubai home. This change in outlook has had a dramatic effect on the stability of the property market and the development of a society that, while incredibly diverse, is also less transient and more committed to developing the emirate as a long-term lifestyle solution. As a result, while there has always been a vibrant and strong Indian community; communities representing other nationalities are developing rapidly making it easier for new expats to make a decision to make Dubai their new home. History has proven that strong nations were built upon such diversity.

Capitalization rate card for investment

Many investors use gross yield and net yield to assess differing property investments in order to determine which course of action represents the best decision from a financial point of view.

But there is another calculation which is often ignored which is instrumental in determining how to deliver the best returns on an investor’s equity. This calculation is called the Capitalization Rate and is an important indicator for investors to consider. In the post Global Financial Crisis (GFC) period, yields from any type of investments became increasingly harder to find and without doubt, the post global recession environment saw investors having to take greater levels of risk to generate acceptable and goal satisfying yields. Dubai’s rental yields have always been strong, particularly when compared to countries where rental income is taxed at high marginal tax rates. With a market that boasts an Average Gross Yield of around 7 percent, it has for some time stood as a beacon for those who appreciate the significant structural and regulatory development that the market has undertaken which, in reality, decreases the risk perception associated with investing in the market. A close look at Gross Yields can reveal a number of insights. It can provide a retrospective view or learning opportunity by revealing how accurately market factors were comprehended, analyzed, forecast and modeled when planning a particular development. Gross Yields can also highlight inefficiencies because inefficiencies, unless corrected, must be eventually supported by either Gross Yield or margin reduction. Investors are concerned with what can be put into his wallet and expectations of Net Yield will always pressure Gross Yield and the cost of resources required to generate that Gross Yield. In times of tight supply, inefficiencies in construction, administration, maintenance and operating methodologies are hidden because elevated Gross Yields driven by excessive market demand are more likely to drive acceptable Net Yields for investors. However, the real test as to effective Yield management is when supply exceeds demand. But really, what is the true meaning of Gross Yield? Gross Yield is the income on an investment prior to expenses being deducted expressed as a percentage. Simple. But Gross Yield only measures the income as a percentage of the original purchase price and does not reflect the effects of significant underlying fluctuations in underlying asset values such as those that have been witnessed in Dubai during the last 5 years. Now, what is the Capitalization Rate (Cap Rate) of an existing property? Cap Rate is the rate of return on a real estate investment based on the income that the property is expected to generate. The capitalization rate is used to estimate the investor’s potential return on investment. The Cap Rate may be calculated by dividing the investment’s net operating income (NOI) by the current market value of the property, where NOI is the total revenue derived from leasing the property less operating costs. Simply put, the Cap Rate = Net Operating Income/ Current Market Value. Given that the capital values for property in Dubai has, in many cases, shown significantly greater volatility than the income being derived from the property, we need to look at the Net Operating Income being generated from the property at today’s value. This allows us to see whether the property’s wealth generating performance is improving or declining by referring to the Cap Rate. If the Cap Rate is declining, it may lead us to conclude that to sell the property and reinvest elsewhere would generate greater income and/or overall wealth even if the Gross or Net Yield still looks impressive.

Cap Rate is used as part of the objective when establishing a client’s property portfolio. We will determine the lowest cap rate that the client should accept in order to make the investment worth-while. Typically, we will suggest a Cap Rate of between 5 and 10 per cent depending on expectations of asset value fluctuations going forward. As revenues are typically locked in line with rental contracts, the ability to accurately forecast the potential and likely shifts in property asset values will be essential to establishing realistic Cap Rates and forming longer term portfolio strategies. Another useful application of the Cap rate is to determine an estimation of the payback period of an investment. When you divide 100 by the estimated Cap Rate you arrive at an estimate, expressed in years, which will provide an indication of the payback period of the investment. For example, an investment with a cap rate of 7 per cent will have an estimated payback period of 20 years. Caution must be used when using this ratio, however, and it must be reviewed periodically as the underlying asset value and the revenues generated from the asset will always exhibit different rates of volatility.