Expats bask in Dubai's boom

Another article on Dubai, the “rising star” of the Middle East. A good article too, I see the hack in question had pints down in the Irish Village in Garhoud. The property markey in Dubai is booming, but I would always be sceptical about buying property in a kingdom with no real property rights, and limited to 90 year leases. Who knows what might happen down the line, it seems other people have similar concerns. Curiosuly there are now some 100,000 Brits living in the Emirates, and some 10,000 South Africans.

“There are no consistent laws to follow,” said Andrew Small, a South African who moved to Dubai a little more than four years ago, over a beer with a business colleague at a faux-Irish pub.

Although he sees himself staying for at least another 10 years, he can’t get himself to purchase property. “I’d rather buy somewhere I have political confidence,” he said.

The piece continues:

Jones Lang LaSalle, a global real estate company, recently named Dubai as one of the top three “rising urban stars” in the world, together with Las Vegas and Shanghai, in an assessment that took into account a variety of factors including population and construction growth.

These kinds of assessments have helped keep overseas interest high, said Saeed Chinoy, managing director of Dubai Shows Ltd., which hosts property fairs to introduce real estate investments to foreigners. “We’re selling the dream,” he said.

Recently, though, the target market of that dream has become increasingly local. Arab investments are withdrawing from the United States and moving to Europe and the Middle East, Chinoy said. American companies, which used to come to market American real estate, have all but disappeared.

Chinoy reported that trade show attendance is growing for now, but he is worried about the way the Saudi Arabian economy collapsed once Westerners no longer felt welcome.

“What if Europeans and Americans were advised not to come to Dubai?” Chinoy asked. “It would be brutal.”

1 thought on “Expats bask in Dubai's boom”

  1. Thinking of buying a villa in Dubai? Think Again
    By Samir Khosla, eDynamic LLC (samir.khosla@edynamic.net)

    In 2002 the Emirate of Dubai took the unprecedented step of giving foreigners the opportunity to purchase selected properties. While the property available for purchase was termed as “freehold�, it essentially equated to a 99 year leasehold arrangement. After a sluggish start, in the last 3 years property transactions in Dubai have increased exponentially. The Dubai property market is unique, especially since it is nascent and is not subject to the same market forces as western markets.

    Financing your property in Dubai:

    1. UAE Institutions are offering mortgages to GCC residents as well as non-residents
    2. Most institutions require between 1-3 years local salary history for residents or a 5 year’s history for overseas residents
    3. For Dubai residents the minimum down payment is 10% whereas for overseas residents the minimum down payment is 30%
    4. Typically mortgages offered are 60 times of monthly salary to a maximum of between AED 3.0 – 5.0 Million
    5. The typical debt service ratio expected is between 35- 55% of salary
    6. Terms are between 5 and 15 years for non GCC citizens
    7. Interest rates are determined based on 4.99%+DIBOR (Dubai Inter-bank) and the lowest currently (August 2005) stands at around 6.49%

    As an example, to buy a villa in Arabian Ranches where the average price for a 5 bedroom is US$600,000 – 700,000.00 the 30% down payment will be US$210,000.00 and the monthly payment will be US$ 5140.00 for 15 years

    Now consider that based on classifieds in Gulf news, to rent the same villa in Arabian Ranches for 1 year the price would be about $3700.00 – $4000.00 per month.

    Based on this limited information, we need to think about what will happen up ahead. Villa prices have increased by 22% (http://www.ameinfo.com/64650.html) vs. those of apartments which declined by 7%, rents have shot up by up to 40% (http://www.ameinfo.com/63768.html) The one caveat to using ameinfo’s information is that they rarely talk negatively about the property market. We need to use market information to assess whether a mortgage payment of $5000 + opportunity loss of $210,000, coupled with the prospect of property appreciation is a reason enough to buy in Dubai VS doing something else with this money like renting in Dubai and investing the difference at another location.

    My assessment is that villa prices are commanding a premium due to the following reasons:

    1. Limited number of villa projects have come online when compared to apartments
    2. Limited number of villa projects have moved into possession phase when compared to apartments
    3. Villa lifestyle suits the Arab socio-cultural setting of a more private lifestyle – therefore more Arabs would look at this as to-live investment rather than a to-let investment

    I also feel that villa prices may fall by Q4 05 / Q2 06 due to the following reasons:

    1. Very few villas have been brought to market when compared to apartments, in my view villas are appreciating since there are fewer to go around
    2. At least 5-6 large, villa projects are currently underway that will be hitting the market by end 2006; not to forget the Palm – on which the frond villas would start opening up by late 2006 – 2007.
    3. Arabs will not buy villas with the same fervour with which they bought apartments since a lot of apartments were bought with a to-let intention. Buying apartments to let was a feasible situation since the threshold price for a 1 bedroom is US$80,000 whereas that for a 3 BR villa is US$300,000.00 – also the to-let prices as well as purchase prices for villas would be bearable only to a minute percentage of the Million odd expatriates and other people in Dubai.

    Based on this information, I think that it’s probably the time to buy an apartment and not a villa. Further, for those people interested in villas, I think that this is a good time to rent a villa.

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