Why Investors Are Still Buying Property in Dubai- By: Marc Da Silva
Some doomsayers are warning that the property boom in is now over, thanks to an oversupply of property in Dubai. While this may indeed be the case across some parts of the emirate, certainly as far as apartments are concerned, overall demand for property in Dubai, which initially stimulated international appetite for UAE real estate, reportedly continues to outstrip supply.
With prices of property in Dubai generally low and payment terms rather favourable, the government sparked a wave of mass investment in property in Dubai from investors from all around the world. This in turn led to increasing levels of new developments and regeneration. In fact, the plans for the emirate are truly remarkable and the state's pockets are seemingly bottomless.
Prices of property in Dubai have appreciated significantly over the past few years, as demand has far exceeded supply. This has typically attracted a surge of speculators - many of which have traded in off-plan property in Dubai - buying and selling title deeds, long before ground has even broken on a new development, otherwise referred to as 'flipping'. This is not uncommon in an emerging market, as it can prove to be a highly lucrative, high risk, way of making money.
Average prices of property in Dubaiís 'Marina Terrace', for example, constructed by Damac, have appreciated by well in excess of 200 per cent since the development was launched in 2002. Residential units in 'The Waves', also located in Dubai Marina, have appreciated by over 160 per cent per cent since its launch, also in 2002.
Cluttons Middle East reports that the average price of property in Dubai stood at between £90 to 100 per square foot in 2004. Today, that figure stands at close to £250 per square foot.
Although capital growth has now generally slowed, average prices of property in Dubai continue to grow at an impressive rate, currently appreciating at annual rate of around 15 per cent per year, according to Middle East business provider, AME Info.
However, with so many off-plan projects now nearing completion, there is a genuine fear that there may soon be an oversupply of property in Dubai and that the phenomenal level of growth recorded in the past cannot be sustained.
Not so, according to some market experts. "Investors who enter the market now will be able to snap up a property in Dubai for far less than if they wait until a later date, says an AME spokesperson. "Furthermore, buying property in Dubai early will allow owners to enjoy considerable capital appreciation.
"Sitting on an asset that is rising in value makes obvious sense. The boom in property in Dubai is far from over, as all the drivers of growth in the market are firmly in place"
Upson supports these views, adding that the residential market remains "very active", due to growing demand for property in Dubai from end-users. "If buyers are looking for growth then current demand appears to be exceeding supply and prices continue to rise," he says. "However, we urge caution and always recommend thorough research into comparable property prices and developer history. Delays in delivery should be expected."
Construction delays are one of the biggest risk factors of buying property in Dubai. Earlier this year Middle East developer Rakaa Properties estimated that 40 per cent, or $160 billion (£79.5 billion) worth of total construction projects in Dubai have so far been suspended, due to rising material costs, which in part is fueling soaring inflation levels. Construction delays are also holding up the supply of property in Dubai, which could very well culminate in further capital growth over the coming years.
In fact, 57,000 properties in Dubai were due for completion last year, and yet only 11,000 residential units were actually delivered, according to Peter Riddoch of Damac Properties.
Nevertheless, the volume of land being purchased in the emirate is increasing - up 170 per cent in 2007 to reach $48 billion (£24billion), illustrating the fact that there are plenty more developments in the pipeline. Much of this land is being purchased by Britons, who are now the leading foreign owners of land in Dubai, according to a report compiled by the Dubai Land Department.
Nakheel, which is currently constructing The World, among other projects, has announced that it plans to build the 'Universe'. The project, which will be situated off the coast of Dubai, in between Palm Deira and Palm Jumeirah, will take up to 20 years to construct.
Anyone wishing to invest in buy-to-let property in Dubai should expect to achieve an annual rental yield of eight to ten per cent, according to Riddoch. However, investors in rental property in Dubai should avoid prime developments, as they tend to offer relatively low rental returns.
The greatest returns from rental property in Dubai can be found in The Palm Jumeirah and Old Town Burj Dubai, according to UAE estate agency Asteco. However, the largest rental increases are being recorded in the cheaper areas in and around International City. Comparable data shows that the greatest annual rental increase of property in Dubai has been recorded in International City, where average two-bedroom apartments have appreciated by 36 per cent year-on-year.
The declining cost of finance to buy a property in Dubai could yet boost the market further. This is because the UAE Dirham (AED) is fixed to the US dollar, which means that the currencies do not fluctuate against each other and remain fixed at one value. Consequently, the UAE Central Bank has to follow US interest rates, which currently stands at 2.25 per cent. This effectively devalues the local currency, it also lowers the cost of borrowing money to buy property in Dubai, which can lead to higher property investment returns.
Moving forward it's almost impossible to forecast what will happen to the market for property in Dubai. The sheer volume of new homes coming onto the market suggests that it's not long until there is an oversupply of property in Dubai, if not already the case. However, the emirate has one of the fastest growing populations in the world.
It's reported that up to 857 people are moving to Dubai every day, totaling some 5,000 per week. In fact, Peter Riddoch of Damac Properties estimates that around 60,000 people will be looking to purchase property in Dubai this year. He also reports that Dubai's workforce, which currently stands at around two million will grow to around five million by 2015, undeterred by the likely introduction of VAT next year.
One thing is for sure - Dubai will keep growing.
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Marc Da-Silva for Homes Overseas - Property for sale in Dubai, information about buying property in Dubai, overseas property investment advice and international property news.
International property experts since 1965.