Issue No 291 - 18 Nov 2008
Dubai property 'slump won't last long'

The current slump in real estate industry in Dubai, due to speculation in the market and the liquidity squeeze that gripped the local banking sector, will not last very long, according to experts.

The real estate industry in Dubai is currently at a standstill, as fewer people are buying new properties.

In the short term, there will be a "dramatic slowdown" in real estate developments because property developers, including Emaar and Nakheel, will find it difficult to secure new financing.

However, projects those have already broken ground and have existing commitments with financial institutions will continue despite the global financial crisis because the UAE has already injected liquidity into the local banking system, experts were quoted as saying in the Gulf News.

Although lesser buying has relaxed property prices, the impending slowdown in construction will eventually reduce property supply, which in turn will drive prices back up, they said.

"Today, there is little demand for real estate. There is hardly any trading. Buyers are sitting on the sidelines. Investors or purchasers are very cautious and they are not moving forward because they think prices are going to drop," he added.

"Then, there's little capital from banks to finance the development of new real estate," said Ali Al Shihabi, founder and chief executive of Rasmala Investments during a networking event with Dubai Property Society.

"But if you're an investor, now is actually a very good time to buy. Existing projects are going to continue. Large developers will continue to build but at a much reduced level. You still have a solid pipeline of work over the next three years to keep you busy," he noted.

"This relaxation is going to lead to a second bomb in demand in a few years' time because that reduction in supply that's going to be coming will force prices to go up in the next few years," Al Shihabi added.

Ronald Hinchey, resident partner of property consultancy firm Clutters, attributed the slump in real estate activity to the lack of liquidity in banks and the reduction of loan-to-value ratios.

He said people were finding it difficult to borrow money for property because mortgage providers have lowered their loan-to-value ratios from 80 to 90 per cent down to 50 to 70 per cent.

"The other problem on the side of the lending institutions is that they have committed a lot of their funds forward on properties that are under construction and because of the recent outflow of money from the Middle East after the uncertainty over the dirham possibly demerging from the dollar, there is a liquidity issue," Hinchey said.

Al Shihabi noted that Dubai had actually been hit by its own financial crisis this year prior to the collapse of major financial institutions like the Lehman Brothers in the US.

In the first six months of the year, the UAE saw an influx of billions of dollars from global financial institutions after speculation was rife that the dirham would be revalued against the dollar.

Source: Trade Arabia News

PO Box: 7553, Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 4 331 3122 Fax +971 4 331 3126