As new real estate projects continue to come online in Dubai, developers with stock to shed are pulling out all the stops to lure buyers in — from instalment plans for as little as Dh120 a day to rent-to-own schemes for as long as 20 years. With a variety of financing options available, some analysts say it is the perfect time to get on the property ladder.
“All in all, right now is a great time to buy. There are a lot of really good deals and you have a lot of options,” says Lynnette Abad, director of research and data at real estate listings portal Property Finder. “Sellers have realised the market that we are in, so they are lowering prices and negotiating more than before.”
Villas and apartment prices in the first half of 2019 were around 12 per cent cheaper than they were in 2017 and approximately 4 per cent cheaper than in the second half of last year, according to the latest Property Finder Trends report. Although apartment transactions were down by 5 per cent, villa sales increased by 35 per cent, the report said.
Dubai recorded Dh106 billion worth of real estate transactions in the first five months of this year, up 12 per cent compared to the same period last year, according to the Dubai Land Department’s annual report released last month.
Residential property prices in Dubai have been declining since 2014 due to a three-year slump in oil prices and oversupply. Oil prices have since rebounded, and experts forecast a recovery in the property market as new long-term visas are introduced and preparations are underway for Expo 2020. Last month, Dubai formed the Higher Committee for Real Estate Planning led by Deputy Ruler Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed to achieve a balance between supply and demand.
But it will take time to achieve that balance. A total of 20,978 residential units were completed in the first half of 2019, according to Property Finder estimates. An additional 38,426 residential units within 152 projects are scheduled to be delivered by the end of the year. Emaar alone has more than 29,000 homes currently under development in Dubai, according to the company’s 2018 annual report.
Increased supply has made new, affordable off-plan offerings in areas such as Dubai South, Dubailand and Town Square popular among buyers, according to Property Finder.
“In the areas where there’s a lot of ready, empty stock, you have many good incentives from the developers,” says Ms Abad. “They’re waiving DLD fees, commissions, and they’re also giving free service fees for five or 10 years.”
Other trends that emerged in the last year include post-handover payment plans and rent-to-own schemes. Emaar, for example, started heavily advertising post-handover payment plans of five, seven and 10 years in the last quarter of 2018, says Ms Abad. Several projects from National Properties, a subsidiary of National Bonds Corporation, started offering rent-to-own.
“They were being offered on 10, 15, 20-year plans,” says Ms Abad. “And these properties are ready. So basically you would enter into the property with a very low payment of 5 per cent and then your monthly rent would be contributed to the purchase of the property.”
Ms Abad says to be mindful, however, that with post-handover payment plans and rent-to-own, the price of the property is higher than a comparable property currently on the market. The benefit is for people who do not have the 25 per cent or more to put as a down payment.
Another challenge in the current market is that valuations are conservative due to price declines. “If you buy a property with a post-handover payment plan at Dh2.5m today in our market whereas in reality it’s worth Dh2.2m, the problem that you’re going to have is if you decide to get a mortgage on a property, the valuation is not going to come through,” Ms Abad says. “If it’s something that you’re thinking of staying in for five to 10 years, fine. But if it’s something that’s going to be short-term, no.”
It is important to also “do your homework, make sure you know very well the property and the community you’re buying in, make sure you know very well the developer that you’re choosing and the developer track record,” Ms Abad says. Here are some of the property deals on offer in Dubai:
Mag Lifestyle Development
A new campaign from Mag Lifestyle Development allows buyers to take up to 24 years to buy a property for as little as Dh120 per day. For example, if a client chooses a nine-year-plan of Dh5,500 per month, that works out to around Dh180 per day.
The payment plans apply to ready and off-plan properties in Mag Eye in Meydan, Al Furjan in the Jebel Ali district and MBL Residence in Jumeirah Lakes Towers. Registration fees, service fees and other administrative fees are also covered in the cost, so that it is a complete package offered to customers.
“We are covering all expenses and selling a closed package to investors,” says Talal Al Gaddah, chief executive of Mag Lifestyle Development. “The idea behind all these concepts is to make people’s life easy related to purchasing a property. They don’t need to go to the DLD, they don’t need to go to banks to take approval, they don’t need to do an evaluation report. They will deal with one company.”
Mr Al Gaddah says the initiative helps the company increase direct sales and connect directly with end users. “We’re selling today around 55 per cent direct, 45 per cent through brokers. In bad days, we sell 70 per cent through brokers and 30 per cent direct. But with this plan we want to increase the direct to 70, 80 per cent,” he says.
On the National Properties website, a pop-up advertising the Casa Flores development in Green Community Motor City proclaims: “10-20 years payment plan. 5-15 per cent down payment only. No banks. No hidden charges. No processing fees. No rate fluctuations.”
Casa Familia, across the street, offers a similar rent-to-own scheme for its family townhouses.
“The nice thing about these properties in particular is that if, for example, five years down the road, you decide you’re going to move or you just don’t want the property anymore, you can assign the property to a new owner and the title deed would be transferred to that new owner,” says Ms Abad.
Note, however, that a 20-year-payment plan for a three-bedroom Casa Flores townhouse would mean a Dh15,643 monthly payment for a total of approximately Dh4.17 million. In comparison, a 10-year payment plan with a Dh24,878 monthly payment would result in a total of around Dh3.14m.
Azizi Developments partnered with Dubai Islamic Bank to offer home buyers payment plan options of up to 48 months at mortgage-like rates. Those opting for payment plans of up to six months will pay no charges.
The developer also has four-year post-handover payment plans on two projects: Azizi Aura Residence in downtown Jebel Ali and Sky Villas in Al Furjan.
“A lot of the market is offering post-handover plans on products that have a far delivery date. The ones that we’ve selected are being delivered at the end of this year and beginning of next year,” says Gibran Bukhari, senior adviser to the chairman and chief executive at Azizi Developments. “Somebody can avail a post-handover payment plan and pay less than what they’re paying in rent.”
Emaar has an “unstoppable offer” across several of its master communities, including Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, Arabian Ranches, the under-construction Dubai Hills Estate and Emaar South near the Expo 2020 site. The offer includes a three-year service charge waiver, 100 per cent DLD fee waiver and a three-year post-completion 25/75 payment plan, where 25 per cent is paid on completion and 75 per cent is spread out over the plan.
Nakheel has a range of ready-to-occupy and off-plan homes with special offers in various areas across Dubai, including Palm Jumeirah, Al Furjan, Dragon City and Nad Al Sheba.
At the Palm Tower, studios starting at Dh1.7m and apartments starting at Dh3m come with seven-year payment plans, a five-year service charge waiver and free DLD registration. A purchase of a one or two-bedroom beachfront apartment at the Azure Residences on The Palm comes with a two-year free clubhouse membership.
On the lower end of the price spectrum is Dragon Towers, next to Dragon Mart in International City. One-bedroom apartments start from Dh440,000 and two-bedroom apartments from Dh670,000. Offering five-year payment plans with two years post-handover, the property can be paid for in 1 per cent monthly instalments starting from Dh4,490.
“Our investment opportunities are encouraging more people to get on the property ladder, either with a home to live in themselves, or a unit to rent out,” says Aqil Kazim, Nakheel’s chief commercial officer. “We are seeing a combination of first-time buyers and seasoned investors taking advantage of our attractive offers.”