UAE residents spend more time researching, looking through property listings and viewing homes than people in nine other countries, according to a new survey from HSBC.
The survey, conducted by Europe's biggest bank by assets in November and December of last year, polled 11,932 adults aged 21 and over in the US, Canada, Mexico, France, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and the UAE, which included 1,058 participants.
People in the UAE spend an average of 6.6 hours per week “window shopping” for homes, even when not in the market for a new house. The next highest was the US at 4.95 hours, while the lowest was France at 1.74 hours.
Of those surveyed in the UAE, 39 per cent own a home in the Emirates. Respondents had positive sentiments about buying property with 94 per cent saying they were “hopeful”, 89 per cent “excited” and 85 per cent “optimistic”, 12 points higher than global averages.
“The UAE continues to be a destination of choice for career-minded expats with more and more making it their home,” said Marwan Hadi, head of retail banking and wealth management at HSBC UAE. “The fact that sentiments around buying property are positive is indicative of the development of the sector.”
For UAE residents planning their next five years, 35 per cent said that buying a new home is a top priority, compared to 22 per cent citing career progression and 20 per cent saying marriage.
As for sticking to a financial plan, 59 per cent of respondents said they adhered to a strict budget — 12 points higher than the global average — while 37 per cent said they went over budget.
When deciding on a mortgage, UAE homeowners, overseas owners and those intending to buy in the next decade, said the most important considerations are attractive interest rates, affordable monthly payments, a trustworthy mortgage provider and an easy application process.
According to the survey, 38 per cent of UAE homeowners check the value of their properties, whether in country or overseas, at least once a month, compared to 28 per cent of US owners and 14 per cent of UK owners.
“Now is a good time to be considering buying a home in the UAE. Average prices have fallen by around 10 per cent in Dubai over the past year, but the rate of decline has slowed in recent quarters as the market approaches the bottom of its cycle,” said Craig Plumb, head of research at real estate consultancy JLL Mena.
“Most families do not currently own a property in the UAE and the present soft market conditions provide an opportunity for those families renting space today to get on to the housing ladder,” he added.