Property queue is like the old days

Strong demand for the new Emaar development is positive signal that the Dubai property market may be heading towards genuine recovery.

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The scene was more reminiscent of the boom days of 2006 than of post-global recession 2012: queues of prospective buyers, or their surrogates, lined up at a property sales centre far in advance of the start of sales of units in a new high-end Dubai development.

As The National reported yesterday, hundreds braved Friday's 40°C weather to be up to 24 hours early outside Emaar's offices for the chance to invest in The Address The BLVD, in Downtown Dubai.

So is this the first green shoots of recovery? Property agents and brokers seem to think so, or at least hope so.

"I came here at about 8am and there were already people in line," said Narayan, 44, an Indian property agent. "The vast majority … are labourers drafted in by brokerages so that they have a presence in the line."

Such practices had been a feature of Dubai's property boom, which at one point saw a spike of 80 per cent in prices in just one year. Indeed, in those hectic days there were accounts of the first buyers purchasing several apartments, walking out of the office, and instantly selling the units on to those still queued up outside.

Police and property companies have discouraged such practices, which in some cases backfired on too-eager buyers. Between 2006 and 2008, Dubai property prices rose by up to 30 per cent, and we all know what happened in 2009.

But yesterday's scenes show that prime, well-located property in Dubai continues to be in real demand. This can only be heartening for everyone connected with the long-suffering sector.

Will the apparent success of Emaar's latest project prove to be a sign of things to come, with the long-mooted recovery of the property market becoming a reality? The signs yesterday indicating that most of the new buyers have learnt their lesson. Unlike the short-term mentality that characterised the boom years, most of these would-be buyers were saying that they consider this to be a long-term investment.

A stable revival of property markets, with realistic prices, is what all concerned really need.