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The year 2014 will remain significant in UAE history for a number of reasons, as far as the real estate sector is concerned.
First of all, the market showed clear signs of maturity amid growth and decline in certain areas.
However, these fluctuations were within manageable limits, and the market behavior was in line with that of a mature market.
The year started with a clear sign of boom – both in rental and freehold sales – carrying on from Dubai's historic win of the World Expo 2020 bid, which created a strong investor sentiment.
We have witnessed the sudden flurry of activities in the freehold sales market at the beginning of the year. We have seen a number of developers, who were absent during the crisis period, coming back to the market.
It was just around that time that the Dubai Land Department (DLD) had also stepped up vigilance on trying to curb speculation to protect the sector from the emergence of ''cowboys.''
The DLD then doubled the registration fee to curb speculative buying. This had a very intended effect, nearly eliminating the re-emergence of the fly-by-night operators.
At the latter part, most major developers continued to release new inventories for larger brokers like us to expand the market and investor base, which worked really well.
Property buyers, who have seen the market evolve over a decade, have also become more educated, mature and responsible. They now buy properties from established developers and those who have a reputation in the market.
Besides, Dubai's property market has moved to a very responsible regulatory regime, in just seven years, from 2006 to 2013.
Now, a developer cannot sell ''artist's impressions'' unless he has paid for the land acquisition in full, received all the necessary building permits and opened an escrow account, among other formalities.
The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) is very strict on all these issues, and violators are being fined.
The brokers, guided by the RERA rules, know what they can and cannot do. These developments have made Dubai's real estate market more stable, responsible and mature.
With the Expo 2020 hype coming to a more realistic level, we have seen the market stabilize. In some cases, the prices have come down to a more rational level.
This year, we have witnessed a clear choice made by property buyers, who are investing in properties from developers they trust. The time-tested people who have cruised through the recession have been clear favorites.
If this trend continues, this will support good players with a solid track record of delivery, and eliminate irresponsible developers and strengthen the market.
The residential real estate market will continue to grow in Dubai while commercial freehold property might remain under pressure due to access inventory.
However, developers who are focusing on delivery and quality products will be clear winners.
Going forward, as the market matures further, developers who can offer better financial options and strike good mortgage deals with banks for their projects will dominate the market as most families with household incomes in excess of Dh25,000 to Dh30,000 may move into their freehold homes by putting their rents into mortgage payment.
In a nutshell, it has been a great year for all of us in the real estate market, us who want the market to grow and behave responsibly.
Read about Dubai Expo 2020's first milestone in six-year journey
Source: Mahendra Pratap Singh, Special to Freehold
The writer is Managing Director - SPF Realty