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Dubai: The UAE’s freehold and leasehold realty spaces are thinking beyond completed properties or off-plan projects to entice buyer interest.
Developers in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and, now, Sharjah, are letting investors, UAE nationals and expatriates alike, to acquire plots and build their own properties.
Earlier this week, the developer of Sharjah’s Tilal City master-development confirmed that any non-Arab expat with a valid UAE residency permit, can acquire plots there, making it the first such in Sharjah. They will be granted 100-year leasehold rights to the plot, but there will be no special visa incentives that come with the purchase.
GCC and Arab nationals with a valid UAE resident visa can have freehold rights to the plots, which have been priced between Dh110 a square foot and Dh303 per square foot.
"Each investor will appoint a contractor at their own discretion, so there is no primary contractor,” said Lucy Bush, head of sales and leasing at Cluttons, which is handling the sales and marketing of the Tilal City plots. “At present, land plots in Zones A, B, C and D are available for purchase, while the planned retail development will be located in Zone E,” she said.
Even in Dubai, developers are aiming to bring about a subtle shift by creating more opportunities for investors to acquire plots. Investors, on their part, could be just as receptive to change. This way they get to have greater flexibility in the way they can design and build properties within those plots. They also retain direct control over the construction process, which too, would be in their best interests.
“Over the last 12 months, Dubai has seen a decline in property transaction due to several changes (increase in registration fees and lower loan-to-value mortgage limits) in market dynamics,” said Cecilia Reinaldo, Managing Director at Fine & Country M.E.
“Many long-term investors now believe that these changes will enable the market to grow more steadily.
“However, institutional investors and developers have started to heavily invest in acquiring land as the development sentiment is still very strong. There is also a shortage of affordable housing which developers understand and are refocusing their marketing by targeting that. In addition, the prices of plots as they are now still represent great value to investors,” Reinaldo added.
In Dubai, Jumeirah Village Circle and Sports City are benefiting from increased transactional activity related to plots. “Depending on the plot size, the price range is between Dh110 and Dh160 per square foot, and at these values developers can create more housing stock priced in the mid-tier range,” said Niraj Masand, Partner at Banke M.E., a property service firm.
“Tilal City seems to be offering a wider range of plots and prices, and definitely of interest to buyers.
“But this is not going to set off competition between Dubai and Sharjah in attracting buyers. Sharjah has always been to call upon a core buyer base for its plot sales among local and GCC nationals. The only difference is that this base will be widened at Tilal City with non-Arab expats being allowed to have leasehold rights,” Masand added.