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Sharjah is opening up its residential property market to direct investments by non-Arab expatriates holding a UAE resident visa.
For the first time, non-Arab expats can acquire plots at a newly launched master-development in Sharjah — the 'Tilal City' — on 100-year leases. Until now, only UAE and GCC nationals were allowed to acquire plots and properties in the emirate.
The project is located on Emirates Road, close to Al Dhaid interchange, and 10 kilometres from Sharjah International Airport. Tilal City will eventually be home to 65,000 residents.
Plots have gone on sale with prices ranging from Dh110 a square foot to Dh303 depending on plot size, position and usage. The average plot will be around 7,500 per square feet, and investors could even acquire multiple plots or ''entire zones''. Construction works have started on site, with full project completion projected for end 2017.
The project is helmed by Tilal Properties, a new joint venture between Sharjah Asset Management and Eskan Real Estate Development. Cluttons, the property services consultancy, is providing the sales and marketing support.
Once they acquire the plot, investors need to conform to a set of guidelines on what they intend to use it for and how. Plot usage could be for villas or apartment buildings, but subject to developer approval. Once the properties are built up, investors could exercise their options on how best to utilise them.
''We are already recording a strong interest in plots and expect this ground breaking development to pave the way for further similar developments in the near future,'' said Steve Morgan, Chief Executive, Cluttons Middle East.
The Tilal City master plan features four zones consisting of neighbourhoods and clusters, 'linked together via green public spaces and corridors', according to a statement issued by Cluttons. 'They will centre around a shopping mall and central park and contain a mix of villas, apartments and town houses'.
According to the project promoters, there are no restrictions on who an investor can appoint to develop the acquired plot. But ''Tilal Properties are keen to ensure that Tilal City becomes a thriving community, so will recommend developers and facilitate the process if required... but there are no restrictions.''
Cluttons was on board through the 36-month development phase of Tilal City, undertaking market studies and benchmarking exercises.
Sharjah's residential property market has been experiencing a sharp upturn for the better part of two years. While the rate of growth in rentals had subsided in the third quarter, its key neighbourhoods and recently completed high-rises are recording optimum occupancy levels.
According to Khalifa Al Shaibani, Director-General of Tilal Properties, ''Our collaborative partnership (with Cluttons) has helped to ensure the successful launch of this mixed-use community. We are already seeing strong demand for this exciting scheme in Sharjah, which is becoming an increasingly popular emirate.''
Within the broader UAE realty sector, subtle changes have been coming about in recent times. Abu Dhabi recently granted properties sold by Aldar to have the freehold status, an upgrade from the long-term leasehold they used to have.
''Certainly, the options are opening up for investors looking at exposure in the UAE,'' said Chandrakant Whabi, CEO of Acrohouse Properties. ''Dubai's long-term leasehold developments such as Green Community have historically been popular with investors alongside the freehold choices the emirate offers.
''What the new Sharjah initiative does is open up new possibilities for investors looking to broaden their portfolios and their yields. But there will be a lot of competition from the more established freehold investment clusters in Dubai, which, right now, has got a mix of price points from low to high.''
Read about Sharjah's rental spike which could be running out of steam
Source: Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, gulfnews.com