It's the role of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) in Dubai to ensure that investors' money is safe and they have full faith in Dubai's property ecosystem, said Marwan bin Ghalita, CEO of Rera at the Dubai Land Department. He was speaking at the Cityscape Global Conference held in Dubai on Monday.
"Everyone in the market is worried about price and oversupply. It's the developers' duty to manage supply and identify if a project is feasible or not. Our job is to ensure that the investor money is safe. In most instances, we insist that 50 per cent of off-plan proceeds are deployed in an escrow account. At times, we even insist that certain developers put up 70 per cent of off-plan money in escrow," the senior official explained.
Exhorting investors to take advantage of the current attractive real estate prices, he said it is cheaper to buy property in Dubai now than a luxury car.
Speaking ahead of the Cityscape Global exhibition, which opens today and runs for three days at the Dubai World Trade Centre, bin Ghalita advised investors to due their due diligence and ask the right questions to developers. "Investors need to look for opportunities, see what suits them and negotiate with developers. My message to developers is deliver what you promise. You shouldn't spoil the market trust. You are the first line of defence. And, it is the role of brokers to educate buyers to take the right decision," he suggested.
According to the DLD, 9,500 first-time buyers purchased property in Dubai in the first eight months of 2018, resulting in transactions worth Dh19 billion. This includes 6,500 male and 3,000 female investors.
Bin Ghalita hinted that Cityscape would see the launch of a real estate wallet which would let people access their property portfolio online 24/7.
He called on banks to be more co-operative in lending to the real estate sector. "Developers are being creative and finding ways to finance their product. Most projects now offer 10-year post-handover payment plans, waiver of service charges, etc."
Highlighting Dubai's investment credentials, bin Ghalita cited how certain sub-markets in the city have been consistently offering 10 per cent returns for the past three years. "This is high by global standards. Dubai real estate is sustainable, both during and beyond Cityscape as well," he added.
Speaking at a panel discussion on the UAE's happiness agenda, Maan Al Awalaqi, executive director, commercial at Aldar Properties, said developers must use social media more to identify residents' problems and address them. This will help increase the level of happiness in a community.
"For a developer, happiness is a loyal/repeat customer. Social media allows us to view user-generated content. By logging into social media, we can see user comments and address their problems," Al Awalaqi remarked.
Meanwhile, Daniel Hart, the CEO of Masterkey, stressed the importance of tools to measure happiness. He referred to Dubai's happiness meter for consumers which identifies how service levels can be improved.
Abdullah Al-Abdooli, CEO of Al Marjan Island, said urban planners need to rethink the development agenda. "How can a project make people happy? We need to design our public realms in order to make people happy."