Property sales in Dubai fell by half in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, according to the Land Department. Property agents, however, say the data is skewed and does not reflect market conditions.
"People are doing much more business this year," said Tomas Ghassemi, the managing director of the Property Store.
The Land Department recorded 2,231 sales in the first quarter compared with 4,478 in thesame quarter last year, according to Reidin, which tracks Land Department data.
The data reflects when sales were registered, not when they occurred. And last year's figures may have been exaggerated by a rush of buildings that were handed over late in 2009 and early last year. But the data does provide a barometer of the marketplace, said Saurabh Sharma, a research manager for Reidin. "The same assumptions I make for the 2010 data are the same assumptions for the 2011 data."
But property agents say business has been stronger so far this year compared with last year. Transaction numbers for the first quarter of last year may have been distorted by a rush of registrations for completed buildings, they said.
"What we've found is the number of transactions is up from the same time last year," said Ryan Mahoney, the chief executive of Better Homes, a large Dubai property agent.
Better Homes recorded a 20 per cent increase in the number of transactions in the first quarter. "Things are definitely positive from our perspective,"said Mr Mahoney. A sales index tracked by Alembic HC Securities, the brokerage, shows a more moderate 16 per cent decline in sales volumes in the first quarter, according to a report released yesterday.
Over the past six months agreed prices in Dubai have stabilised at about Dh9,000 (US$2,450) a square metre, which is "slightly above" levels at the end of 2007, the brokerage reported. "We feel that the market may have found a floor," it said.
The Reidin data shows the average transaction price recorded by the department was 49 per cent higher than a year ago, suggesting buyers are targeting more expensive properties.
Estate agents say they are seeing more interest in the mid to higher-end of the market. The average price of a sale is closer to Dh2 million this year compared to Dh1.5 million last year, said Mr Ghassemi.