Estate agents in Dubai are reporting an uptick in home sales.
Dubai property sales improve
The recent surge in home sales in Dubai has not been affected by the recent political unrest in the Middle East, say property agents.
The number of transactions has been steadily increasing in the emirate over the past few months, they say.
"We're busy," said Jackie Johns, a managing partner of Dubai Luxury Homes.
Sales are "easily 100 per cent" better than the same time last year, Ms Johns said, adding that last year was an especially poor period for selling property.
Ms Johns said recent clients included Egyptians looking for second homes. "They haven't conducted transactions yet, but they're looking quite seriously," she said.
Other agents have not encountered an influx of buyers from the region.
But they tell similar stories about sales.
While the number of transactions has not rebounded to the heights achieved before the global downturn, sales activity is reaching levels that haven't been reached in months, agents say.
"We have had the best month for a long time," said Tomas Ghassemi, the director of The Property Store. His recent clients include investors from Russian and India.
"There are more buyers in the market," Mr Ghassemi said. "I don't think there has been as much buying for the last two years."
The Property Store recently handled the sale of a labour camp. "A labour camp transaction never would have happened a year ago," Mr Ghassemi said.
Although sales may be increasing in Dubai, analysts say prices have not yet bottomed out. The increasing supply of homes will continue to place a downward pressure on prices, they say.
An additional 25,500 residential homes are scheduled for completion this year, according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the property firm.
The number of residential transactions fell by 53 per cent last year from 2009, JLL reported. Although there are "pockets of stabilisation" for Dubai's higher end residential product, the oversupply of homes is expected to prevent any price recovery before next year, JLL said.
But the increased availability of lending and prices that are half those of peak levels in many neighbourhoods are spurring activity.
"Correct pricing" is a term often used by agents these days. Properties that are realistically priced, reflecting the downturn, are selling, while homes priced above the market are not, they say.
"Activity within the sales market has been strong in the sense that people continue to search for good deals," said Tom Bunker, the investment sales consultant for Better Homes. "This type of activity was seen throughout most of 2010 and seems to be continuing now in 2011."
Buyers are focusing on properties in completed developments that are capable of generating rental yields, agents says.
Rental rates in Dubai showed signs of stabilising in the fourth quarter of last year, according to Asteco, the property management company.
Apartment rental rates fell 17 per cent last year, but only 3 per cent in the fourth quarter, according to Asteco data.
In luxury developments such as Palm Jumeirah and Arabian Ranches, both sales and rental prices held steady in the fourth quarter, Asteco reported. In many suburbs, there is a limited supply of homes available, which is helping to spur sales. "Sales activity is definitely increasing," said Musa Ayoob, the sales and leasing manager for Navi Real Estate. He has only handled three sales in recent weeks, but he added that "for a small real estate company, that's significant.
"Last year I don't think we did any sales in the first quarter of the year."