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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

UAE residents go house hunting: Buyer interest at two-year high, says propertyfinder.ae

The level of interest has increased by 28 per cent since January.
The Dubai Land Department reported a 14 per cent increase in transactions in the first quarter. Sarah Dea / The National
The Dubai Land Department reported a 14 per cent increase in transactions in the first quarter. Sarah Dea / The National

The property portal propertyfinder.ae has said that buyer interest in new homes in the UAE is running at its highest level in two years, having increased by 28 per cent since January.

The company said that pro­perty prices had fallen by 20 to 40 per cent in most parts of the country over the past 18 to 24 months, and that uncertainty in global markets at the start of the year, when oil prices hit 14-year lows, had hit market sentiment.

However, Lukman Hajje, the company’s chief commercial officer, said that the ratio of site users looking for property to buy had increased to 32 per cent of the total in the first half of this month – up from just 25 per cent in January.

“This is a significant shift from January and is the highest level of buyer interest we’ve seen since mid-2014,” he said.

He was unwilling to state that the market had bottomed out, though, as other commentators have claimed.

Valustrat said that its index of property prices in Dubai re­ported positive price growth in both February and March this year.

The Dubai Land Department also reported a 14 per cent increase in transactions, albeit at lower prices than in the first three months of 2015. JLL’s head of research, Craig Plumb, said that he expected prices to increase later this year.

“It’s still too soon to be certain,” said Mr Hajje. “It’s definitely a buyer’s market and most sellers are negotiable on their price. But that could change quickly,” he said.

The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s said last month that it expected average house prices in Dubai to fall by a further 10 per cent this year, with “no sign of improvement on the immediate horizon” as the low oil price and a strong US dollar continues to weigh.

However, the broker JLL said there were signs that price declines were slowing, and that it expects values to increase later this year.

And property sales in Dubai helped to lift Emaar Properties’ first-quarter profit by 17 per cent year-on-year, with the sale of luxury off-plan flats recording a 32 per cent increase on the same period a year earlier.

In the capital, Aldar said that the property market is “still strong”, when it reported its first-quarter earnings last week. It plans to launch more mid-income housing projects after its Meera Shams scheme was 90 per cent sold in less than six months.

mfahy@thenational.ae

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