Dubai as Worst Market No Deterrent for Emaar Creekside Homes

  • Developer to start sales for Creekside project on Sept. 12
  • Off-plan market driven by attractive payment plans, CBRE says

Emaar Properties PJSC is offering hundreds of new luxury homes in Dubai that could sell for as much as 3.8 million dirhams ($1 million) each just as the city’s residential real estate market posted the world’s biggest price decline.

Creekside 18, with 480 apartments spread across two towers, will hit the market on Sept. 12, according to Emaar’s website. Creekside will be part of the Dubai Creek Harbour project, a 6.5 million square-meter (70 million square-foot) district it’s building with Dubai Holding LLC. The multi-billion dollar development will have a marina, yacht club, hotels and stores.

Dubai’s housing market, the biggest and most volatile in the Middle East, is in the doldrums as falling oil prices, weaker currencies in Europe and Russia and an abundance of properties on the market damp demand. Home prices dropped by 12.2 percent in the 12 months through June, the biggest decline among 56 residential markets tracked by broker Knight Frank.

“Gone are the days where we see queues of potential investors lining the streets waiting for their opportunity to buy,” Matthew Green, the Dubai-based head of United Arab Emirates research at CBRE, said by phone Wednesday. “Off-plan launches have tended to be a slightly more subdued affair in recent months as the market has cooled.” 

Boom to Bust

Over the past decade, Dubai’s property sector has swung from boom to bust and back again. At the peak of the market in 2007, long lines of investors would often queue outside Emaar’s sales office to snap up homes at its latest development. That was before a property crash in 2008 wiped 65 percent off home values as speculative demand dried up.

Creekside will compete with developments including Damac Properties Dubai Co.’s AKOYA Oxygen project and Deyaar Development PJSC’s Midtown district for homebuyers.

One-bedroom apartments in Creekside 18 may sell for about 1.3 million dirhams, two-bedrooms for between 1.5 million dirhams and 2 million dirhams, while three-bedroom units could sell for as much as 3.8 million dirhams, according to two property brokers who asked not to be identified because Emaar hasn’t officially announced prices yet.

“Demand for Emaar’s projects in Dubai continues to be robust, with serious interest from end-use home-owners and international investors,” Emaar said in e-mailed comments. “We manage our supply pipeline carefully and we see a strong opportunity for a new project launch, particularly in Dubai Creek Harbour.”

Emaar was up 3.7 percent at 6.42 dirhams at the close of trading in Dubai. The shares have fallen 12 percent since the start of the year. Deyaar shares gained 3.1 percent and are 22 percent lower this year.

The cost of renting a two-bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina, Emaar’s first waterfront development in the city, amounts to $3,500 to $4,000 a month, about the same as a three-bedroom apartment in Paris’s 17th arrondissement, according to an Aug. 30 report by property portal propertyfinder.ae.

‘Compelling Views’

“There is no comparable development” along Dubai Creek, home to the city’s only wildlife sanctuary for birds including flamingos, Emaar said. The new towers are close to Dubai airport and, according to the developer, offer “compelling views” of the skyline.

Price gains in Dubai in the two years through 2014 recouped much of the losses incurred in the 2008 collapse that pushed the city to the brink of bankruptcy. Then, prices started falling again this year amid oil’s slump and weaker currencies in Russia and Europe. Regulators also introduced caps on the size of mortgages and doubled transaction fees to deter speculation.

Cityscape Global, the Middle East’s biggest property trade show will start in Dubai on Sept. 8, showcasing the city’s latest developments and encouraging potential investors to buy.

“The off-plan market is currently driven by payment plans,” said CBRE’s Green. "Plans which offer low initial deposits, longer payment schedules and lump-sum payments after completion have become increasing popular as developers look for new ways to encourage investment."

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