Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Dubai real estate NOT affected by negative equity problems

The full scope of the real estate meltdown in Dubai is not clear and will be evident only after a few months. The Gowealthy Research Team evaluated the Negative Equity Problem in detail and has noted that it has not affected the Dubai real estate market. The term Negative Equity implies a condition in which the value of the asset used to secure the loan slides below the outstanding balance of the loan. High interest rates and a drop in the property prices have forced small-time speculators to undersell their properties in Dubai. But after evaluating prices at the various freehold clusters, we have observed that although there has been a price correction of 30 to 40 per cent at Palm Jumeirah, Business Bay and Dubai Waterfront as well as several high-yield zones, Dubai does not face negative equity problems. Our study reveals that the Dubai Property Bubble has ended; property developers are either scaling back their new projects or discussing mergers/ take overs to grapple with the situation.

Currently expatriate buyers in Dubai are guaranteed mortgages of up to 65% of the total value of the property and national buyers over 80%. Property buyers cannot avail of full mortgage options. It is only recently, in 2007 to be precise, that home financiers and lending institutions started issuing flexible loan packages. Under such circumstances, the issue of negative equity does not arise because buyers are not allowed the total price of the asset as mortgage.

Following the global liquidity crunch, banks and financial institutions in the country have tightened their lending policies and raised interest rates despite government reassurances. A majority of such agencies have even stopped issuing mortgages. Why has this happened? Primarily because, the mortgage crisis-induced credit collapse has restricted banks and financiers from lending money to one another. To overcome the situation, the Government has come up with a 'rescue' plan and announced the merger of the country's top financiers, Amlak and Tamweel into the federally administered Real Estate Bank.

The abrupt disruptions in credit flow have affected both real estate developers and investors, resulting in a general slowdown of the sector. Yet, in stark contrast to reports that failure of risk and recovery models adopted by the region's banks and financing institutions led to the current credit crisis, we note that the bulk of funds were used to finance investment assets like shares and bonds.