By Andy Sambidge
Chesterton says schemes would help expats afford to buy amid emirate's booming house price rises
Chesterton, the international property agency, has called on Dubai developers to reintroduce rent-to-own schemes to help expats struggling to afford to buy in the emirate's booming real estate market.
The company said rent-to-own schemes, which were popular during the early 2000s when Dubai was establishing its own property marketplace, would help those struggling to afford to buy amid stricter regulations designed to cool rising prices.
It added in a statement that the objective of these schemes would also "inspire confidence in buyers and reduce the risk element in buying into the UAE market".
Robin Teh, country manager, director valuations and advisory at Chesterton MENA, said: "There are several expats who have been here for years and are now looking at buying a property, but are finding it difficult due to the current mortgage cap restrictions
"Exponential growth in the UAE property market has made buying a property - a near difficult proposition for majority of end-users. Mortgage regulations requiring 50 percent of down payment for expatriates has further made the option to mortgage an expensive deal. The regulations have stabilized the market and at the same time made property investment an 'unaffordable deal' for most expat residents who usually cannot cough up down payment requirements.
"The solution to this is rent-to-own option which gives you the flexibility to terminate the contract towards the end of the tenure if the decision has not been made to purchase the house without any penalty," he added.
A typical rent-to-own real estate agreement is structured like an option contract. It allows the tenant to purchase the property at a fixed price within a specific period of time.
A portion of the monthly rent paid during the lease period is counted towards the down payment on the property. Usually the property is leased higher than the market rate to cover the option price or the deposit that tenant has to pay to activate the option.
If the tenant is unable to exercise the option to buy, the owner is then free to rent or sell the property to another buyer.
Simon Gray, managing director, Chesterton MENA said: "Rent-to own schemes have various benefits for both tenants and developers. While sellers get an option fee and potential buyer, tenants get to live-in the property and try out the neighbourhood before actually settling in for the long-term.
"It also provides an opportunity for the seller to sell the property at a higher asking price because buyers who cannot own a house in any other way are usually willing to offer a higher future price based on the assumption that the market will improve."
He added: "From developer's point of view, offering a lease-to-own scheme will surely open up an additional pool of potential buyers and is an option worth considering as the market starts to further consolidate.
"The objective of these schemes will inspire confidence in buyers and reduce the risk element in buying into the UAE market. Such schemes would benefit the investors and sellers in the current scenario, where the property prices have become more stable after exponential growth over the last year."
This is undoubtedly a well founded lobby, back in the previous boom both Emaar and Union Properties, plus a number of others, adopted this approach and it worked to the advantage of both parties.
Prices are slowing but they have still risen too quickly over a short period for a measured recovery, which continues to sound the bubble alarm bells.
The real estate market can be a boon for the Government, developers, the individual buyers and everyone in between like brokers and contractors etc provided things are done right. If done right, all the jokers and fly by night swindlers will not see light of the day. Only the good substantial property buyers who are small or large and any investors will be in the market giving credibility to the whole trade. The Government has to use carrot and stick to the developers, specially the developers who flaunt the guidelines and laws. Among some of the rules developers are to follow should be a) enough liquidity b) strictly follow escrow account rules c) and must have strict completion dates requirement. There were small projects in Greater Dubai that were sold in 2006 when Burj Khalifa was starting. Till now Burj Khalifa is finished and occupied but whereas such complex is still a year away to be finished.