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Sat 11 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Grand design

Tim Boswell, Ocean View Real Estate's managing director, discusses his company’s development in the Middle East property industry.

Grand design
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Tim Boswell, Ocean View Real Estate's managing director, discusses his company’s development in the Middle East property industry.

How long have you been operating in the region?

We have been operating in the Middle East since the beginning of 2001.

Dubai has a very positive leadership with a genuine belief that it can be – and will be – the best. It gives anyone of any nationality a feeling of hope and real ambition that they can achieve anything here.

What role did you play in establishing Dubai's secondary freehold property market?

We created and launched the secondary real-estate market of Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Marina, which opened recently in the Dubai showroom.

How do you set yourself apart from the competition in such a crowded sector?

We have the most experienced and professional sales team in Dubai, with a loyal database of quality global investors.

Do you think the market has reached saturation point?

I genuinely feel the market is far from saturation point because so many developments launched over the previous three years and due to be completed between now and 2010 are delayed, or yet to be started, so the statistics for completed properties show there is a shortfall.

Anyone who talks about over-supply is not aware of what is happening in the market. Nobody has ever asked us what interest we are receiving and what business we are doing, so how do they evaluate supply and demand?

How much do you expect it to grow?

As Dubai's earliest developments are handed over, the world's most futuristic city is taking shape, with iconic developments such as Burj Tower, the Atlantis resort, Dubai Creek, Dubailand and, of course, all the waterfront developments. How can anyone visit here and fail to be impressed? The whole world is confused about the success of Dubai but "Dubai Inc" is a new concept that does, and will always, work. For this reason I feel that there will be no downturn in growth for another 20 years.

How does Dubai compare in terms of demand to markets in other parts of the world? What are the key characteristics of the local market?

How it compares with other markets in the world is that Dubai has a very positive leadership with a genuine belief that it can be - and will be - the best. It focuses on a business-type approach that gives anyone of any nationality a feeling of hope and real ambition that they can achieve anything here. The Dubai Dream is the new American Dream.

What are the most popular developments in the Middle East?

There are too many to name but they are all in the UAE.

As prices continue to rise, is there any danger that some demographics will be priced out of the market?

I believe that developers are soon to be forced into a more realistic launch price to encourage them to have a real-estate property approach, as opposed to a stock market approach.

Are most of your customers buying to invest or are increasing numbers looking to settle here?

Increasing numbers are relocating to this area and 70% of our business comes from within the UAE, as opposed to five years ago, when 80% of clients came internationally from outside the UAE.

Do you have any words of advice for those looking to invest in the region?

The best advice I can give to investors at this time is to look at the price per square foot as opposed to the down payment. It is better to pay a premium on an investment of true value per square foot than to pay a high price per square foot, but with an easy payment schedule. Look at what you are buying and use your common sense. Most of all, deal with Ocean View.

Do you plan to expand your Middle East operations?

We are in the process of opening in Abu Dhabi in partnership with SBK Holdings. Our main focus will be on Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and for the next 10 years that is enough to concentrate on. My belief is that both areas will complement each other and I view them as one market.

What challenges do you face operating in the Middle East?

The biggest challenge is working within an evolving market that moves at such a fast pace. But the government is trying to create infrastructure for massive growth plus legislation for legitimacy.

If everyone works together towards a common goal, that has to be the success of the market. Expanding a company can be a very difficult process but, unlike other markets in the world, we still have an ambition here to become bigger and better at what we do. This whole market is a new concept and each day we learn new lessons. That, together with vision and focus, means there can be no other market in the world with a future as bright as ours.

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