By Courtney Trenwith
Tilal Properties says emirate’s scheme to open up land to non-Arab UAE residents for the first time has proven popular
Non-Arab expatriates are buying up land in Sharjah for the first time, taking advantage of new legislation in the emirate.
About 70 percent of the emirate’s first community opened up to non-Arab expat buyers, Tilal City, has been sold, according to developer Tilal Properties.
Of the buyers, about 28-30 percent are from non-Arab countries, Tilal Properties business development executive director Haysam Jazairi told Arabian Business.
They include Brits, Americans, Canadians, Europeans, Russians and citizens of south Asian countries.
Launched in November 2014, Tilal City comprises 1855 land plots and is the first opportunity for non-Arab UAE residents to buy or lease land and develop properties in Sharjah. So far zones A and C have been released to buyers.
While Arab citizens can purchase land freehold, non-Arab expats can only buy on a 100-year leasehold basis. However, Jazairi said the lease could be extended or passed down to descendants.
The land plots are due to be handed over to owners by the end of 2016.
Jazairi said most buyers intended to build single-storey residences.
“We’re encouraging small investors,” he said.
“Some are buying to live in long-term or some are buying to sell, some are investing [to rent] because we’re encouraging the smaller investor to come on board.”
The community had been attractive because of its cheaper sale price compared to Dubai and the ability for buyers to build their own stand-alone home, while being located a few kilometres from Dubai, where majority of expats work, Jazairi said.
Land plots were available from AED110 per square foot, he said.
“The cheaper [plots] are already sold out,” he said.
“[The scheme] will give opportunities to people who couldn’t afford to live in such a development. We’ve attracted small investors who couldn’t invest before, [now they] can invest in a smaller building instead of building 33 floors for the price of a villa if he’s building in the surrounding emirates.
“We’re giving him the chance to take his own time to build and choose his own constructor and requirements. At the same time, he can live in it, rent it or sell it.
“So the smaller investor will grow, he has flexibility in his development.”
An increasing number of expats are preferring to live in Sharjah and commute to work in other emirates such as Dubai, where rents are far higher.
The less-glamorous emirate has taken advantage of its expanding population and has been stepping up development in recent years, often promoting itself as a more affordable alternative to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, while still within commuting range.
Tilal Properties has announced that its flagship development, Tilal City in Sharjah, has registered sales of 70 percent of land plots within two of its key zones.
Tilal Properties, a joint venture between Sharjah Asset Management and Eskan Real Estate Development, launched the project last November.
Tilal City comprises 1,855 land plots, offering the opportunity to UAE residents to buy or lease land and develop properties in Sharjah for the first time, the company said in a statement.
The development allows investors to build for sale, leasing and personal use. Non-Arab expats can purchase land plots on a 100-year leasehold basis within the scheme, with freehold land plots available for GCC nationals and UAE's Arab residents, it added.
Split into five zones (A-E), the masterplanned community will occupy an area of 25 million square feet and provide affordable housing for 55,000-65,000 residents in apartments, villas and townhouses.
To date, 70 percent of all available plots in zones A and C - which are the first two zones to be handed over in end-2016 - have been sold, the company said, adding that the new flexibility in owning land has been a key driver behind investors' interest.
"Tilal City is the first development of its kind in Sharjah to present such a broad range of investment opportunities," said Khalifa Al Shaibani, director general of Tilal Properties.
"Buyers can choose to build their own home, build to rent, or invest in a commercial or retail property. The high sales volumes we have seen in zones A and C confirms the importance of opening up the project's investment opportunities to UAE residents and the position of Sharjah as an attractive real estate investment area."
A shopping mall will take shape as the development's anchor facility along with a central park. Adjacent to the mall and the central park area, zone A comprises 296 apartments, with three schools, two community centres and a mosque also planned.
Zone C, the largest of the five areas, features 673 villas with the option to build townhouses, semi-detached or detached villas. It also includes parks and a mosque, in addition to educational and community facilities.For all the latest real estate news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.