Property prices on Palm Jebel Ali fall by up to 40%

EXCLUSIVE: Off-plan hotspot hit by global crisis as investors are forced to reduce price.
Property prices on Palm Jebel Ali fall by up to 40%
By Claire Ferris-Lay and Dylan Bowman
Thu 06 Nov 2008 10:52 AM

House prices on the Palm Jebel Ali, second largest of Nakheel’s palm-shaped islands, have fallen by as much as 40 percent in the last two months as the global financial crisis sees foreign investors move to liquidate assets in Dubai, according to three Dubai-based real estate agents.

“I never expected [prices on the Palm Jebel Ali] would have come back so quickly and by so much,” said Jeroen Van Der Geer, partner at AA Properties in Dubai. “We are back to a level of one and a half to two years ago.”

The global financial crisis has hit demand from foreign investors, which make up a large percentage of property buyers in Dubai, while tightening liquidity has made home financing more difficult, agents said.

Local mortgage providers have slashed home financing from 90 percent to as little as 60 percent in recent weeks.

The price of five and six bedroom signature villas, the most expensive properties on Palm Jebel Ali, have dropped from around 16 million dirhams ($4.35 million) to 9 million dirhams since the beginning of September, according to figures from AA Properties.

But that still represents a premium of between 70 percent to 80 percent on the original launch prices.

A four-bed garden home has fallen from around 7.4 million dirhams to 4.1 million dirhams, according to the figures, with the premium dropping from around 160 percent to 45 percent.

The figures show a three-bed water home, the cheaper of the Palm Jebel Ali properties, is now selling for around 3.8 million dirhams, when at the beginning of September it was selling for 6.2 million dirhams, with the premium falling from about 210 percent to 90 percent.

Jodie Smith, managing director of Elysian Real Estate, said garden homes were currently selling at around 4.5 million dirhams, compared to 8.6 million at the beginning of September, while water homes had come down to around 4 million dirhams from 6.5 million dirhams.

David Rowland, sales consultant at Dubai’s Smith & Ken Real Estate, said he had seen premiums on signature villas drop from 200-210 percent in July/August to 75-80 percent currently.

Rowland said he had also seen garden homes selling at a 35-40 percent premium, compared to 130-160 percent in July/August.

He described the drop as “quite alarming”.

Rowland said sales had not completely dried up on the Palm Jebel Ali, but investors were having to accept premiums of around 35-40 percent to make a sale.

Rowland said premiums could go as low as 20 percent before property prices rebound.

“I think we will see a rebound. Palm Jebel Ali may go down to as low as 20 percent [premium]. When it does we will see people start to come back to the market, maybe in December,” he said.

Van Der Geer said he expected demand for properties on Palm Jebel Ali return before Christmas as global financial markets stabilise and investor confidence begins to return.

“It is a good opportunity for investors now and I believe the [long-term] picture is good. Prices will go back up,” he said.

Smith said she had already seen sales pick up this week, with investors taking advantage of bargain prices to snap up properties that just a few months ago were out of their price range.

Nakheel said in a statement that it welcomed “all proposals and discussions by all industry-related partners aimed at maintaining a healthy market movement under the current circumstances”.

“Nakheel realises that it does not work in isolation and has a great number of partners and third parties whose interests are intertwined with its own. This approach is a very responsible approach in line with current global economic conditions,” the developer said.

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