By Shane McGinley
Property experts say sales have almost dried up due to liquidity problems.
Real estate sales in Sharjah are “virtually non-existent,” agents in the emirate have told Arabian Business.
Kosta Giannopoulos, manager of residential sales and leasing at Better Homes Sharjah said “sales transactions were always fairly low as you couldn’t buy freehold.” While there are still a number of sales to GCC nationals, the market is now “virtually non-existent."
“It’s been worse in Sharjah as people simply stopped any property purchases,” said Natalya Shapovalova, a sales and leasing consultant at the same agency.
Financing has been an issue and Shapovalova said that some banks are now not even lending to GCC nationals for property in Sharjah.
In terms of rental levels, landlords have been slow to reduce rents in line with the downturn and, as a result, are losing tenants, said Shapovalova. However, she pointed out that rents have fallen by about 30 percent from their peak at the end of 2008.
Robin Teh, director of the research and valuations department at Chesterton International agency, was more upbeat and told Arabian Business the emirate never experienced the same level of speculation that was seen in Dubai.
“We have heard that there are some standalone developments that have stopped due to financial reason but currently this is not a major problem,” said Teh.
The real estate industry may be suffering but the tourism sector is still on the way up, according to recent statistics from the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA).
The SCTDA said the number of visitors to Sharjah rose nine percent during the second half of 2009, which is a turnaround from the fifteen percent drop seen in the first half of the year. The statistics also show that last year the number of rooms available in the emirate rose 14 percent to 8,727.
However, occupancy rates have suffered, falling from 80 percent in 2009 to 69 percent last year. The SCTDA said Europeans accounted for 42 percent of visitors, the GCC 23 percent and only two percent were from the US.
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