Tuesday, June 02, 2009

UAE property sector sees first ray of hope: HSBC Report

The UAE property market has begun to bottom out, with prices beginning to stabilize, but the values are likely to drop further, with more properties entering the market, a HSBC report said.

The property prices in the UAE increased by 4 percent and 5 percent, month-on-month in April and May respectively, but continued to remain below 23 percent from its peak during September 2008.

With growing signs of levelling out of property prices in the UAE, the Gulf markets surged yesterday, with the Doha and Dubai markets recording their biggest gains in months.

Dubai stocks increased their most in more than three months, following the HSBC report that UAE property prices may be stabilizing. Even Qatar property sector received a major boost, with the government’s decision to buy real estate portfolios of local banks.

The Head of UAE Equity Research at HSBC Global Research, David Lepper, said that the market data during April and May have shown a range of positive indicators, such as rise in property prices, the banks loosening their lending criteria and increase in volumes.

Gulf markets have brought in considerable interest from international investors during recent months, as the global emerging markets have sent signals that the recession is easing out.

UAE property prices met with a steep decline in prices from their peak in September last year, with the financial crisis putting a sudden halt to the five-year boom, further contributed by high oil prices and cheap funds.

Even other property markets in the region have witnessed decline, although Dubai has seen 65 percent drop in property prices from its peak in September 2008.

During the next five years, Dubai economy would depend on more sustainable sectors, such as transport, health care and financial services, thereby undergoing a structural shift, said Dr. Omar bin Sulaiman, the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) Governor.

Abu Dhabi also has seen an increase in property transactions during recent months, with more finished properties hitting the market. Several banks, including Barclays and Standard Chartered, have eased their lending requirements, while also increasing their loan-to-value ratios.

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