Goldman Sachs says concerns over Dubai housing bubble exaggerated

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 4:49am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 October, 2013, 4:49am

Concerns that Dubai's property market is a bubble are exaggerated as new regulations focused on curbing speculation and an increasing supply helps keep values down, according to a Goldman Sachs report.

Property prices are 36 per cent below their 2008 peak even after rising by about a third from a low in the second quarter of 2011, analysts wrote in a report this week. Dubai home values climbed at the fastest pace in the world in the second quarter, a survey by broker Knight Frank showed. The increases will slow down over the next 12 months after the return of speculators sparked "unsustainable" gains, Jones Lang LaSalle said earlier this month.

The surge prompted the Land Department to double property registration fees to 4 per cent. The real estate regulator is requiring developers to set aside a portion of a project's costs to limit the effect of advance sales in financing construction. Restrictions on mortgage lending, expected from the United Arab Emirates central bank this year, will also help cool the market, Goldman said.

Dubai's relative political stability and high rental yields of 5 per cent to 6 per cent will maintain its attractiveness, Goldman said. That compares with global yields of 2 per cent to 3 per cent, the analysts wrote. Last year, approximately 34 per cent of Dubai's property investors were from South Asia, followed by 15 per cent from Arab countries.

In neighbouring Abu Dhabi, residential prices have stabilised and rents are increasing in the best areas, helped by the relocation of 10,000 state employees from Dubai in the past eight months, the analysts estimated.

Abu Dhabi's government in September 2012 required all its employees to live in the capital to receive housing allowances. Workers had for years had commuted from Dubai where they enjoyed lower rents.