Al­dar bullish as gov­ern­ment poli­cies lift real es­tate mar­ket

The National - News - - BUSINESS - FAREED RAH­MAN

Al­dar Prop­er­ties, the big­gest listed de­vel­oper in Abu Dhabi is bullish in terms of the mar­ket out­look next year as a re­sult of new gov­ern­ment mea­sures that will boost the prop­erty sector, a top com­pany of­fi­cial said.

The in­tro­duc­tion of a free­hold law as well as pro­posed plans by the UAE Cen­tral Bank to ease rules re­gard­ing the cap on lend­ing to the sector will boost the in­vest­ment cli­mate for real es­tate, he ar­gued, as would the new per­sonal in­sol­vency law.

Al­though the lat­ter does not de­crim­i­nalise bounced cheques, it does mean in­vestors who can no longer af­ford to make pay­ments can seek a court-ap­proved pay­ment plan to re­struc­ture debts which will place any crim­i­nal cases against them on hold.

“Free­hold law is def­i­nitely boost­ing sen­ti­ment in the real es­tate sector ... and will help the con­fi­dence with our real es­tate cus­tomers who come to in­vest,” Maan Al Awlaqi, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of com­mer­cial at Al­dar Prop­er­ties told The Na­tional at a Cityscape event in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE Cen­tral Bank cur­rently al­lows banks to lend as much as 20 per cent of their to­tal de­posits to the prop­erty sector with the cap be­ing raised to a still un­de­cided level, Mubarak Rashid Al Man­souri, the reg­u­la­tor’s gov­er­nor re­cently said. Un­der pro­posed changes, lenders would be al­lowed to ex­ceed the 20 per cent cap, but they would in­cur a cap­i­tal charge.

“Ob­vi­ously, liq­uid­ity com­ing from banks, the more there is, the more it helps. Liq­uid­ity is key for any seg­ment of the econ­omy. It is an in­cred­i­ble pos­i­tive driver,” Mr Al Awlaqi said.

When asked whether Al­dar Prop­er­ties is go­ing to start new projects this year or in the com­ing months, he said” “we have all seg­ments de­signed, shel­f­ready as and when we think we should launch a project, we do so within a very quick turn­around”.

The com­pany is al­ready pro­vid­ing plenty of sup­ply to the mar­ket with new projects, he said. “We launched Dh5 bil­lion mega-projects this year with Ree­man, Lea. The fact that they are selling out shows that we are mea­sur­ing sup­ply prop­erly and pro­vid­ing sup­ply where the pent-up de­mand is,” Mr Al Awlaqi said.

Plot sales at Saadiyat Is­land, which the com­pany launched this year, are go­ing well with in­ter­est from Emi­ratis and other Arab in­vestors, he said.

“A lot of UAE na­tion­als, a lot of Arab ex­pats, are see­ing it as an in­vest­ment ve­hi­cle, where they buy a plot and build vil­las on them and ... rent them out,” he said, without spec­i­fy­ing the num­ber of plots soldr.

The project, named Saadiyat Re­serve, has 306 in­fra­struc­ture-en­abled land plots avail­able for sale to all na­tion­al­i­ties. The project’s launch fol­lows three ear­lier suc­cess­ful land plot sales, at Al­ree­man, Al­ree­man II and Lea, which gen­er­ated sales of Dh2.4bn for the com­pany.

Al­dar re­ported a 7 per cent rise in its third-quar­ter rev­enues to 1.6bn, with quar­terly off-plan de­vel­op­ment sales reach­ing Dh1.1bn. The com­pany is on track to achieve Dh4bn in off-plan sales and gen­er­ate Dh1.7bn in net op­er­at­ing in­come from its as­set man­age­ment busi­ness this year.

“We’ve done growth this year,” Mr Al Awlaqi said, adding “and we will keep grow­ing”.

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