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You read that title right. In a PR stunt of the decade, a real estate company called Aston Plaza Crypto is riding the Blockchain mania in Dubai and has partnered with BitPay to sell property for Bitcoin in Dubai’s Science Park, a district 20 minutes away by car from downtown Dubai.
It looks like 2017 is shaping up to be the year of crypto: first, we had Paris Hilton advertising ICOs, and now we have apartments being sold for cryptocurrencies in Dubai. I think we can all agree that Bitcoin is finally hitting mainstream audiences with all this news.
Currently under construction, the 250 mln sterling pound project is set to be home to two towers and a mall. The 40-floor towers will include luxury studio apartments as well as one and two bedroom open plan apartments. As of this writing, the cheapest studio is going for 28.15 BTC (approximately $127,500), while the largest two bedroom apartments are selling for around 75 BTC.
Aston Plaza is a joint venture between the Isle of Man based Knox group and Baroness Michelle Mone, a British member of the House of Lords. In an interview with CNBC news, the Baroness said that Bitcoin is “the currency of the future.”
“I think because everything is logged and registered, everything’s transparent, that I wouldn’t be getting involved in it — especially from the House of Lords element, I’m a Baroness — so I wouldn’t be getting involved in it if it was a kind of ‘dodgy’ industry.”
By mimicking a real-life ICO, the joint venture has offered up to a 20 percent discount on these under-construction properties to early birds paying in Bitcoin. Of the 1,133 apartments, 480 have already been sold in fiat, while the remainder are up for grabs for Bitcoin enthusiasts.
Across the globe, the business behind real estate has always been traditional and boring, but this is all about to change as more and more countries are looking into testing a way to buy and sell land and house deeds more securely and efficiently on the Blockchain.
Aston Plaza is not the first to take advantage of the Blockchain’s hype factor for real estate. Take Omar Kassim for example: In 2011, he founded JadoPado, a UAE-based e-commerce platform that was recently acquired by the Dubai billionaire Mohammad Al Abbar as part of an effort to launch a competitor to Amazon in the Middle East.
Today, Omar is working on an open source real estate asset management business platform called Esanjo.
And Omar is not the only one. In fact, there have been rumors that Smart Dubai, the initiative created by Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashed, is working on a way to transfer property ownership directly over the Blockchain.
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As the 16th edition of Cityscape draws closer, here’s why now is a good time to buy
The 16th edition of Cityscape Global brings changes that could stir greater interest in the annual real estate expo. The most notable is the decision to allow developers to sell on-site. In what is a first for Cityscape, which will be held this year on September 11-13 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, developers of UAE projects will be allowed to sign sales deals during the show, which opens a new window of opportunity for both sellers and visitors. Furthermore, with residential prices now near the bottom of the current cycle, there are a lot of great deals now available in the market. Here are some reasons why it’s a good time to buy in Dubai.
1. New REIT choices
There are a number of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that have entered the market this year. Consequently, a lot of new activity is happening in the REIT market, with several new products being launched or planned in Dubai and Abu Dhabi this year, according to Craig Plumb, head of research at JLL Middle East and North Africa. “The major attraction of REITs is that they allow small retail investors to participate in the real estate sector without the need to buy real estate assets directly, which is time-consuming, lumpy and relatively expensive,” says Plumb.
JLL expects more REITs to be launched over the next few years focusing on sector-specific vehicles to attract investors looking for exposure to a particular asset class such as hospitality, logistics or education. “Dubai currently is the best market in the region for institutional investors, but it is limited by a lack of good-quality investment products on secure long-term leases,” says Plumb. “If more products of this type were offered at the right price, there would be strong interest from investors.”
2. Affordable housing
The availability of affordable housing options in the market attracts both investors and end users. Plumb says the shift towards the middle-income or affordable sector over the past few years is a positive development. “An increasing number of developers are launching projects in line with JLL’s definition of affordable, i.e. Dh780,000 for two-bedroom units,” says Plumb. “And the availability of more affordable housing in the market increases the attraction and competitiveness of the city.”
A major issue now facing the market is ensuring that such housing units remain affordable by limiting purchases by investors. “The challenge to Dubai’s position as a competitive global city is confirmed by a recent study from Rent Café, which shows that renters in Dubai currently spend an average of 39 per cent of their salaries on rents, making it the ninth most expensive of the 30 global cities covered in their report.”
3. Off-plan deals
The past two quarters have seen off-plan surpassing secondary market sales by 30 per cent, which shows the amount of investor confidence in Dubai. “We have seen payment plans extended to post completion so buyers can pay up to 30 per cent after the handover of the keys, which enables them to get rental income to help cover the costs,” says Laura Adams, managing director of Carlton Real Estate. “Others have put 70 per cent as final completion payment, which is in line with the amount banks are lending.”
4. High returns
Dubai’s property market offers attractive rental returns when compared with other places in the world. Richard Paul, head of residential valuations at Cluttons, says that even in a softening market, investors can achieve gross yields of between 6 per cent and 10 per cent. Additionally, financing for such investments are available at interest rates of around 4 per cent, which is competitive compared with interest rates offered in other markets around the world.
He explains that the Dubai property market is still a relatively high-risk profile option, but allows investors to achieve higher returns. “The risk profile of any investment defines what kind of yield returns it can offer,” says Paul. “The real estate market in Dubai is a young market; investment options for expats manifested only in 2003, so understanding a market which has fast-changing cycles and influences can be challenging, but there lies the upside of the potential for greater return. When comparing Dubai with more mature markets with more predicable cycles, the potential returns are often lower.”
Paul believes that Dubai can certainly offer excellent returns for investors, but only if investors fully understand the market.
“They must carry out necessary due diligence and look to seek out impartial professional advice,” he says. “The present market is ideal for longer-term buyers with an investment outlook of five or more years, who are looking to purchase a property at the bottom of a pricing cycle. However, they need to be committed to the region.
“I would discourage speculative buyers who think they might make a quick profit by exiting in 12-24 months. I don’t see a quick turn in prices in the short term, neither do I want speculative buyers upsetting market stability.”
5. Community choices
Buyers in Dubai now have a wider range of property options. In recent years, several new projects have been launched in emerging as well as more established communities, and the government has also recently announced significant spends on the city’s infrastructure.
Paul points to communities that are well developed and have good levels of infrastructure, roads and proximity to other facilities, including hospitals and schools. “Look for properties that have established and built-up surrounding areas,” he says. “Locations that are fairly speculative will tend to have a lot of vacant space neighbouring them. As such, they can be affected by more supply surrounding them and unforeseen development changes, which could ultimately result in prices softening.”
6. Expo 2020 and Vision 2021
“We hope that the Expo and Vision 2021 will bring the spotlight back on Dubai,” says Paul. “In turn, hopefully we will see firms from around the globe consider expansion and relocation plans into the region. The hope is that this brings growth in commerce and employment opportunities and thus a flux in the population, which in turn will lead to an increase in demand for residential property and stability in pricing.”
7. Upbeat trends
As the market tightens this summer, developers are offering attractive deals to win sales, says Sandrine Loureiro, operations manager of Rocky Real Estate. “Payment plans offering 20-80 or 25-75 schemes have become stretched to instalments over four and five years post handover,” says Loureiro. “This is very attractive to some investors. Investors are now looking at quality versus price and location, as well as long-term returns.
“Master communities that are offering lifestyle and quality at a price such as Damac Hills, Nshama, Ellington and Azizi Riviera have received a lot of interest for their value-for-money products. Affordable products, which were not available before, have been launched by companies such as Danube, Azizi and Damac [wherein] clients can purchase a studio from Dh400,000 and a villa from Dh1 million. Owning property is a tangible, solid, long-term investment. Whether the markets go up or down, the asset is always there and offers a regular income, a holiday home or a safe haven.”
Make the most of your Cityscape visit
Tips to help achieve your objectives at the show.
* Cityscape is the heartbeat of the real estate market not only in Dubai but also in the region. Like every event, preparation is essential. Following the announcements, checking the exhibitors and planning the visits, as well as registering for conferences and networking events, are of utmost importance.
* As the exhibition is big, it is better to visit the show, not in one day and squeeze everything in, but the entire three days with a proper plan according to your area of interest.
* This year we expect the buyers to show good interest, as there will be new launches. Buyers should have a shortlist of projects within their requirements and budgets. This will allow them to focus on their target properties for a better result.
* The event is also a place to see many real estate professionals. Meetings are intense and require attention. Marketing materials and logistics should not be left to the very last minute.
* The top reason to buy property in Dubai is the trust in the Dubai brand — it is a safe place with regards to political and economic stability. The city offers property ownership, great yields for investors, has a dynamic character and is safe to live in. The city always has new and exciting projects announced one after another. And being a business and leisure hub, it attracts people all around the world, which keeps the demand high.
Source: Ozhan Kalkan, country manager of REIDIN
Here are a few reasons for investors to consider committing to the Dubai real estate sector:
Expo 2020 is coming to Dubai
Dubai is hosting the next World Expo in October 2020. The Expo will attract approximately 25 million visitors from 180 nations. The announcement of the Expo in Dubai has boosted the off-plan property sector. Investors who are buying property near the Expo will receive a high return on investment. The Expo’s duration is six months and millions of visitors will need to rent property. The rental demand will be high, enabling landlords the flexibility to increase rents.
Dubai seeks to become happiest city in the world
Dubai created the Ministry of Happiness in 2016. The primary duty of this ministry is to develop programmes and policies to improve the happiness levels of Dubai’s residents.
High return on investment
Dubai’s real estate market is maturing as the city’s population is increasing each year. Investors aware of the growing demographic are wisely purchasing property to supply the boost in rent demand.
Dubai’s tourism industry is booming
Dubai’s economy incorporates tourism, trade, business services and other industries. The construction of new hotels and real estate projects is a direct result of Dubai’s growing tourism industry.
The Museum of the Future
The Museum of the Future allows visitors to experience the future through cutting-edge simulations and interactive exhibits. The museum will include scientific conferences and offer advanced courses on new scientific achievements and trends. The museum will focus on solutions to the top three challenges emerging from climate change: water supply, food security and self-sufficient cities.
Low crime rate
The sense of safety is a major advantage of buying property in Dubai. Minor crimes are also unlikely. Do not worry if you accidently leave your wallet visible in your car. It is highly unlikely to be stolen.
Superior transportation routes
Dubai is continuously advancing its transportation infrastructure. The US-based Hyperloop One is creating an expedited transportation route between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Hyperloop One prepares to launch the world’s first operational Hyperloop system, allowing passengers to travel between the emirates in pods at 1,200 km per hour. The project’s goal is to provide transportation from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes. Hyperloop One estimates that approximately 4,000 vehicles commute daily from Abu Dhabi to Dubai.
No annual property taxes
Investing in Dubai’s real estate market is tax-free. Purchasing a commercial or residential property will not include taxes. Once the property is purchased, owners will not be obliged to pay additional taxes in the future.
Dubai’s population is growing
Property project launches in Dubai are estimated to increase as its population grows each year. The Dubai Statistics Centre announced that Dubai’s population in January 2016 was 2.4 million and will reach 5.2 million by 2030.
Gourmet restaurants, entertainment
Dubai offers unique experiences with desert safaris, luxurious spas, beaches, yacht communities, skydiving and water parks. The city is also known for its wide selection of gourmet restaurants from each region.
Article by Khaleej Times:
Samana Developers has broken ground on its first real estate project – Samana Greens, with an offer of 7 per cent discount for buyers who make payments through cryptocurrency. The project will come up at Arjan.
The Dh75 million Samana Greens will deliver 131 residential units comprising studio to 2-bedroom apartments. Construction is scheduled to start this month and will be completed in April 2020.
Property buyers will be able to make transactions using the developer’s digital currency channel.
Imran Farooq, CEO of Samana Group of Companies, said: “Samana Greens will be based on green building concepts. Customers can choose their preferred mode of payments – be it cash, cheque, credit card, home finance, bank transfer of cryptocurrency.”
The project will be fully financed by Samana Developers. Once construction starts, Samana Developers will announce the pricing and payment plan.
In September, the Aston Plaza and Residences development in Dubai Science Park began offering off-plan studios and one- and two-bedroom units starting from around 30, 50 and 70 bitcoin, respectively.
MAG Lifestyle Development said it is ready to accept payments in Islamic cryptocurrencies, including OneGramCoin. The developer also announced in December 2017 a 5 per cent discount for “digital” buyers in any of its eight current real estate projects.
Omniyat Properties made headlines last year when it sold the most expensive apartment in Dubai to a GCC buyer for Dh102 million at the One Palm by Omniyat. It beat the previous sales record for a Dubai apartment of Dh60 million.
The developer now has two more penthouses, a tad smaller, at the project for sale now. “We have 3 penthouses in total, of which the largest has been sold. Two more smaller penthouses costing Dh88 million and Dh91 million are available. We have seen several expressions of interest. But these things take time and we are working on it. Interest is coming in from the GCC, New York, London, Moscow, Australia and Italy. Celebrities and athletes are likely to come on board as well,” said Mohammed Hmeid, general manager, Omniyat Properties.
The new owner has commissioned London-based design studio Elicyon to design the interior of the penthouse, which is due for handover towards the end of the year.
“It’s in the design process. The triplex penthouse has 20,000 sqft liveable area and a terrace on the top floor spanning 10,000 sqft,” said Charu Gandhi, founder and director of Elicyon.
Elicyon has now unveiled two new show apartments at the One Palm. “We are bringing the London aesthetic to Dubai while also paying homage to Arabesque designs. There is a reference to water throughout the design. The view was my brief,” added Gandhi.
The British firm has projects such as the One Hyde Park on its resume.
The Dorchester Collection will be managing the apartments at the One Palm which includes around 94 units and will be delivered by the end of this year.
“We have sold up to 70 per cent of the apartments. The average price per sqft at the One Palm is around Dh4,500. Demand has been good. We have a very specific target audience for this project. The smallest unit is around 8,000 sqft. In the beginning, there was more demand for smaller units,” observed Hmeid.
Omniyat has started handover of The Opus, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, in Business Bay. Fitout work has started on the hotel, which will be operated by ME by Melia. There will also be serviced apartments and office space.
“We are also working on Anwa [reached 23rd floor] in Dubai Maritime City, The Sterling in Downtown Dubai and are doing final touches on The Pad as well. This is going to be a big year for us,” Hmeid added.
Omniyat says its projects The Sterling and Langham Place are in the premium mid-market space.
However, the Omniyat executive said the developer currently had no plans for projects outside the UAE. “Our primary focus in the short term will be on Dubai,” added Hmeid.
In response to recent media reports, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) has confirmed that developers only need to deposit 20 per cent of the project’s value in escrow ahead of launching off-plan sales. They also need to verify ownership of the project and pay its value in full, in addition to receiving all approvals from the competent authorities, according to a statement issued on Thursday.
Sources had told Khaleej Times on Tuesday that a proposal was being mulled which would force developers to launch off-plan sales only once construction had reached the 50 per cent mark. This was to reduce the pace of off-plan launches in Dubai.
But in the latest statement, there is no mention of any plan to raise the 20 per cent limit to 50 per cent as a requirement for developers to launch sales.
Sultan Butti bin Mejren, director-general of the DLD, said: “There is a strong coordination among all relevant government institutions, including the DLD, as well as between developers and various parties in the market to establish confidence among investors and achieve the highest degree of transparency in Dubai’s real estate market.”
The Land Department’s statement said 150 new projects were registered in Dubai during 2017, at a combined value of Dh82 billion and that 90 projects were completed during the period.