Dubai is likely to offer the best conditions as a longer-term property investment destination while the northern emirates emerged as the least likely in a regional survey. "This is a clear signal to policy makers and administrators in the northern emirates that more needs to be done to improve the business and infrastructure set-ups in the region," said Tessa Morris, Marketing Director, DSL Exhibitions, which undertook the survey.
The results were revealed ahead of the R&R Local Property Show to be held from June 19 to 21 at the Sheikh Zayed Centre for Conferences & Exhibitions (Ajman University of Science and Technology, Ajman).
Besides, Dubai was also chosen as the investment destination offering the best legal framework to protect buyer rights – a clear indication that the emirate's longer stint in the market and pro-active engagement has clearly worked in its favour.
However, the industry expects northern emirates – especially Ajman – to catch up on the regulatory issues soon, the survey found.
Aftab Hemani of Cobalt Real Estate said: "Ajman is swiftly moving towards the establishment of escrow trust account for all off-plan sales, which will be a cornerstone of the region's success."
However, Abu Dhabi emerged as the region where investors from across the country expect the highest price appreciation happening in the near term, with almost half the respondents choosing it over both Dubai and northern emirates.
Khurram Burney of Estate 400 Real Estate said returns on investments in the northern emirates were as high as "30 to 40 per cent in about six months."
According to Jawad Chapal, Executive Director of Chapal World, price appreciation in the northern emirates was accelerating.
"The continued positive and enthusiastic response from property buyers and investors to our projects in Ajman predicts a healthy market growth. The launch of Ajman's own bank and the announcement of Ajman airport are definite growth indicators as well."
The DSL survey revealed a split of opinion between those investing in Abu Dhabi and Dubai on the one hand and in northern emirates on the other. Almost half of the respondents who bought property in northern emirates said they would choose to buy again in the region. Dubai garnered the least votes as a choice for a second real estate destination.
There is a marked split in opinions between investors from different regions, each choosing the region they have invested in as their overwhelming choice when it comes to living standards. This is a clear indication that people prefer to buy properties where they perceive the living conditions to be the best, especially investors coming from the northern emirates , since at present, the region cannot compare with either Dubai or Abu Dhabi in terms of amenities, business facilities and infrastructure. Mehmood Yoosuf of Minaret Properties said: "Return on investment is fast catching up with other emirates as Ajman is at the moment witnessing a real estate price boom."
Northern emirates, by far, garnered the most votes as the investment destination offering the best value for money, cutting across geographical lines.
Hemani said: "Land prices are under Dh100 per square feet on Emirates Road in Ajman, though they are rising fast. However, prices in northern emirates are far lower than in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. You can today get the same quality in Ajman for Dh450 per sqft as you would expect for Dh1,000 per sqft in Dubai or Abu Dhabi."
Salman Soofi of Brooks Real Estate also felt northern emirates have made property ownership in UAE more affordable. According to survey, Dubai will offer the best living standards in the country over the longer period.
"The freehold market of Dubai was only targeting a higher net worth group – more of investors than the actual end users. Northern emirates and especially Ajman is targeting end users living in Sharjah and Ajman. The price of the property is affordable for the medium income group as well."