After reading some of the above corrospondences - there are more issues raised than answered.
1. Arabian Ranches is not a bad place, although it is not on the outskirts of Dubai! It is on the outskirts of the currently developed area, it will stall take you between 45 and 60 min to reach Al Ain from there.
2. Quality of houses in the UAE depends on the contractor and the developer, to wit there are currently only two or three Developers who are allowed to offer "private ownership" - 99 year lease options - Emaar and Nakheel being the two larger
3. N.....l was responsible for the development of the houses that could not be occupied. I saw them for myslef! It was scary! But having said that it was not due to the poor construction or finish - this was excellent before the problems started! the main problem was due to a sub-contractor taking a short-cut on the pilling and bracing of the foundations - not in the construction its self
4. All houses/ villas/ appartments/ offices show cracks after the first year, this is a well known fact - these are settlement cracks; and the developers will send all residents a notification prior to the one year annerversary of the property, after which they come around and patch the cracks
5. I can't comment on poor workmanship or cheap materials. It does happen in every country, short-cuts to save money. I must however add the following: in the UAE if a construction be it a house, appartment, scaffold etc... fails... and anyone is injured... starting at the top with the engineer who signed off on it, down to the site forman who was directly responsibile for the work - are all thrown in jail until blame and responsibility can be apportioned!
6. If you are buying in a development you cannot nominate the contractor - these are pre-built structures. The only choice you have is the floor plan and finishing. You are normally allowed to make MINOR alteration works to the property once it has been handed over to you. This is only with the written permission of the property administrator, and is normally subject to a planning and approval process. You may not make major changes to the outside facade or even the colour of the building!
7. Loans and Mortages. You can shop around there are plenty of finance companies and banks who are prepared to underwrite a property. But as one respondant points out, some of them are not cheap. In most instances they will want between 20 and 30% cash deposit. Some institutions will only finance the a percentage of the release (or original) price.... Example:
Say a property is released by the developer for 1,000,000 AED. It is bought by a speculator who sells it to party number two for 1,200,000. Party number two sells it on to you for 1,300,000. The bank will want say 20% deposit (260,000), the balance with intrest is payable over 14 years (not 20 or 25 like in other countries). Alternativly the bank will only finance 70% of the original release price (1,000,000 * 70% =700,000) again over 14 years, leaving you to find the other 600,000 AED!
8. "Private ownership" for expats is only allowed (at this stage) within recognised developments and is strictly controlled, as an expat you cannot own a villa in the middle of Jumierah!
9. While Private ownership is not legally recognised by Federal Law it is up to each Emirate to interprete and institute thier own "local" issues - hence the 99-year loop hole. Many of the other Emirates are now amking use of this loop-hole to bring in extra capital and investment. Adding property to the investment portfolio of a country has got a stabilising influence! The advantage of this is that the Federal Governements standpoint on land ownership by expats is not moved! the rules are simply bent.
10. As to the stability of the property market, my personal opinion is that the local (Dubai) government will never allow this to fail, to much off shore investment is tied up in land deals, stable economy and a "happy" work force. Dubai runs on banking and tourism, a sudden turn-arround in the property market
would be a disasterous move - especially with all the high profile "private ownership" projects i.e. Palms 1 through 3!
11. As far as I know off shore companies, individuals etc are all elligible to take part in the "private ownership" scheme...
12. If there is anything in the property market that could damage it, it is uncontrolled speculation. Yes, there are people out there who can afford to buy 40 homes valued at over 1 miilion a piece - all at once! And no, they will never live in any of them. They want to sell them at 1,200,000 AED each and make a tidy profit! This unfortunalty drives up the price for the mere mortals who don't have that kind of cash lying around! The Federal bank has instituted "controls" to limit speculative buying of properties
(does this mean that the Federal Government secretly condones 99 year land purchases and wants to protect them??
The controls at present mean that a person can only buy 6 free hold properties every 6 months (could be 4 - stand open to correction), but this hardly stops it, and bearly limits it!
There I am DONE!