Confessions of a Real Estate Agent - Steven Leckie - April 2017

Posted on: 13th April 2017

On Wednesday 29 March 2017, the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, finally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, some nine months after the referendum, that will eventually see the UK permanently leave the European Union, regaining complete sovereignty over its own laws and affairs. 
 
The sentiments supporting Brexit – fear of loss of employment and identity due to a flood of immigration and annoyance over European meddling in UK affairs and way of life - have unleashed more disturbing aspects in the form of xenophobia and racism.
 
Immediately after the referendum results were announced in June 2016, my UK based clients put their immediate plans for investing in Dubai on hold – people just weren't prepared for the result and needed time to consider their options. 
 
The weaker pound was the main reason given along with uncertainty over UK property values and the subsequent buying opportunities at home. 
 
Thankfully, just two weeks later, the calls and emails restarted but this time from fresh clients with a different mindset and strategy. The message was simple: they didn't like what was happening to the UK economy, they were not expecting the pound to return to its former value anytime soon, and they were not comfortable with the xenophobic sentiment that had emerged during and after the vote.
 
As the UK turns down a potentially dark road of uncertainty, higher prices, and erosive inflation, Dubai as an investment option has suddenly become even more attractive.  There are a number of both 'push and pull' factors for this.
 
Dubai itself is now a strong positive 'pull' factor, building upon its success in securing the World Expo in 2020, the massive infrastructure projects which never seem to stop and the ever-improving openness to welcoming new businesses and people to the city.
 
Investors are hedging against currency fluctuations with former cash-paying clients now more interested in taking out UAE-based mortgages.  I am seeing non-resident Europeans and British people becoming more dispassionate and critical in assessing real estate options that will bring them the best returns in an uncertain world.
 
Dubai has moved on from the crazy days of last decade's property boom when an investor could make a million dirhams in a day by simply flipping his low-value deposit in an off-plan villa. Today, with tighter government regulations and more effective monitoring and enforcement, Dubai properties are offering buyers secure investments with high yields, a quality product and great value for money.
 
Investors with no previous knowledge of Dubai are contacting me and reporting they like what they see is happening in one of the fastest growing cities in the world
 
On the other side, negative 'push' factors within the UK now include the economic and social uncertainty of Brexit, the increasing difficulties of being a landlord in an over-regulated marketplace, the high prices of real estate with little value to be found, and high taxes with more of the same expected to follow.
 
So, Brexit has quickly become the new normal which from my perspective, is all good news for Dubai.