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October 7th 2019Mortgage, Real Estate

Dubai may not see wave of mortgage defaults

Surge in property prices witnessed during 2012-14 was not driven by credit.

Dubai’s real estate sector has been going through challenging times over the last few years but mortgage defaults are unlikely to be as high as witnessed during the previous global financial crisis, a study said.

It is believed that the surge in property prices witnessed during 2012 and 2014 was not driven by credit. “Given that the boom in property prices in 2012-14 wasn’t driven by a run-up in credit, we doubt that there will be a wave of mortgage defaults,” Capital Economics said.

Banks had witnessed major mortgage defaults during the 2009-10 financial crisis due to a crash in property prices, resulting in retail investors going bankrupt.

In 2014, the Central Bank of the UAE had introduced regulations regarding mortgage loans which include caps on loan-to-value, debt burden ratio limits and a requirement for financial institutions to have proper processes and procedures in place to properly assess a borrower’s ability to repay the loan.

Quoting Dubai Land Department figures, the central bank’s 2018 annual report said investment in real estate with a value of deals of less than Dh10 million in Dubai stood at Dh45.6 billion, of which Dh38.5 billion or 84.4 per cent were paid cash and Dh7.1 billion or 15.6 per cent made through mortgage. Compared to 2017, cash purchases declined by 36.6 per cent from Dh60.7 billion, while mortgage purchases dropped by 17.6 per cent from Dh8.7 billion. The fall in the amount of all investment transactions was at 34.2 per cent in 2018.

UBS Global Wealth Management recently said that since the last peak in 2014, property prices in Dubai have fallen by almost 35 per cent. Prices are expected to find a bottom soon as the market is in fair value territory.

James Swanston, economist for the Mena at Capital Economics, said Expo 2020 will provide a fillip to the emirate’s economy, which will grow at 1-2 per cent in 2019-21, but below average of 3.5 per cent recorded since 2010.

The study highlighted some of the challenges that the emirate will face in the coming years will be subdued economic growth, debt of government-related entities (GREs) and property oversupply.

Dr Raed Safadi, chief economic advisor of Dubai Economy, last week forecast that Dubai economy will grow 2.1 per cent in 2019 but the growth will spike next year to 3.8 per cent but stabilise again at 2.8 per cent in 2021, hence boosting investor confidence further.

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