Sharjah to allow expats to buy property for the first time

Taylor Scott International News

Foreigners are to be able to buy in Sharjah for the first time after the government passed a law enabling expats from anywhere in the world to invest in the real estate market. Leases of up to 100 years will be granted to overseas buyers provided they hold a United Arab Emirates residency visa, officials have confirmed One reason behind the decision is the huge demand for homes from people working in neighbouring Dubai. But there will be restrictions on locations with only property in new investment areas on the edge of the city centre being available. The first new development to offer the long leases will be Tilal City, a 25 million square feet development on Emirates Road close to the Al Dhaid Interchange which is being developed by Sharjah Asset Management and Eskan Real Estate Development. The project comprises 1,800 land plots. Officials said the new rules would create ‘new cluster cities’ outside central Sharjah which would reduce traffic and congestion in the main city centre. The move is also aimed at outlawing the number of disputes caused by foreigners attempting to get around the previous rules which prevented anyone other than GCC Arabs, and a few non-GCC Arabs and Asians with special permission, from owning real estate in the emirate. ‘There are over 220 nationalities here in Sharjah. But we think the biggest demand will come from Arab and Asian Muslims living here who want their families to live in a stable and safe environment,’ said Hamad Salem Al Mazrooa, director general of the Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department. ‘The only restriction is that they must have a residence visa at the time of purchase. If for some reason after the purchase their residence visa expires, they are free to hold the property, lease or sell it as they wish,’ he explained. Officials are keen to prevent developers selling hundreds of off-plan apartments to speculators who would then flip them on at a higher price, something that contributed to the recent boom and bust in house prices in Dubai. ‘We want to avoid off-plan speculative flipping, as in the past in the UAE before the crisis where developers were marketing the project and didn’t finish building, took the money and left the country,’ Salem explained. The Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department is to open a small registration office at the Tilal City site where foreign investors could start to register their properties. Faisal Durrani, international research and business development manager at Cluttons, described it as an historic milestone for Sharjah. ‘Traditionally, international investors have focused their attention on Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but the move will open up a new market, to investors residing in the UAE,’ he said. ‘The success of Tilal City is likely to determine whether a number of similar schemes are brought forward in Sharjah. However, based on the number of gated community feasibility studies that Cluttons has been commissioned to undertake, in close proximity to Sharjah International Airport, we expect to see similar developments launched… Continue reading →

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