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09 November, 2005

Vile villas

Nowhere is caveat emptor more pertinent than in Dubai's nascent property market. A 7Days feature, Shattered Dreams, reveals the misery of Jumeirah Islands residents. But is anyone particularly surprised?

"Residents have complained of problems with snagging, customer service, security, access roads, stagnating water, landscaping, spiralling maintenance and air conditioning costs and the removal of a golf course from the original plan without the consultation of residents.

"7DAYS has witnessed poor-quality finishing, and the use of cheap materials in a number of villas, and has documents referring to the same issues in dozens more."


And un-surprise surprise again - there's no real chance of getting your money back:

"A number of buyers have been served with repossession orders from Nakheel after they have initially rejected their villas due to poor quality.

"Should Nakheel go ahead with the repossession, the buyer will lose half of the value of their house."


In a more developed country, contracts would provide proper protection for both buyers and sellers, and there would be recourse to legal redress. Mandatory property surveys would be part of the process, and the authorities would intervene in matters of public health and safety. But in terms of property, Dubai isn't a developed country, and anyone buying a house here should be fully prepared to forfeit every dirham they invest.

Labels:

48 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like Milton Keynes

09 November, 2005 11:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To be honest, is anyone really surprised? These developments are thrown up in next to no time, to meet ridiculous deadlines imposed by developers when the construction market in Dubai is already overheating. The fact that there is no real consumer protection only adds to the woes of the unfortunate people who have taken the plunge into unknown waters, probably on amateur or downright misleading advice. How many people have bought from overseas with the promise of making quick returns only to have their fingers well and truly burnt? The Government should act before it's too late and provide house buyers the protection they are afforded in the countires that Dubai and the UAE aspire to emulate. How many innocent people will suffer the same fate when the perpetrators are allowed to continue to sell decidedly inferior goods. And this from the developer of the Palm projects which apparently cause no harm to the environment. Have you been to any of the beaches in Dubai recently - what a tragedy - a natural resource destroyed for one reason only - GREED!

09 November, 2005 11:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the kind of stuff I like to see on your blog. I know you've not taken it upon yourself to be a super dogooder, but this information needs to see the light of day somewhere, because it's being swept under the rug by everyone else. Keep up the good work.

09 November, 2005 11:42  
Blogger Intellectual Primate said...

shame, such a shame mr. bin sulayem, but no surprise at all.

09 November, 2005 11:53  
Blogger moryarti said...

Solution is in 3 things: consumer protection, consumer protection and.. ummm... oh yeah... more consumer protection.

09 November, 2005 12:01  
Anonymous Anna said...

It was only a matter of time. A friend of mine works as purchase officer in an electro mechanical contracting company. She tells me all the time how they are told to purchase cheaper materials than the ones approved by consultants. Everyone is trying to cut costs and by buying cheaper materials a lot of money can be saved. The fun part is, the cheap parts pass the checks performed by various bodies.

The problem is deep rooted. Everyone wants to make a quick buck and make a run for it. Consumers, in this case, property buyers have most to lose because they have no protection and completely believe what is told to them by their agents.

In the long run it is Dubai's economy and environment that's going to take a hit. What's the point of the building property that may not even have a life of 20-30 years? Property value will depreciate just as quickly as it went up. There is no sustainability in the current development methods that firms are undertaking.

09 November, 2005 12:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to anon @ 11.36
"the government should act before it's too late and provide house buyers the protection...."

good point ... do a little digging and find out what and who exactly is NAKHEEL.

IP > what in your opinion is the cause for so much greed? Having been here for quite some time, its amazing how the ethos here has changed in so short a span of time. It IS really now.. ALL ABOUT THE MONEY AND THE FASTER YOU MAKE IT THE BETTER THESE DAYS WITH NO REGARD TO 'HOW'...

I was fortunate despite the advice of some friends and so called experts not to invest my life's savings in any property because call it a gut feeling but it did'nt feel right. I'm not taking the ethical highground, but i really do feel for some people who were promised completed projects at a particular time and now have to wait an additional year.. YES AN ADDITIONAL YEAR just to move and that too is not sure because they have conflicting messages or no messages from the developers. so in effect they're staying one more year with exorbitant rents. believe me, i'm talking about just middle incomed people who thought they were buying a long term asset but insted are now disillusioned now and even desperate as they can't see any way out of it if they choose not to...

09 November, 2005 13:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone I know back home asks if I'm going to buy a place here.

You must be joking!

With federal law changing more often than a womans outfit when you're already running late and the atrocious workmanship, you've got to be crazy to think of it as a viable long term investment.

Throw 'em up - take the cash - run away and know that every legal aspect is in their favour.

09 November, 2005 13:26  
Blogger Garthicus said...

Hi,

The second part of Dubai Dreams was on BBC2 on Monday (I have it taped!) and this episode was about property buying. They basically followed the head of Nakheel around for a week while he gave them the usual PR Mumbo Jumbo on the Palm, the world etc. the programme was 30 mins long and for literally 20 mins they showed the lovely shiny side of things. The last 10 mins however was a different story. They highlighted the project 'The Jewel' (forgive me if I'm wrong, I’ve been to so many property exhibitions etc that the names all sound the same to me)

Anyhow, earlier in the show they interviewed the Architect and Main backer of the Jewel. It was going to be a kind of wonders of the world/landmarks theme in the middle of the desert, people could live inside the pyramids, inside the statue of liberty, and up the Eiffel tower etc. they were talking about properties being sold already and the plans not even being approved.

Later in the show they revealed that the backer of the project was in jail for fraud and the Jewel was down the swanny..

Also, there was a scene where Head of Nakheel was asked 'do you think the threat of terrorism is real in Dubai and what will happen to the market if it happens' well.. His reaction was priceless.. why?? He was speechless, literally for 30 or 40 seconds he said nothing (he was driving his car, the camera angle was from the passenger seat) then gave some PR blurb again.. Brilliant.

Anyhow, I'll try and convert the tape onto DVD then post it online or if anyone desperately wants it, I can snail mail it to them.

But to me, his reaction to the question says it all to me.. THEY DON'T KNOW AND DON'T WANT TO DISCUSS THE BUBBLE BURSTING....

09 November, 2005 13:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Have you been to any of the beaches in Dubai recently - what a tragedy - a natural resource destroyed for one reason only - GREED!'

I don't think it was even greed - just ignorance and the need for the latest headline grabbing 'bling' item.

Can you imagine Tony Blair sitting round the cabinet table - 'Hello chaps, got this great idea. We're going to build an artificial island off the coast and stick hotels and stuff on it' - He'd be laughed out of the country.

Here - One of the ruling family have this blinding idea and the reply was - 'fantastic idea, tell you what... let's have three!'

At least in the UK it sort of makes sense because land is at a premium. Here............

Madness - the damage to the environment is way beyond anyone’s comprehension. I'll be looking on with glee when Mother Nature takes back what is rightfully hers.

09 November, 2005 13:35  
Blogger monkey16667 said...

Funny how this wasnt highlighted earlier. Well atleast it is now.

I have seen some of the places in Meadows and there were patches where the finish was pretty shoddy.

But after seeing the pics of Jumeirah Islands (in 7 Days today), Meadows looks like a palace.

This is just atrocious.

Another shameless plug for:

www.sorrydubai.blogspot.com

- the site where your opinion doesnt matter.

09 November, 2005 13:44  
Anonymous The Rakster said...

...and yet 3 out of the 5 adverts on the side of your home page are advertising properties in the UAE.

I'm with anon at 13.11 - When property became available to buy I just wasn't interested - it didn't feel right and, as garthicus points out, all it would take is one bomb for the whole market to go into freefall.

09 November, 2005 13:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And of cource when these news reach the western media, it`s getting accused of blackpainting dubai.
No one here would ever step up and admit that dubai screwed up it's own reputation.

09 November, 2005 15:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A couple of years from now...maybe a year from now these places will become like ghettos, may just be a new housing colony for everyone.

09 November, 2005 15:26  
Blogger Intellectual Primate said...

I dont believe that Dubai is going down in flames because of Nakheel's Jumeirah Islands fisaco, and I do believe it is a fiasco. Investors have a much shorter memory than journalists (and perhaps bloggers). What happened is extremely natural and is well expected, its a boom town, booming to fast for legislation to catch with it, and provide protection for would-be investors. At the same time, the sales teams are making every new development as the best real estate venture and last haven! Enter the media. Media must play its role and keep everyone in check, since Dubai is riding on consumer faith. Also, what we would hope for is that it will also push legislators and regulators to push for higher quality control measures. We have seen how they have been instrumental in bringing up much less obvious issues to forefront i.e. EMARAT's oppressive tipping policy and labor rights. But I beg your pardon, this is not whats going to end Dubai, nor will it stop the growth. All this development at the moment is complementary at best, we should do well to halt all new major developments in 2006, a rumor that H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid is going to give orders for that effect.

Good work 7Days.

09 November, 2005 16:06  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So what good can come out of this speedy development ?
I wonder what's actually stopping developers to conduct good workmanship ???

09 November, 2005 17:02  
Blogger samuraisam said...

intelligence

09 November, 2005 18:08  
Blogger moryarti said...

greed

09 November, 2005 19:05  
Blogger CG said...

money

09 November, 2005 20:33  
Blogger samuraisam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

09 November, 2005 20:36  
Blogger samuraisam said...

all of the above

09 November, 2005 20:36  
Blogger nonpretender said...

I'm not surprised, like most things here it all looks glossy on the outside, wonderful brochures and heavenly sounding names, but dig a little deeper and you've been sold what would be classed as a structural nightmare back home.
Emirates' catch phrase "keep discovering" rings ever true. I suggest we all keep discovering the different ways this place is a shambles and discover a way out before it's too late.
The bubble is going to burst, and they sure as hell know it. Do you really think up to half these houses have been bought by ordinary residents? Half-baked bunch of sh*te.

09 November, 2005 20:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon at 1335, and imagine, after the laughter dies down, Blair comes back and says, "I was also thinking of having part of the island in the shape of this poem I've written."

09 November, 2005 21:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hah! its very common in this country, after they got hold of your money...hasta la vista baby!

09 November, 2005 22:10  
Anonymous glish said...

The most interesting aspect of this story is not the people buying places got their fingers burnt but that 7 DAYS has taken a brave step forward in critical journalism. This story will have upset a lot of people, and the waves may well have an impact on investment generally. There must be some very strong vested interests who are very unhappy about this story going to press ... maybe. Sometimes I wonder if the Sheikhs are sanctioning these reports in order to improve on shoddy standards and practices. The stories about construction workers not being paid resulted in very quick action too.

09 November, 2005 22:21  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Finally, someone (in this case a media body) steps forward and actually paints a true picture about the property market here. As they say reality bites. It is so unfortunate that there is this rush to cash in on ordinary, average folk just trying to make a go of it. This is creating such ill will amongst expats from so many different backgrounds that it can't be possible for Dubai to maintain it's superficial glowing reputation worldwide...good PR or not, pretty soon Dubai is going to have to come clean and put some substance into it's development lest it become like any other place that has experienced a gold rush....a ghost town eventually. I hope you all have been boning up on your pearl diving skills - those days won't be far off if you keep going at this rate.

09 November, 2005 22:44  
Blogger SID said...

So how do you reckon they are going to salvage this situation? It is a bit like the dead coral to me.

09 November, 2005 23:23  
Blogger Emirati said...

what a shame.

an attempt should be made to sue by the offended.

10 November, 2005 01:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

An "attempt" to sue... mmm... yes, a very telling word, that. I'm sure they'll "attempt" away.

On the other hand, as we've seen with the question of unpaid workers' wages, the government tends to move to action when things get in the way of making a profit.

10 November, 2005 05:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed by the naiveté of the buyers of these properties. How are they not aware of the lack of infrastructure and consumer protection? In spite of all of the other aspects of life here that do not jibe with much of anything in a more established country, did they think that somehow this would be the one thing that would? I'm a little annoyed with them for being such idiots but wish them well in their endevour to bring things to right. What I really want to know about SD - and I'm surprised you haven't covered it - is the story of one of the petrol stations stealing tips from its employees. I say we boycott.

10 November, 2005 05:21  
Blogger secretdubai said...

What I really want to know about SD - and I'm surprised you haven't covered it - is the story of one of the petrol stations stealing tips from its employees. I say we boycott.

Oh believe me I'm bloody furious - and have already posted about it in UAE community blog.

I am currently trying to do my own investigation (still waiting for a response from senior executives at Emarat - I will have to give them a couple of weeks) and if they don't respond, after repeated attempts, Hell shall breaketh loose.

10 November, 2005 06:22  
Blogger Riddle Of The Sand said...

Reading this I have certainly changed my mind of buying property in Dubai.
Untill the laws are not set straight, it really is not worth buying something which will be taken back after 99 years (so what if I dont live that long enough).
Sad to say, but seems that the land laws here in India are much better! Sigh!

10 November, 2005 08:24  
Blogger CG said...

Emirati???? ARe you completely mad now?
Have you ever tried to sue anything/body here which has government backing?
First you need to pay a lawyer a fat sum of stinking money (which is hard when Nakheel has all of it) then you need to obtain permission from the Diwan (which is basically like having your dirty laundry aired in public)...then a few years later ...........Oh god, just forget it.
Dont bother ......

10 November, 2005 08:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looks like I constitute the minority here who actually bought a property in the Springs way back in 2003 before the real buying rush started ... and boy am I thankful for that foresightedness. Just the difference between the construction of that earlier phase of villas (where the material used is fairly good and the construction is of better quality) compared to the ones built later is striking. And I should know this since I am an architect and have been working here for the last 11 years. Old suspicions die hard and so I used to visit the site quite regularly when our villa was being built. I do have to admit that the contracting companies that were handed down the contracts at that time were reputed & experienced ones than the ones I've seen recently building the later phases of the Springs or for that matter some of the other property developments.

Regretably, I have to absolutely agree with almost everything that has been posted here. In the mad rush to come out with yet another better and unique development, the developers have thrown ethics completely out of the window... a real shame for the construction industry here.

10 November, 2005 08:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon @8.54 nov 10

you my friend are one of the few lucky ones. I've heard that the initial constructions marina towers, over the creek etc were of a pretty good quality. but of late the work is characterised by shoddy fittings, awful flooring and panelling and plumbing heating problems.

rakster , yes i didnt go GAGA over the 'freehold hype'.. i was extremely apprehensive because nothing was clear as regards the basic issues of 'ownership', 'residency', passing onto heirs , etc..

to the best of my knowledge NOTHING is still clear.


now the peoople who have invested are satisfying themselves with the idea that 'THE FREEHOLD LAW WILL BE PASSED SOON '. sometimes hope is the only option I guess

10 November, 2005 11:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do the expats have any rights in this country.Ok we do not have any rights in this country because its not ours, but what about the citizens here. Everything seems ok for everyone but has anyone truly found out what right he or she has.

Freedom of speech ... yes, as long as you speak to yourself.

Rights to citizenship(for expats only) ... Yeah right, dream on.

Discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth...what??.. where!!!

Laws against exploitation...no one seems to be complaining!!

Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour...no,no,no they came here willingly.Here is the contract they signed..

Equal justice... ever hear of biased equal justice :)..

Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief....in effect until you get pregnant. Then either you quit or give birth and be back for work in 30 days....oops one more thing.. 30 days is all of your annual leave... Have a nice vacation.

These are just basic rights people in almost all developed and developing nations take for granted and it dosent matter if you are a citizen or not.Unless you know your rights and are able to act on it there is no point in saying you live in a free country, even if the government garuntee nothing like this will ever happen.

10 November, 2005 13:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: Sublime's post.

I hate to use the pun but Nakheel are just doing the same as every other localy based organisation does when the shit hits the fan, it's head in the sand time. If they don't acknowledge the probem then the problem doesn't exist.

Look at the reaction from Etisalat when the internet goes down, from DEWA when there is a city wide powercut. It's never their fault. It's not just the UAE but there is a mind set that is devoid of accountability and responsibility. It's fine to take the plaudits when remarkably things go right but not the other way - a classic example of this was the Arabian Music Awards - Never has a bigger shower been seen - it made the region a laughing stock. I didn't hear about it until I read it on the New York Times website!

10 November, 2005 15:33  
Blogger kingfisher said...

The property thing here in Dubai is a shambles. The developers lie, the contractors lie, the agents lie, the banks win, the customers lose but ultimately Dubai will lose.

Mr David Beckham's home on Palm Jumeirah is being torn down and re-built due to quality concerns...

This site/blogg should be mandatory reading for anyone considering purchasing.

I haven't personally purchased, but have many friends who have and the situation is completely farcical. Not a single one of them is happy with quality or service. Nada. Zip. Not even one.

This is a borderline disaster in imho. Look at the building density at the marina, especially the Jumeirah Beach Residence. I have never seen anything like it anywhere on planet earth. Even the former USSR wasn't this bad. Even Mexico City isn't this bad! OK, so the marina is a bit cleaner...

This is a classic standoff between greed, sustainability, and ultimately moral responsibility.

"We did not inherit the earth from our forebears, we are borrowing it from our children".

Shame on the greedy #$%&ers who orchistrated this nonsense. Shame on all who support it.

12 November, 2005 15:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the property is of such 'Bad Quality' why do some people invest their hard earned money in them.....or is this investment pocket change to some millionaires out there?? Or is it that they do not consult the Buyers Guide to NOT owning property out here???

12 November, 2005 23:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who is is an idiot will buy a villa 3 times more expensive than the original market price. plus all materials used are so cheap that even the villa won't survive more than 15 years... after first year you see cracks....

14 November, 2005 07:13  
Blogger Desert Scorpion said...

I saw the BBC 2 Program Dubai Dreams as well

I thought it was just me that noticed the '20 min' delay when the Sheikh was answering the qn on terroisim

Absolutley priceless

Did not fill me with confidence at all

14 November, 2005 13:07  
Blogger Dominique Haijtema said...

Dear,
I am a dutch business journalist who is visiting Dubai next week for an interview and report. I would appreciate it if someone would be able to give me more information on the developments in Dubai. Kind regards
Dominique Haijtema, Management Team, The Netherlands

22 November, 2005 12:30  
Blogger shiraz said...

I am a buyer of a JI villa - all I can say is that these people who purpot to be Islamic, are nothing short of greedy - money is their only driving force. I run a business, I have over 4,000 clients worldwide - if I did not deliver on my promise to a customer I will not sleep at night - as the people I love are my witness, many nights have gone unslept to ensure I am delivering on my promise. This is the essence of human nature - to default on a contract with another human being is shameful, and answerable. If you purpot to be a good upstanding muslim Sulayem, you will answer to your Allah in time.

28 November, 2005 00:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog! Do you have the Dubai Dreams program that you can e-mail me? Thanks much! Please let me know.
Kind regards,
malindsay@gmail.com

10 December, 2005 21:15  
Blogger blind searunner said...

Ok - Why are people in Dubai? Because the weather is good, no tax , low crime etc

The property market here is a mess no doubt- but it is a new market and their is a very steep learning curve

I have no idea how it will turn out - but i have hope - because i have hope in Dubai their are so many other things that i like in dubai that offset the bad as in the property market. But i do not want to go back to the uk - Do you? And whilst i am here i refuse to promote cynicism

What if the quality of these properties improves and is delivered?

Whay if consumer protection is provided ?

What if the government act and sort it?

What if ....etc

There has to be at least one optimist?

Yes dubai does look on the surface a developed country, but it remains a developing country and you can't expect it to be and we are not in the UK!(thank god)

What i am trying to say is if you have bought into the dubai way of life then have faith?

Corruption, greed, environment issues, government rhetoric, terrorism, cost cutting etc

These things all exist in a developed world - Does anyone really think that they don't happen in UK?

oK albeit on a different scale or is it ? are they just better at smoothing these things over ?

The terrorism thing makes me laugh - How many bombs have their been in the uk in the last 10 years ? How many have their been here ? I personally don't feel safe going to london for one visit over living in dubai

Now i did buy property here and my decision was considered carefully, i don't regret it and it was based on quite simple priniples

1) Living here - i decided i was going to stay here for at least 5
years

2) Rent - If the rent stayed the same for the next 5 years (Yeah right!!) then the money paid out in rent would basically buy me a 2 bed appartment (well about 90%)

3) Capital value - If the value of the property was 25% of original it would still be a 25% gain - if it was worth nothing i have lost nothing!

Now that's the worst case scenario but hopefully it won't be that bad - we will see!

Have faith people when theirs a will theirs a way!!!!!!!!!

From: Blind searunner

23 February, 2006 12:46  
Blogger blind searunner said...

Ok - Why are people in Dubai? Because the weather is good, no tax , low crime etc

The property market here is a mess no doubt- but it is a new market and their is a very steep learning curve

I have no idea how it will turn out - but i have hope - because i have hope in Dubai their are so many other things that i like in dubai that offset the bad as in the property market. But i do not want to go back to the uk - Do you? And whilst i am here i refuse to promote cynicism

What if the quality of these properties improves and is delivered?

Whay if consumer protection is provided ?

What if the government act and sort it?

What if ....etc

There has to be at least one optimist?

Yes dubai does look on the surface a developed country, but it remains a developing country and you can't expect it to be and we are not in the UK!(thank god)

What i am trying to say is if you have bought into the dubai way of life then have faith?

Corruption, greed, environment issues, government rhetoric, terrorism, cost cutting etc

These things all exist in a developed world - Does anyone really think that they don't happen in UK?

oK albeit on a different scale or is it ? are they just better at smoothing these things over ?

The terrorism thing makes me laugh - How many bombs have their been in the uk in the last 10 years ? How many have their been here ? I personally don't feel safe going to london for one visit over living in dubai

Now i did buy property here and my decision was considered carefully, i don't regret it and it was based on quite simple priniples

1) Living here - i decided i was going to stay here for at least 5
years

2) Rent - If the rent stayed the same for the next 5 years (Yeah right!!) then the money paid out in rent would basically buy me a 2 bed appartment (well about 90%)

3) Capital value - If the value of the property was 25% of original it would still be a 25% gain - if it was worth nothing i have lost nothing!

Now that's the worst case scenario but hopefully it won't be that bad - we will see!

Have faith people when theirs a will theirs a way

From: Blind searunner

23 February, 2006 12:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm are you all just negative or is it a case of where there is smoke there must be fire. I was about to jump in with two feet and buy a villa, I'm now going to hold fire for a year. Is the situation similar in other emirates I'm thinking Ajman or Sharjah as an alternative?

24 July, 2006 22:52  
Anonymous Dubai Property said...

A new law has been issued by the government of Dubai to prevent malpractices and fraudulent activities in the real estate sector. Under Law No 8 on Guarantee Accounts (commonly known as trust or escrow accounts), people buying properties in Dubai off plan will make their payments into special accounts managed by banks, instead of directly into property developers.
From now on all developers launching new projects have to produce certificates showing that building work has reached certain pre-selected stages before trust account managers give them access to buyers' money.Government officials say money in these accounts will be released to developers only when certain stages of construction are completed, encouraging companies to keep building work on time and easing fears that they will gather payments and flee the country before a brick has been laid.

28 September, 2007 16:49  

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