Ajman seeks to rebuild investor confidence by strengthening real estate laws

The emirate of Ajman is planning to introduce new real estate regulations which will give it greater authority to reassign stalled projects to companies that have the resources to complete them, the head of the emirate’s real estate regulatory authority said yesterday.

Ajman’s real estate market experienced a bust following the global financial crisis in 2008, and many of the projects launched before then remain undeveloped.

“We are upgrading the existing law because the market has been changing. You have to change,” said Yafea Eid Alfaraj, executive director of Ajman’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Arra).

“At the same time, the buildings which have been pending since the recession, we have to do something with them.”

Speaking to The National at an event to publicise the emirate’s inaugural real estate conference, which takes place on December 14, Mr Alfaraj said that the law was being introduced to generate “more trust in the market”. He declined to say when it will be introduced or provide further details.

The most high-profile example of Ajman’s unfinished projects is Emirates City. The Dh15 billion project was initially meant to contain 92 towers, but only a handful were ever delivered.

Mr Alfaraj admitted the emirate’s reputation had suffered, but said it has been rebuilt as rules have tightened and escrow accounts put in place. He said prices in the emirate are stable, and year-to-date transactions are up 39 per cent year-on-year at Dh1.5bn.

Ahmed Saffarini, the chief executive of architectural and engineering consultancy Adnan Saffarini, argued that the conference was a sign of the efforts being made to improve the environment for investors. His firm, which is a sponsor of the conference, is the master planner for both the 1,504-villa Ajman Uptown project and Emirates City.

“There were lots of problems with real estate in Ajman – the same as what happened in Dubai in the beginning,” he said.

“They (Arra) have made a lot of effort, they’ve succeeded in doing certain mediations and problem-solving for many people and now they want to make a forward push for the investors and to build more trust.”

He said progress is being made at Emirates City, with six towers currently close to handover stage.

Another sponsor, Alef Real Estate, recently appointed a main contractor to restart work on the Fortune Residency tower at Emirates City. The company specialises in distressed projects and bought Fortune Residency 12 months ago, although it took six months to obtain the title deed, according to director Adnan Arshad Butt.

He expects the project, which is 55 per cent complete, to be ready in “two years maximum”.

Mr Butt said that although there is “a lot of negativity” surrounding Emirates City, his company has invested because of the profit potential.

“Where can you get a flat for Dh250,000? Not everybody has Dh1 million to invest in Dubai.”

mfahy@thenational.ae

Follow The National’s Business section on Twitter