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Dubai property prices drop by 7.4 %

By Reuters - Dec 05,2018 - Last updated at Dec 05,2018

Dubai Marina is surrounded by high towers of hotels, banks and office buildings, United Arab Emirates, on December 11, 2017 (Reuters file photo)

DUBAI — Prices for Dubai's residential real estate went down 7.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, with the drop accelerating from a 5.8 per cent fall in the second quarter, the United Arab Emirates central bank said in a report on Tuesday.

Prices have been falling quarter-on-quarter almost continually since the start of 2017 because of a worsening supply/demand balance. The central bank quoted the REIDIN residential sales price index, which showed that prices fell 2.5 per cent from the previous quarter in July-September.

Residential real estate prices in neighbouring Abu Dhabi, the other big emirate and the capital of the UAE, dropped 6.1 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter after a 6.9 per cent slide in the second quarter.

One factor weakening the demand for real estate is subdued employment growth in the UAE, particularly among white-collar workers who might buy homes. Most jobs in the wealthy oil-exporting country are held by foreigners.

Total employment grew just 0.6 per cent from a year ago in the third quarter — the slowest rate in over four years — after 1.2 per cent growth in the second quarter, the central bank said. 

In the first nine months of 2018, employment grew at an average rate of 1.6 per cent against a 2.6 per cent increase in the same period of 2017.

The central bank figures showed employment in sectors, including construction and real estate continuing to expand, partly because of Dubai's preparations to host the Expo 2020 World's Fair.

But employment in some sectors that generate large numbers of white-collar jobs, such as services, fell in the third quarter, in some cases at their fastest rates for several years.

In an effort to bolster white-collar numbers, the UAE government last week announced a scheme to offer long-term visas to rich property investors, senior scientists and entrepreneurs.

But eligibility for the visas is tightly restricted and they do not offer a path to UAE citizenship, so analysts said the scheme might do little by itself to change employment or real estate market trends.

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