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Sharjah in the spotlight

The total value of real estate investments in Sharjah amounted to Dh12.1 billion in the first half of 2016, from a total of 1,860 sales transactions, according to Asteco’s Q3 2016 Northern Emirates Real Estate report, quoting figures from the Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department (SRERD).

The report states that average rents in Sharjah are still 38 per cent cheaper than in 2008, as additional supply keeps rates from increasing rapidly. The market is relatively stable with rents in low and mid-range properties seeing minimal changes in the third quarter, down by only 1 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

Apart from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah can now be considered a third option, farther down the road from the more popular real estate hotspots. Sharjah could also well be on par with its neighbours as the most desired destinations for property investment in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

The game changer for Sharjah’s property market, according to Faisal Durrani, head of research at Cluttons, was a new law introduced in 2014 that allowed expats in the UAE to acquire property in designated areas, starting with Tilal City.

“At the end of 2014, 1,800 mixed-use plots went on sale and while the majority of buyers have been Emirati, purchasers from Syria, Pakistan, Palestine and Kuwait also feature prominently,” says Durrani.

With the new law, Sharjah has essentially become an affordable entry point into the UAE property market. In a Cluttons survey earlier in 2016, Sharjah was in the fourth place behind Istanbul as the region’s most desired real estate investment destination. “I’d not be surprised if at this point it would be Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah as the most preferred,” says Durrani. “In these three cities, there is a diverse range of residential and commercial property options.”