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Virtue Properties in Dh175m projects

Virtue Properties, a Dubai-based boutique real estate developer, is developing a 67-apartment complex – City Apartments – while planning the next project at the Jumeirah Village Circle with a collective development value to the tune of Dh175 million, it’s top official said.

“We have already delivered our first residential complex that had been bought over by a GCC investor last year, even before we launched its sale campaign,” Youssef El Kurdi, Chief Executive Officer of Virtue Properties, told Gulf Property in an exclusive interview.

“Our new project, City Apartments, is a Dh75 million project that is undergoing construction even before the launch of our sale campaign. We are committed to deliver the project by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

City Apartments complex will host 67 one-bedroom apartments that come with covered car parking, swimming pool, health club and three retail units including an anchor store. The layout of the apartments offers optimum use of space for families to be able to store goods and still have ample space to move around and live.

“The architectural design of the project is so good that each one-bedroom apartments offer a guest toilet in addition to the big bathroom attached to the bedroom, a kitchen, a terrace or balcony,” Youssef says. “Besides, in the living room, you have enough space for dining and home entertainment, something that you do not see in a 850-square feet apartment.”

Youssef says, his company will roll out the next project in January 2016. “We are currently finalising a deal for the next project, again a G+4 residential complex to cater to small families of young couples,” he said.

The project is self-funded by the company Virtue Properties, ran by two siblings – Youssef El Kurdi and Ayman El Kurdi, Managing Director. The business of Virtue Properties originated in 2001 when the two brothers had started a small real estate brokerage business in Dubai long before the freehold property market took off.

“We have come a long way in the UAE’s real estate market. We started off with a small brokerage and then moved into constructing villas,” Ayman El Kurdi, the younger brother, says. “We started out small but steady. When the global financial crisis of 2008-09 hit the UAE’s property market, we ventured into facilities management, owners’ association and small construction activities.”

Along with others, the two brothers had learnt valuable lessons during that critical period. However, due to their careful and sustainable business practice, they did not leverage and did not have any debt in the market. It helped them come out stronger from the crisis.

Youssef says, his company remains debt-less even now. “We do not have any debts in the market as we believe in the business basics – making sure we deliver what we promise and do not ‘bite more than we could chew’ – that helped us all along,” he said. “We do not have a single case of cheque bouncing incidents – that makes the company financially sound and speaks of our prudent management.”

Construction of the City Apartments is going on in full swing, even before its commercial launch.

“We started construction of the project even before selling a single unit or collecting a single dirham from buyers, simply because we believe in delivering promises with our own corporate strength and not external funding,” Ayman says. “We have a sustainable business model that has helped us to navigate out of the previous crisis and we are managing our business well even in the current slowdown.”

He says, the company is involved in every minute detail of the building materials and construction activities. “Although the contractor is doing a great job, however, are responsible for offering the best amenities to our customers. We are developing the project as if we would stay, looking at the best comfort and convenience for our customers,” he stressed. “That’s why we are getting involved in the selection of tiles, bathroom fittings and all interiors – that maximised customer experience.”

Virtue Properties, managed by a team of 15 officials, has stacked up building materials and bathroom fittings at the office for the team to carefully select the best and the most suitable for the project. This is in sharp contrast to many project developers where the developer is seen to leave everything to the contractor – who tries to save money by offering cheaper amenities.

Both El Kurdi brothers believe in ethical business practice and they say – they work for their customers who need to feel comfortable in living in these homes. With a comfortable price starting at Dh855 per square feet, a 800 square feet one-bedroom apartment could cost a buyer somewhat around Dh680,000 plus the government fees of 4 per cent of the transaction value, which in this case could go up to nearly Dh27,000.

In order to attract property buyers, the company is also offering a 60:40 payment plan whereby the buyer pays 60 per cent of the price till delivery and 40 per cent upon handover when they move in. “This is a very comfortable payment plan and we believe, it will work for the customers,” he says.

“Besides, the apartments would fetch attractive rental returns. Even if the rent is Dh50,000 – the lowest for a one-bedroom apartment – that’s equivalent to 7.5 per cent rental yield.

“However, location-wise Jumeirah Village Circle is ideal for couples working in anywhere in Dubai as it’s now the centre of the city of Dubai – if one considers the city limits from Deira all the way to Dubai South,” Youssef says. “With the new shopping malls coming up and the new road access to and from the Jumeirah Village Circle is an ideal centre of new Dubai with easy access to all the major business centres and communities.”

Jumeirah Village Circle is located ten minutes’ drive time away from Dubai South, the site of the Expo 2020, Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai Marina, Tecom, Jumeirah Lake Towers and just 15 minutes away from Burj Khalifa.

“That’s why we are focussing on bringing more supply to the market within the Jumeirah Village Circle community – which is growing with lots of developers building projects,” Youssef says. “With mostly low-lying buildings, this will be in sharp contrast to communities such as Dubai Marina and will have less traffic and more room to move around – for walking and jogging.”

The company believes in slow but steady development while remaining customer-focussed and financially sound – to make it a sustainable business.