Ashish Jagtiani is the name he was born with, though that is a bit of an urban legend. He goes by the name of Jaggu, a very popular name across the airwaves. Dry, dark and lucid would describe him aptly, where one can only hope that one is not on the receiving end of that unholy trio.
Old Dubai hands say that you are truly a Dubaite only when you lived through an entire property cycle. That cycle is defined as seeing a top in prices, then the bottom, then the top again. I’ve been here a little more than two years, so in all honesty, I haven’t seen a full cycle. But I feel I’ve been here long enough to say that I’m probably near the halfway mark of the current one.
Putting a timeline to it, I started looking for a rental last quarter of 2013, just before the winning bid of Expo 2020 was announced. Months before the actual announcement, the real estate market assumed it was in the bag, that the market would boom, that demand would skyrocket in the future, so let’s raise prices right now. And so they did, approximately
The market was like a cranky mistress, changing her mind at her whims and fancies, her demands ever increasing. If you wanted action, you paid the price. Or you stayed out of the way, high and dry. With nary a square foot to call your accommodation.
So after a couple of deals fell through, and having gotten tired of forlornly asking ‘But why…?’ and being met with a response of derisive laughter and the receding sound of footsteps walking away, echoing but the emptiness of my heart and the building lobby, I decided to bite the bullet.
The next apartment I liked, I said the three words that warm the cockles of any real estate agent’s heart. I said ‘I’ll take it.’ I put the down payment right down. Without exaggeration, I emptied my pockets of the few thousand Dirhams I was carrying and paid the deposit. Lest the two days that it would take the cheque to clear be enough for aforementioned real estate market / cranky mistress to find a better suitor.
As with most things I put my money into, I got into the top of the market. After a few months more of how ‘prices would continue shooting up’, ‘there is no downside’ and ‘get in now before its too late’, prices started coming down. No doubt, sellers and landlords were the last to see it, but coming down they were.
About this time, I came to realise that the monthly mortgage payment to buy a property costs about the same as renting it, given you could afford the down payment. I should have figured this earlier, but I’m slow like that. I thought of exploring the
Since the first time that heartfelt piece of advice was given to me, that prices will stay low only for maybe three months, almost eighteen months have passed. Every time I enquired, real estate was about to go up again. The concept of time is obviously very elastic when it comes to property.
Every time I look around and then back out, because it seems like the seller hasn’t got the memo about property prices falling, I get a look that’s implies I’m being a fool for passing up the opportunity.
Now the consensus opinion from what I read seems to be that property prices will be dull till well into next year.
Let me wait, in that case, let me be a little more foolish. The issue here is not to be witness to the whole property cycle, but to be smart enough to take action somewhere in the middle of it. As in, near its bottom. Is that now, is it a year away, or longer? Or will it be, as some in real estate like to say, in the next three months?
But now, another thought is troubling me. Instead of thinking about when is the right time to buy, maybe I should think if I am looking in the right place. That’s a whole different topic.
We will wait. Perhaps we will reap the fruits of patience, or we will rue a lost opportunity, time and foolishness will tell.