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Paul Christodoulou: Location is everything

As both the buyer and seller of some prime homes, Paul Christodoulou's been in the thick of Dubai property activity

Image Credit: Silvia Baron/ANM
"Palm villa living is fantastic. It feels like a permanent holiday," says Paul.
Property Weekly

I am a real estate professional with Luxhabitat (a high-end property brokerage firm) and hail from Britain. So does my wife Natalie Christodoulou who is the office manager for deNovo Corporate Advisors, based in Emirates Towers. Before moving to Dubai, we lived in Gidea Park, Essex in the UK. My family and I first visited Dubai in 2001. Over the next three years, we found ourselves returning up to four times a year. So in 2005 we decided to purchase what was meant to be a holiday home.

We looked at three developments in early 2005. They were: the Palm Jumeirah, Arabian Ranches and Jumeirah Islands. Despite not being able to visit the island, we decided that for a long-term investment and lifestyle reasons a beachfront property was our first choice. After all, location is everything! That's how we ended up buying our villa on Frond D of the Palm.

“I fell in love with the vibrance and architecture of Dubai on my first visit”
-Paul Christodoulou
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Palm villa living is fantastic. It feels like a permanent holiday. Over the past four years, I have seen the development turn into a real community and in the last two years we have seen some good retail stores and restaurants open on the island. I hope this continues as this is the only issue that lets the island down. At the moment, life here is good. We will return to the UK if that changes.

In the initial stage, I considered Dubai property simply as a good return on investment. But now what I like about it is also the diverse range of properties available and their varied locations.

We purchased two properties in the Tiara Residences development on Palm Jumeirah. We sold both of these in June 2008. In the same year, we bought a large villa in Jumeirah Golf Estates (JGE). Sadly due to the economic crisis, the villa developments within JGE have never been completed. To this day, I have not received the keys. This whole experience has been very unpleasant. But there seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel as the Investment Corporation of Dubai has committed funds to complete what should be a beautiful residential community. Our villa is now ready and we expect to receive the keys within the next 12 months.

I have recommended Dubai property to several friends. In fact one of our friends even joined us and purchased a villa on the Palm Jumeirah while another bought a villa in Al Barari.

As a cash buyer, I think the investment process here is simple enough but for those people who have a mortgage it seems a lot more complicated than in the UK.

Coming from the UK where your solicitor deals with the property transaction, it is very different in Dubai. I wouldn't say there was heaps of red-tape. It was definitely more time consuming than anything else but this was to be expected in what was, and still is, a relatively young real estate market.

It is very important that any potential buyer goes through a real estate company registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera). Be specific about what you are looking for, find a good agent and deal with that person alone.