The Island 05.10.07
Part of our search for a nice property to puchase we went, again, to Amwaj Island yesterday. (Google Eart 26°17'23.92"N, 50°40'3.68"E).
We visited a 4BR and a 3BR house within the Floating City, which we alreay visited a year ago when we were looking for a house to rent. At that time we did not like what we saw. We felt the quality was poor and prices were too high. A year ago the floating city was not floating, since there was no water in the canals yet. Now it is much better and the lifestyle is nice. But still the quality has not improved and prices have gone higher. The 4 bed rooms house, selling at BD255,000 (680,000 usd or 800,000 chf), is rather small (300m2), with tiny bedrooms, no pool, and a garden that is just a mix of sand and dead grass, with a lonely palm tree, and the garden is far from being flat, being rather dangerous for kids who may fall in the canal. These houses have servant quarters (SQ) that may fit the idea some landlords have about maids here, I mean slavery. A 1m by 1m square room. I guess the maid has to sleep in a sort of standing sleeping bag like astronauts do. Luky them.
Beside the Floating City we visited a rather nice 4BR house on Tala Island, which is the latest ready to live-in development on Amwaj Island. The house, selling at the same price, is much nicer. Bigger, of better quality, with a pool and a private beach. Tiny private beach. Real sq where our maid could sleep, laying down on a decent bed.
Let's talk about the Gulf inflation. These houses were sold off plan 130,000BD 2 or 3 years ago. This means an increase (profit for the initial owner) of close to 100% over that short period of time. Certainly real estate agents are telling us that we could make another 40% in 2 or 3 years, but the question that we, expat who could afford those, are asking ourselves is 'who is going to buy these houses in a few years from now ?'. In Bahrain, like in some otehr Gulf countries, we are lucky since we have the right to purchase properties. However we are restricted to certain areas, freehold places. Prices have gone mad in Dubai, in Bahrain, but in freehold areas the increase has been more significant. Bahraini or GCC citizen may not want to purchase these freehold properties from expat in the future as they are not restricted to specific areas. Other expats ? Yes, but with many real estate projects going on for the next 10 years, how many wealthy expats will Bahrain need to import to purchase these ? It all depends on the regional job market and the economy. Sustainable growth certainly, but with 750,000 inhabitants on the island currently, and only few expats who can afford buying property and who are thinking to stay long, where is the market heading to?
Certainly prices have gone up, the value is increasing, but how many of these houses are really being sold now ? It's nice to know that the value of the property is virtually increasing, but if it remains illiquid, what's the point?
On the other side we visited a very nice house in a place where foreigners are not allowed to buy properties. Certainly there are ways around, but how safe, how legal ? We need time to consider.
After visiting Amwaj the Porsche broke down. Could start the engine but car did not want to move...
Some of my friends have told me good things about this blog and the pictures but complained that I was mainly posting photographs of the kids and of landscapes and never of my wife. So here is she. That was in Saudi Arabia. I feel that the abaya fits her really well...
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