Al Muneera and Al Zeina, two beachfront residential developments at Al Raha Beach which are owned and managed by Aldar Properties, will be fully ready for handover to owners and tenants by the end of the second quarter, said Mohammad Al Za'abi, the company's director of estates, during a media tour of the properties in Abu Dhabi yesterday.
The delivery continued in phases last year with the first tenants taking possession in December, Al Za'abi said.
Al Muneera, which extends over the island and mainland connected via two bridges and one pedestrian bridge, comprises 1,445 units. That is 1,286 apartments, 148 town-houses and 11 villas. The community has also got Al Noor Tower, a 12-storey office building.
Al Zeina, which sits on half a kilometre of beach front, consists of 1,221 units. That is 952 apartments, 26 penthouses, 119 townhouses and 124 attached and semi-attached villas. Al Za'abi said that almost 80 per cent of the units of both communities are now sold, adding that only 40 per cent of those sold at Al Zeina and 28 per cent of those sold at Al Muneera are occupied.
"The more activity going on, the more excitement there is for the owners to start moving in," he said. The developer is currently running a Rent to Own (RTO) programme only for Al Zeina properties, with plans to also make it available for Al Muneera sometime in the near future, said Mehdi Zaouali, sales manager at Aldar Properties.
Rent starts at Dh60,000 for the one-bedroom properties, and Dh110,000 for two bedrooms. In case of conversion to an RTO, Aldar said it would give back to its tenants 100 per cent of the first year's rent and 90 per cent of the second year as credit. It is transformed into equity that would constitute a down payment.
"That's an average equity of almost 15 per cent of the purchase price," Zaouali said.
"So when the bank asks for a down payment, we will give a paper saying that you have paid us the down payment."
Zaouali said that the developer decided to offer market rates for the RTO programme in order to make it competitive enough for the tenants to buy. About 150 units between one and two bedrooms have been put up for the RTO programme at Al Zeina.
The one-bedroom apartments' selling price starts at Dh800,000, Zaouali said.
Compared to the prices of 2007 - the year these projects were first launched - the selling prices are substantially lower today.
At their peak, the rates were Dh16,000 per square metre, Zaouali said. Today, Aldar is selling its units at Dh10,400 per square metre.
Zaouali said that these rates were constantly under revision depending on how the market was doing.
"There's a big appetite," he said, when asked about sales today. "Once the price is right, there's a big appetite."
Aldar also announced its service charge rate which starts at Dh103 per square metre for apartments, townhouses, sky villas, podium villas and penthouses at Al Zeina. The rate starts at Dh54 per square metre for beach villas.
At Al Muneera, service charges start from Dh72 per square metre and from Dh117 per square metre for apartments.
A one-bedroom apartment is anywhere between 69 and 80 square metres, Zaouali said.
"We're very transparent with the residents [of the communities]. If there is money left from the service charges, we return it back at the end of the year as credit to the tenants," Al Za'abi said.
"We have been using this policy for the past five years.
"So let's say we take Dh10,000 as service charge, but our actual expenses were Dh9,500, then we credit back Dh500 to the tenant."
A number of facilities are scheduled to open soon around the communities such as cafes, restaurants and convenience stores, along with retail units.
The communities have a number of swimming pools and gyms, childcare facilities, male and female prayer rooms as well as reading rooms.
Aldar Properties said that the units of its Al Bateen Park development will be handed over in August.
"It's pretty much all sold out," Al Za'abi said. Al Bateen development comprises 284 apartments and 76 villas and townhouses, Zaouali said. "There are only eight [unsold] villas," he said.
Al Ward, the last phase of Al Raha Gardens, the residential community in Khalifa City A, is also expected to be ready in two months, Al Za'abi said. Al Ward comprises 28 villas. The developer announced the units for sale in March last year