From the vantage point of the Montgomerie Golf Club's terrace there is a magnificent view down over the Dubai Marina and New Dubai. Even in the year 2000 this was an empty patch of desert with a recently completed 1.8km long artificial marina.
But by 2005 more than one hundred high-rise towers started to emerge in this compact area facing the famous Jumeirah Beach and across the Sheikh Zayed Road at the Jumeirah Lake Towers. A similar picture might have been drawn for many Dubai mega projects, from the Palm Jumeirah to the Dubai Festival City site or the Dubai International Financial Centre.
Everywhere the sound of pile hammers echoed against concrete and floors rose skywards at a dizzying speed. Some three floors per week appeared at the Burj Dubai, set to rise to around 170 storeys and become the tallest building in the world.
However, in 2005, the Dubai Property column on AME Info correctly judged that the boom was not over yet. Sceptics were a lot thinner on the ground by this point of the boom. Rising prices and flipping properties had made quite a few people rich, while the sceptics found that their rental costs were now surging, leaving them poorer both in investment terms and in their monthly outgoings.
At this time Dubai share prices were also heading to giddy heights, and AME Info suggested that a share crash would be a good thing for property prices because more cash would flow into real estate. The Chairman of Damac Properties dismissed this idea as completely absurd, but it proved correct nevertheless.
However, times were changing as the Dubai freehold revolution moved into 2006. As we noted, 'Delays on delivery are not new in Dubai, but waiting times are getting longer. The Meadows 3 and 4 came in two months late just over a year ago, now slippages of more than six months are the norm.'
But the local real estate market was changing and maturing even at this point in the boom. The move by investors away from speculating in off-plan sales was matched by a new interest in buying villas.
By October 2005 the Dubai real estate market showed another sign of maturity when HSBC announced that it would begin offering local mortgages. At this time, AME Info published an article that is among the best-read articles of all-time on the website.
It explained: 'The pioneer home buyers in Dubai three years ago faced a short-list of one company when arranging a mortgage; Amlak Finance was the only place to go. Since then Tamweel has been created as a local rival and several local UAE banks have entered the mortgage market, most recently the Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
'HSBC has been in the market for a while but was offering finance on a very limited selection of Nakheel properties. Now this giant of international banking has rolled back the frontier a stage further with its flexible mortgages.'
New finance is good for any market, especially from a trusted global household name like HSBC. But in 2005 the first cracks emerged in the until then breathlessly optimistic outlook for Dubai business with the stock market hitting a top in June, then crashing and recovering into November, and then heading down again.
One article summed up the year-end position for Dubai property: '2005 was a tale of two markets: re-sale of completed property continued strongly with prices either holding steady at higher levels, or advancing 10 per cent or more in the case of villas; but off-plan sales slowed considerably and the first negative premiums emerged on certain developments, such as The Golden Mile on The Palm Jumeirah.'
That was the first sign in three years that booms do not last forever!
See also:A Short History of Dubai Property: Part 5A Short History of Dubai Property: Part 3A Short History of Dubai Property: Part 2A Short History of Dubai Property: Part 1