Harbor Real Estate has, through the years, served as a significant and valuable resource for industry-related information, opinion and analyses by catering to all stakeholders, real estate professionals, individual researchers, students, and the media.
The comprehensive and in-depth experience of our founders and directors have made Harbor Real Estate a highly sought-after key source of industry knowledge and expertise, especially in the areas of property management, real estate investment, portfolio analysis, research, customer advocacy, marketing, and sales & leasing.
Having been branded a "survivor of the storm" by Gulf News, Harbor Real Estate is one of the few real estate companies which made it through and grew during the last global economic recession and subsequent UAE property market crash. Armed with the valuable lessons from the GFC, Harbor Real Estate continues to thrive and share valuable industry knowhow and corporate wisdom in keeping with the changing times.
Harbor Real Estate has always been in the middle of things, sharing the limelight with other prominent industry personalities and stakeholders when it comes to providing insights and analyses into the dynamic arena that is the real estate market.
In fact, Mohanad Alwadiya, our managing director, has been called “The Wolf of Real Estate,” “The Oracle of Dubai’s Real Estate Industry”, and “The Godfather of Property Management” on different occasions in various publications.
People have varying attitudes when it comes to buying rugs and carpets. For some, carpets and rugs serve as ornamental or aesthetic elements that enhance the look of their home; others see them as a neat way of covering up a slippery or otherwise ugly-looking floor; a few would view them as a style statement, an indicator of character or status.
Whatever your reasons may be, it is always useful to know that the floor covering you are bent on buying will serve the purpose for which it is intended… and hopefully for longer too.
For most buyers, quality modern machine-made rugs would do especially for those who are into contemporary or modern motifs and designs. There are those who prefer the old school, traditionally hand-woven type which is understandably more expensive; a few would even go as far as collect antique pieces they’d rather have framed on a wall than sitting on their floors. While others are willing to compromise and buy quality but cheaper knock-offs or reproductions of the carpets/rugs they really want.
When buying carpets, ensure you know which room you will use it for and the size of that space. Remember that unless there are serious acoustic concerns (noise), a small area of the floor must be exposed with the rug/carpet covering most of the area. More than one carpet may be employed to demarcate sections of the house.
Determine the level of traffic in the area where the rug will be used as well as the budget and the corresponding carpet size/s you need.
Performance criteria to be considered include abrasion resistance, crush resistance, resistance to stains, moth attacks, flammability, ability to self-extinguish and sunlight resistance. Material used includes silk, wool, cotton, nylon, polyester, olefin and other natural fibers.
Very expensive antique carpets include Persian, Turkish, Mugal, Millefleurs Kashmir, Antique Needlepoint, Antique Savonnerie, and many others.
A lot of people invest time and money into fulfilling their dream of having the ideal family home. And in planning the design, layout and features their home will have, safety and security are among the foremost considerations. After all, the main reason we need shelter is to get protection, not just from the elements but also from the possibility of a home invasion.
There is no dearth in the number of companies offering security and surveillance installation and maintenance services on a contractual basis. But if you are one of those DIY types who would wish to cut operational costs while keeping your place secure, then there are a couple of options available in the market for such preferences.
One can easily browse through the classifieds or do some online research to find options that are easy to install, really ‘smart’ and very reliable. They have features such as being ‘pet immune’, meaning the motion sensors won’t trigger the alarm if it detects the movement of an animal under a certain size. This feature is especially useful if you have a houseful of pets roaming around freely in your premises. Some security peripherals include contact sensors for doors and windows, panic buttons, motion detectors and remote fobs. Some even allow you to set up and control the system using a free app available on both iOS and Android devices. Mobile accessibility is one of the biggest selling points of DIY alarm systems. Similar to many do-it-yourself alarm systems, an appealing aspect of some systems is their customizability and options to upgrade. You can start with a kit and expand the system on an as-needed basis with the devices you want.
Some common complaints in some DIY home security systems are that they only allow one user account whereby you have to pay extra for accounts on additional mobile devices. This could be problematic for some families, such as when both husband and wife want to be able to access and control the system. Some security devices also require lead acid batteries that you will have to replace relatively often. So to get the best system, one has only to do a little research to find the option that will work for you.
When it comes to caring for homes, a lot of people, understandably, spend more time maintaining their home interiors than, say, the roof above their heads.
The roof of a house or building is one of the most taken for granted structures, and yet, just as it is essential for us to care for our houses and ensure that every room in our place is well-maintained, it must be pointed out that the roof should be given the same if not more attention.
It not just provides shade, cover or protection from the elements, but is an essential component in ensuring that a structure is energy efficient. Some experts say that by ignoring the need to maintain your roofing system, it will only last half of its service life. Also, companies will only provide warranty service if there is proof that you have actively maintained your roof.
Water spots that are visible on your ceiling are a sure sign that your roof needs checking. First of all, ensure that your roof is safe to be walked on as you will need o do so for a complete assessment and proper cleaning and/or fixing.
Areas of the roof you should be on the lookout for include around the skylights, any exhaust fan ducts or vents, at the edges and where there is a connection or overlapping roof levels. Clear the roof of any debris including leaves, plants and other objects. Check the flashings and roof cladding, drain gutters and clear drains.
Roof maintenance should be done at least twice a year, and should be done at the onset or beginning and at the end of the harsh weather season.
Although lighting serves the very practical function of providing ample light sources to provide comfort, and a sense of safety and security at home, one of the easiest ways to improve the atmosphere or create drama in any room is through illumination.
Instead of having to spend on expensive refurbishments, you can simply add or modify lighting elements to create the ambiance you desire in each of your home spaces:
Living room – this area has multiple functions including entertaining, TV watching, reading, playing games and for showcasing artwork or family mementos. Aside from general lighting, you can make use of recessed lighting or install a chandelier as a central decorative fixture, and use dimmers for evening time.
Kitchen/dining area – as the center of family activity, the kitchen is considered one of the busiest areas of the home where people not only cook, but eat and converse as well. A kitchen would normally require a central lighting fixture and task lights under or in front of the cabinets. Recessed downlights may be added for the sink or range area. Mount a decorative pendant light as your task light thirty inches above the kitchen/dining tabletop. If you have a separate dining table, a chandelier can be used as a focal point.
Bathroom – aside from the usual functional lights such as the shower light and vanity lights, indirect accent lighting / dimmers can soften the look and feel of your bath area. Use undercabinet lighting to make nocturnal visits to the toilet safe and easy.
Bedroom – this is a place where you relax at the end of each day, and for general ambient lighting, you can install chandeliers, fan lights, wall sconces, ceiling fixtures, etc. Recessed or close-to-the-ceiling fixtures will provide ample lighting for your closets while economizing on space. Portable lamps or swing-arm wall lamps may be used to provide ample light for your reading.
For the gainfully employed single set, there’s plenty of variety in the options available when it comes to finding accommodation suitable to one’s lifestyle. And while villa communities like Arabian Ranches, Emirates Living (The Lakes, The Springs, The Meadows and Emirates Hills), Jumeirah, Jumeirah Village, Jumeirah Islands, Mirdif, Green Community, Al Barsha and the like continue to have tremendous appeal to families, most singletons consider apartment-style living more appealing.
For those who enjoy being in the middle of everything, be it for partying or simply to partake of the culinary delights the city has to offer, areas like Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, JLT, The Greens and most places along Shaikh Zayed Road are the perfect choices. Dubai Marina and JLT add the incentive of being close to the beach, various hotels and leisure hotspots. These developments also either feature or are located close to a major city mall such as Ibn Battuta Mall, Mall of the Emirates and The Dubai Mall, plus the Dubai Marina Mall. Single people who prefer quiet surroundings, keep pets and enjoy tending to their own garden have and still do take up residences in villa communities as well. Those who reside in the Jumeirah area get to enjoy proximity to the beach as well as Wild Wadi and Madinat Jumeirah.
Not all single people can afford to live in upscale or higher-priced communities though; and for those who enjoy being in the middle of the hurly-burly of the old city life and want to immerse themselves in the Old Dubai may find it appealing and more financially feasible to settle for places like Deira and Bur Dubai which also feature major malls namely Deira City Centre, Reef Mall and Al Ghurair in Deira, and Burjuman in Bur Dubai. Those who would wish to stick somewhere close to Shaikh Zayed Road may want to consider looking for a place in well-located but reasonably-priced Al Khail Gate. Discovery Gardens and International City are also viable locations to consider if the budget is a major deciding factor.
As a buyer willing to part with his life savings to invest in a new home or a property to be rented out as part of your nest egg, you should also be willing to take time out to prepare a snagging list, or hire the services of a professional snagger or inspector to ensure your new property is built to a good standard before handover is complete.
Not to worry, your builder expects snagging to be done and, hopefully for your sake, it will work in your best interest. After all, the logic behind snagging is to give the builder a chance to mend and fix what work has been overlooked, and to ensure that the property meets building quality regulations.
If hiring a professional to do the snagging, you may reasonably expect him to come with a list of items to be looked into during inspection; but this shouldn’t sop you from coming up with your own checklist which you can cross-reference with his. In fact, some would advise you to conduct your own snagging as you, the buyer, have the most to lose if there are snags that don’t get identified early on. Also, getting snags fixed right away ensures that the builder or developer hands over the property to you without having to worry about getting called back with complaints later.
Some important items to include in your snagging checklist are the functionality of the heating, boiler, thermostat or radiator and air conditioning systems, doors, cupboards, drawers and windows (including knobs and locks), lighting and plumbing fixtures/fittings (include bathrooms), kitchen appliances, electric meter, gas meter, and extractor/exhaust fans. Ensure that items like the ceiling, walls and flooring are in pristine condition, and test them for noise quality as well (acoustics). Schedule the inspection on a mutually acceptable date (with your builder) once building work is finished. Do not allow yourself to get distracted during snagging, and go from room to room; and this includes minor areas like the pantry, attic, and laundry room.
Having a beautiful garden to walk through every day is most everyone’s dream as there is nothing like natural greenery to come home to at the end of each busy day. But the harsh summer months in the Middle East make tending to a garden a tiresome task as the heat and humidity characteristic of the season make staying outdoors almost unbearable. So why not take your garden indoors with you, especially if you live in an apartment unit that has no garden plot to go with?
For people without the proverbial green thumb, there are low maintenance plants like the Cast Iron Plant which prefers low light and grows even in the worst conditions; Dragon Tree and Lucky Bamboo which grow best in bright light and make fabulous corner and centerpieces; Snake Plant which needs to be watered sparingly and is highly tolerant of low light; Pothos (Epipremnum aureum and other members of the same family) which can make great hanging/trailing plants; and the Spider Plant which reproduce fast and are often grown in hanging baskets (great space saver).
Aside from the obvious aesthetic impact of having house plants, they also give the added benefit of the purifying air, especially for enclosed spaces. Common household air pollutants include formaldehyde which is present in wrinkle-free cloth products, various types of ink, lotions/shampoos and other toiletries, household cleaning agents, and in building materials (plywood, particle board, fiber board, timber paneling, etc.). Xylene is present in some solvent applications for the printing industry, pharmaceuticals, perfumes, etc. Carbon monoxide is produced where there is fire, including the kitchen and fire place (if any). Small amounts of benzene are present in rubbers, lubricants, dyes, detergents, drugs, pesticides, etc.
The Spider Plant is great at neutralizing formaldehyde, xylene and carbon monoxide. The Boston Fern removes benzene, formaldehyde and xylene. Plants with similar air purifying effects include the Areca Palm, Golden Pothos, Aloe Vera, Peace Lily and others.
Among the prominent buzzwords in home construction in the latter part of the last century are “home automation” and “smart home technology” as more electrical equipment were introduced to offer ease in the performance of traditional household tasks. However, home automation only became more popular in the 1990s, with the coining of the word “domotics” taking place – essentially referring to the application of computer technology and robotics to domestic appliances.
But even with the desirable security enhancements that came along with home automation, its application failed to reach the majority as the installation and maintenance costs remained high so that it was mainly the more affluent homeowners that could actually afford their use.
The advent of wireless technology, however, has helped push home automation back into the limelight and numerous companies are now available to plan and integrate the system of your choice into what you currently have without the need for any major renovation work.
In fact, new smart home systems help save homeowners money on utility bills and food bills too as they include features like programmable thermostats, power timers and monitors, Internet refrigerators, next generation microwave ovens, occupation detectors and motion sensors, solar-powered products, zone-based thermostats, etc.
Internet or smart refrigerator units can communicate with next generation microwaves by providing information on the current food inventory in the fridge and suggesting recipes that can be cooked via microwave, thereby saving you from unnecessary and time-consuming trips to the supermarket.
Programmable thermostats help you control temperature levels at home even while in transit or away via smartphones, tablets or any Internet-enabled device. Zone-based thermostats divide houses into zones so that empty rooms are not cooled or heated unnecessarily. Occupation detectors/motion sensors enable you to keep idle devices turned off even when you are not physically there. These include lights, air conditioners, the TV, small appliances and sound systems.
And the list goes on… only you need to make a choice.
Have you ever experienced waking up in the middle of your Friday afternoon nap to the banging coming from your next door neighbor, to the cries of a baby or the jackhammer used in road construction? Such is the life in some apartment buildings where being disturbed by all sorts of sounds emanating from elsewhere has become commonplace.
But one’s home is for relaxing, so how can noise control be accomplished?
There is a number of noise control solutions aimed at keeping residences virtually noise-proof such as window, door, wall, floor and ceiling products.
Magnetic acrylic windows double glazing improves noise reduction through the installation of a PVC sub-frame on the inner part of each window. Acoustic aluminium windows double glazing also reduces noise coming from outside and can be specially made for your house requirements. Another advantage of having these done is that they help in thermal control so you save on energy consumption.
Some door-related solutions include the use of acoustic aluminium doors that can reduce noise by up to 70%, and the use of acoustic doors and seals. They are easy to install and can also be customized to your specifications.
Wall applications can reduce noise transmission by 60% to 90% depending on the products used. An innovation called Barrierboard which reduces noise levels by as high as 75% is ideal for domestic, industrial and commercial use. It is rigid so no sagging takes place once they are installed, and they are relatively thinner compared to other products. They can also be used as a ceiling component. The use of damping products such as some noise-proofing compounds is also quite common.
Aside from the use of rugs and carpets to reduce the impact of overhead steps, soundproofing floor products involve the use of acoustic underlay which can be placed between concrete and a timber floor surface. Materials include compressed recycled rubber with LDPE foam underlay, flat area foam system, wet area impact foam for bathrooms and laundries, etc.
For ceilings, adding insulation through a secondary ceiling and the use of sound block barrier material can help.
If you find yourself looking around your house with a dissatisfied eye, and feel it’s time to redo the interiors, experts would ask: are you sure, and are you ready? Depending on the space involved, home renovation projects are more time-consuming than most people think, whether you’re focused on only one area like a bathroom or the kitchen, or the entire ground floor of your house.
Planning should be a full concentrated effort involving you, the occupant, and any contractors, inspectors, etc., who will be working at getting you to your desired objective. Do ask for referrals from people you know who have had some renovation work done in their own units, and be frank with the professionals you work with about what you want and what you can afford. In turn, you can rely on these people for their honest opinion on whether or not what you are aiming for is doable. Be stringent in identifying contractors and suppliers you may have to take on as it is with them that you’ll find the best use of your time, money and space using materials that would last for years to come.
Things to look out for in the process of planning and execution would be accurate measurements, ensuring the right tools are available/used, the design elements including paintwork, lighting, flooring, windows, fixtures and ceiling, as well as items that people easily miss out in the process like the plumbing and electrical systems which may need a look-see as well.
One thing you might forget in the course of a major home remodelling scheme is including the cost of a temporary move into your budget. But if you are still able to use part of your home for daily living, then make sure the renovation project area or construction zone is closed off especially to children by using painters’ tarps or polyethylene sheeting. This way, noise from the renovation work is filtered off, and dust won’t penetrate the living areas so easily.
Finally, don’t forget to get the necessary permits from the building owner (if you own a unit in a building), and official permission from relevant government authorities.
With all that technological innovations and progress in human knowledge, it may sound unthinkable for there to be property disputes arising from incorrect land measurements or wrongly placed construction work. And while freehold developments virtually free up buyers and sellers from the responsibility of pinpointing exactly where the owner’s land area begins and ends, older property may not be so issue-less.
Problematic land can lead to simple problems like uneasy relationships with affected neighbors, when, say, you are planning on putting up a thicker wall around your property or fitting in a new pipeline system, to something as complex as an actual lawsuit arising from the same. Mortgage providers and insurance companies also require precise property info during transactions.
One important thing you have to check is the title deed which should contain the legal description of your property including the exact measurements and boundaries. Using the title deed data as a basis, you can physically check the measurements, marking each corner with a stake. You can also check the official property survey done by a duly registered land surveyor which should have been handed over to you once the sale was done. Items like the distance between the house to the property line and from the street must be indicated. It should also take into consideration other markers such as monuments and other landmarks which are more or less fixed.
If you do not have any official survey document, you may choose to hire a professional land surveyor who can conduct the appropriate survey especially if your land has uneven topography and if it has complicated angles or has gone through extensions through the years. Periodic inspections and surveys are also advised for properties that are very old or have been subject to conflicting data.
As a prospective buyer, new owner or future seller, you are responsible for knowing the markers of your property, not only to ensure you are getting what you paid for but also to make things easier for your heirs and future property owners.
No matter how big or small you feel your home space is, there are ways and means to enhance the look of your place through simple ingenuous means – that is, by employing methods that add an element of interest to your ceiling, walls or floors.
But if you’re happy with everything except your flooring, then it’s time to go over flooring options taking into consideration your budget requirements, as well as the pros and cons:
• Carpet – one of the best time savers when it comes to flooring; use carpet to muffle noise In quiet areas like your bedroom; carpet tends to trap dirt and odor so it requires proper care and cleaning • Vinyl – all ‘easy’, that is, easy to install and clean and pay for because it is relatively inexpensive, but needs to be replaced from time to time because of wear and tear; moisture left underneath during application can lead to mold and mildew so it must be applied properly; best for use in kitchens and bathrooms • Hardwood – one of the most expensive options, well-maintained hardwood flooring can literally last a lifetime; engineered options wear well even with changes in moisture; requires expert application, and is best for most areas in the house except the bathroom/laundry room and other high-moisture areas • Linoleum – an eco-friendly option that is affordable, easy to maintain and install; may need periodic replacement due to wear and tear; best for busy areas where the possibility of spills are high like the kitchen and dining room • Rubber - another ‘green’ option (the non-synthetic variety) made from the rubber tree, though somewhat expensive; it is tough, durable, good for noise insulation/vibration reduction and resistant to cigarette burns/fire; watch out for abrasives like detergent, as well as grease stains
All the above options come in a variety of thickness and designs. Other flooring materials you might want to look into include tiles (ceramic and porcelain), laminate, bamboo, cork, concrete and natural stone.