UAE banks seek talks over expat mortgage cap

Dubai Marina is one of the most popular areas for expats to live in the UAE.

Banking CEOs in the UAE are said to be keen to meet with central bank officials to discuss the regulator's plan to cap mortgages for expats.

Sources said heads of retail from members of the Emirates Banks Association, which includes lenders such as Emirates NBD and HSBC Holdings, will meet on Sunday, while the CEOs meeting with the regulator will follow, Bloomberg reported.

In a Central Bank circular issued on December 30, a 50 percent ceiling was placed on UAE expatriate mortgages, while a 70 percent limit was placed on mortgages for UAE citizens.

Banks will reportedly request that the UAE Central Bank raise mortgage limits for expats to 75 percent of the value of a first home and 85 percent for Emiratis.

Lenders will agree to central bank limits on mortgages for second homes, local media have reported.

On Thursday, it was reported that Dubai expats are scrambling to close property deals amid confusion over whether lenders will honour existing pre-approved mortgage deals.

Jean-Luc Desbois, managing director of mortgage brokerage Homematters, said around half of UAE lenders had so far adopted the 50 percent cap for new applications, while “a handful of banks are still business as usual”.

“At the moment everything is up in the air, it is confusing... We have had a number of banks who said they will honour all pre-approvals until they expire but some are looking at that and are making a decision,” Desbois said.

It is not clear if the 50 percent mortgage cap for foreigners applies to citizens of other Gulf Arab states, who have been keen buyers of Dubai property.

In the first half of 2012, Dubai saw 14,652 sales transactions worth AED30.8bn while 3,363 mortgage transactions were completed worth AED29.6bn.

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