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Dubai: Hundreds of residents fight to avoid losing their life savings in real estate battle – News


Falconcity of Wonders – Oriental Residence project plan

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2024, 5:13 p.m.

After living in a rented apartment for 40 years, MK* dreamed of buying a property for his family. After much research and deliberation, the expat (who was born and raised in the UAE) finally chose a property in Falconcity of Wonders – Eastern Residence valued at Dh4 million. But after investing Dh1.6 million in the property, he is now unsure if he will get his dream home back or get his money back.

MK is not alone. Hundreds of other people in Dubai, who invested in the same project, are currently living in fear of losing their homes and life savings after the plots on which their houses were built were auctioned following a legal dispute between Falcon Properties and Dubailand (LLC).

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More than 20 investors approached Khaleej Times in desperation, seeking to have their voices heard and receive justice. “I have no answers for my family and children, who keep asking me when we will move to our new home,” says one distraught MP. “We had no idea what was happening or when the property slipped through our fingers; we just kept paying.”

So what exactly went wrong?

More than 20 investors approached Khaleej Times.  KT Photo: Shihab

More than 20 investors approached Khaleej Times. KT Photo: Shihab

the perfect plot

The Falconcity of Wonders project, launched in 2005 in Dubailand, was a unique mixed-use scheme that integrated commercial, residential and entertainment facilities. He promised to bring “wonders from around the world” to Dubai, including the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Although delayed, the Western Residence was completed and now has an established residential area.

In 2021, as the UAE and the world recovered from the Covid era, there was a growing demand for spacious living rooms. The villas became highly sought after properties. Responding to this demand, Falconcity launched the sale of the Oriental Residence with renewed vigor.

From first-time buyers to seasoned investors, everyone was sold on the project, unaware of a long-running dispute between Falconcity and Dubailand over outstanding dues.

According to Dubai court documents seen by Khaleej Times, Falconcity was ordered to pay Dubailand Dh1.3 billion in October 2020. Failure to do so would result in the developer’s property, specifically the project in the Wadi Al Safa area 2, was officially confiscated. in January 2021.

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) then warned that the property would be sold at auction if the debt was not paid within 15 days. In July 2023, Falconcity was notified by email that the sale of its property would proceed due to non-payment of debt.

After several attempts to sell the land, the court finally ruled in favor of awarding the auction to Dubailand LLC (the bidder) in October 2023.

Unsuspecting buyers

Despite the ongoing court dispute between the two parties, Falconcity’s sales team proceeded to sell over 400 villas to aspiring homeowners. Buyers say large billboards were placed along major highways and models of the project were also a highlight at major property shows.

Project announcement in E311.

Project announcement in E311.

These buyers are now desperately searching for answers. Angry and disappointed, Abu Ahmad, 52, said: “I was skeptical about off-plan properties, but my real estate agent assured me that Falconcity is a renowned property developer. I sold a house in Dubai and a property in my country of origin., to raise funds to buy a 5-bedroom villa in Falconcity. The agreement was to pay 50 percent upfront and obtain the title of the land and the other 50 percent upon delivery of the villa .

The Indian said: “I paid the agreed amount and signed the purchase and sale agreement. When it came time to register the property title in DLD, there was a blockage. We had no idea what was happening behind the glossy brochures and massive advertisements .The main developer was not aware of what was happening? Who will help us get our house now?

MK confirmed the same. “At the beginning of 2022, the land was not being registered due to an ongoing legal process. The broker and sales managers assured us that there was nothing to worry about as they were fixing the problems. They said that in the worst case scenario cases, our money would be protected.

“In February 2023, the show villa was ready and we could see our dreams materialize. I saw that the structure of my villa was also ready. But, on August 28, we saw a huge advertisement announcing the auction of the land we had purchased. “My heart sank.”

DK, 49, who has lived in the UAE for more than 20 years, also invested all his savings in Falconcity. “I paid 50 percent to the promoter. However, my dreams turned into a nightmare when the sales team casually informed us that the project had been cancelled, without any definitive solution or commitment from the promoter to refund my money.”

NK, who is not a resident of the UAE, booked a unit as his retirement home. To finance this, he sold a 3-bedroom villa in Villa Nova (from Dubai Properties). “My Dh1.8 million investment is stuck in Falconcity and I have also lost my Villa Nova property.”

‘Feeling cheated’

Another buyer, Bibi, 38, said: “I invested my money in good faith, only to discover that the property had been auctioned without any prior notice or consideration of my rights as the rightful owner. I decided to visit the sales office to search. answers to my questions.

“When signing the sales contract, it was agreed that if I paid 50 percent of the total price, the land would come into my possession. Since I already paid the amount, would the land come into my possession? The answer was No.”

The Pakistani then asked: “If they would refund me the principal amount and the appreciated value of the land, since I had paid the initial 50 percent. I was informed that, according to the developer, I would only receive back the principal amount. with the broker’s commission deduced.

“My next question was: when will I receive the refund? I was told to sign the cancellation form, ensuring payment within 30 days. I quickly signed the cancellation form, giving up any claim to land ownership or appreciation of funds.

“Instead of the promised 30 days, after 120 days I received a transfer of Dh59,710, which is only five percent of the total amount I paid for the villa. Discouraged, I ran back to the Falconcity sales office, only “I feel cheated,” said Bibi, who has called the UAE her home for 20 years.

Show villa

Show villa

Who will answer?

When KT approached Eastern Residence, a sales executive claimed in a phone call that Falconcity had refunded the investors. However, when he encountered conflicting evidence, he advised KT to write a formal query.

He later sent a WhatsApp response: “All Falconcity transactions and dealings are subject to confidentiality clauses in its agreements with its clients. Falconcity is not authorized to provide any information. Please contact Falconcity head office… You may have better luck there.”

KT made repeated attempts to contact Falconcity of Wonders via email for comment, but did not receive any response.

In February this year, some of the investors visited Falconcity’s head office in the hope of resolving the issue. “Instead of showing concern, they called the police,” said Indian expat DK.

In addition to the hundreds of purchase and sale agreement holders, 18 of the investors are title deed holders who paid 100% of the money to the developers and got the Dubai Land Department (DLD) to register the property in their names.

A title deed legally recognizes an individual as the owner of the property and gives him or her legal rights to claim, own, lease, and sell the unit of property. Khaleej Times contacted DLD to ask how properties with title deeds already registered by them could be auctioned, as well as how Falconcity was allowed to proceed with sales of properties involved in a court dispute.

The authority responded by saying that it works according to court instructions and orders. In addition, he said that he does not comment on cases that are handled by judicial authorities.

Lawsuit filed

Several of the investors have now gone to court seeking justice. More than 50 of these cases have been presented to the Dubai Holding Judicial Committee (Lagna). Those with knowledge of the matter have been informed that a final verdict on the matter is expected on March 18.

MK, who is trying to come to terms with his losses, claims he had “no choice” but to file a lawsuit. “I had to take out a loan of Dh65,000 with a credit card to make this possible.”

One land title holder, who has resided in the UAE for more than 40 years, said: “Our only hope now is in the courts and the judicial system. I am sure we will not be robbed of our rights there.”

Indian expat DG, 43, said: “I put everything I had at that time to buy the villa here. I have lost my trust and my money, and I am losing hope day by day. But I am fighting, holding on to a thread that maybe, one day, I’ll get my life savings back.

Abu Ahmad lamented: “When my daughter saw the video of our house, I saw her eyes shining with joy. Everyone was deciding on the rooms, the curtains, the paintings, and now, brick by brick, everything is collapsing.” .

DK asked the authorities for help. He said: “The situation is very bleak and very stressful for us. I urge the authorities to investigate this matter and support the investors to get their land or money back.”

CD, 42, is heartbroken, she said: “I am one of the buyers who invested Dh1.25 million in the hope of fulfilling my 10-year dream of living in my own house in Dubai. Buying this house is a bond emotional for us as we had planned a surprise for our parents on the delivery date.

“My dreams are shattered and on top of that I have to pay the lawyer Dh120,000 to fight my case for my own house. Dh120,000 is a lot of money for me, and I am struggling to fix it. For people like us who live a calculated life, It’s a huge amount of money.

“I don’t want my money back. I want the house of my dreams,” said the Indian expatriate.

*Initials of the name used to protect the identity of investors when requested


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