Buying property in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, in 2014

I need to share with you that I am now a happy owner of a brand new apartment in Sharm el Sheikh! With its own ground floor garden…

 

Yes! We utilised our recent holiday with kids there, to also look at some newly developed property, and I almost did not believe it would happen, but we actually also concluded a sales and purchasing agreement with the same! Five days full of sun and fun for kids and us, but also (bingo!) a new home – fast and smooth. I am still pinching myself to feel it is indeed true!

But go grab a sandwich or a drink, perhaps, before reading further, because this is going to take

l  o  n  g  . . .

I did my research. As a former resident of Sharm el Sheikh I have a pretty good understanding of what is where and what to look for. By keeping a blog and a travel tips page, I constantly keep me updated on the developments. Yet after being away for a couple of last years, simply because our family economy would not allow travels there, even me I was surprised how much in the meanwhile Sharm has developed and how much more beautiful it has come over the recent years, especially the newer Nabq area. Though these now have been hard times for the whole Egypt and also for Sharm, you feel as if Sharm has (contrary to the expectations) kind of gained from that.

I now want to share with you the fruits of my almost 6 months long research and observation, and my total buying experience, so that those who might like the idea, could utilise this moment NOW where it is still the buyers’ market in Egypt, and come and get your equally good deal. Before the prices go up…

Because up they will go, in a limited space for development like Sharm is – surrounded from one side by sea, from the other by mountains, and natural reserves for the rest of directions. Not more than, say, 4 x 40 km, and as always the areas closest to the sea and beach end up soonest…

This much only, between the sea and the mountains…

(The above photo from Sharm Airport’s photo gallery at http://sharm-el-sheikh-airport.com/photos.htm.)

I am thinking of finishing up this review with a more or less complete list of all developments and my certainly totally subjective but still hopefully fair opinion of them, or where they differ from the rest, or whatever. But I will start here with the four that we viewed, three of which I had pre-selected based on research and knowledge, and one (the Golf Heights) was suggested by our agent and was also very good, we are thankful to him for this suggestion and opportunity to view it. ***

Residential areas of Sharm el Sheikh

In way of a short introduction to Sharm from South to North, then the origins of Sharm lie in its Southern part – the Old Market or the Souq, by Sharm el Maya Bay, where it all started from a beduin fishermen’s village. This is the most Egyptian part of the town, vivid with bulging street life. Mounds of fruits, live chicken in cages, carpet and sheesha salesmen… you get the picture.

Only one development that I know of, up and coming here, but I think now waiting for better times – El Kheima. [2018 March update: apartments being rented in el Kheima!]

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Next comes the high cliff of

El Hadaba (with the cape of) Ras Umm Sid

A large residential villa area, and clusters of 3* …  5* hotels by its best and deepest in Sharm snorkelling reefs. Compounds here are few and far between, like e.g. the recently completed Carlton Resort (known for locals as “Ritz” simply, from when Ritz Carlton was next to it) where only re-sales can be found, I think.

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Hadaba is a kind of relaxed area that is not famous for night life or goitheng out like Naama Bay, but that nevertheless offers pretty much the same in much less glitzy and less intense environment, and that together with easy access to world famous snorkelling reefs appeals to certain visitors, no doubt. A lot of residents like it here, because services are easily at hand and the environment is more quiet thus more suitable for family life or relaxed after-work hours.  Schools and nurseries are close or easy to get to, which decides it for kid families who own no car.

My favourite in Hadaba might be the Tamra Resort, which is right by the Reef Beach, with sweeping views. No one ever sells here…. 🙂 I think. But you can rent for holiday.

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Next, there is a large area between Hadaba and Naama Bay, where the almost Egyptian-populated Hay el Nour residential area is located, with Sharm’s largest Coptic cathedral and largest mosque within easy view of each other, also all main bus terminals, but also such popular rental compounds as Delta Sharm, Tower Country Club, Sunterra, Diar el Rabwa, Roman Theatre, Gold Sharm, etc, I will try to cover these in a separate post later.

Among my top-three picks in this area was Sunterra with its new sales, but if I had a sufficient amount of cash at hand (100% cash purchases only), I would perhaps still also look for re-sales of previously owned apartments in

Delta Sharm

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Delta Sharm is almost the mother of all residential compounds in Sharm, and still going strong, you can see it from the re-sale prices there – almost anything decent has the price level of the best new compounds! Yet you can also make finds there, especially in the category of Egyptian-owned re-sales. Choose your location well – they are limiting now who can use which pools. And you are competing with at least 2000(!) other owners and apartments in there…

The area between that part of Hadaba and the Old Market is perhaps the most pragmatic in all Sharm, in that many important and serious businesses are located here. You can buy home appliances, TVs etc from a shop by B.tech, carpets from the Oriental Weavers showroom, floor tiles from Cleopatra Ceramics, and there are more shops for easily affordable furniture and what else might be required to furnish a home, down by the Old Market in the cluster of shops and malls where the Metro supermarket is located.

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Next comes the ‘downtown’ for all Sharm…

Naama Bay

Some hate it, some love it, but it is still the light-in-night, that draws most visitors in Sharm in after-dinner hours. Down by the bay there are hotels only, but in the next circle immediately beyond and uphill, residential compounds are coming up like mushrooms after a rainy day. What counts here, almost only, is how close to the nucleus itself they are – is it a walkable distance, or then not. Because if you already have to take a taxi or a minibus, then you can take it easily from any part of Sharm.

From some compounds higher up you can also get a distant sea view over the roofs below, so it requires a bit of juggling between perhaps a better view but a longer walk down the hill, or a closer location but ordinary views, there is of course also the splendid mountain view complete with the sunset over them in the opposite side, and the lucky ones may get both – sunrise over sea and sunset over mountains, but for that you almost require an apartment with roof access, and I am happy to say the more and more developers are thinking of it and offering the roof together with the top floor apartment.

Our pick-list compound here was Riviera Sharm, that we viewed with Virgin Property (details follow in the end) who are actually based there and have good knowledge of what is available.

Riviera Sharm is one of the old and original compounds comparable to Delta Sharm, but is currently developing a Phase 2 with new buildings and new pools, so there are new sales available there with the nice new- sales payment conditions (=you get an interest-free payment plan over 3 years, if want). In the rest of Naama Bay there are not many new sale compounds presently on offer, where you can actually move in at short notice, but there are several where walls are going up already, or even units are available, waiting for the market to recover so they can begin or continue the sales. And there are some already established ones where re-sales can be found.

There is a very good new one with a mirror location to Riviera though – Sunny Lakes is by that end of Naama Bay that is closer to the airport. It has four phases where the original phases A and B are two-level only and look very-very nice, but you only find re-sales there. In phases C and D I am sorry to say the developer must have started thinking of money 😉 😉 and he added one more floor, so you now get a typical for Sharm 3-level apartment block tightly around a pool, with not so much space for greenery any more. But go have a look anyway –it is still one of the more beautiful new developments in an actively developing direction of Naama Bay, and even if transportation is required to get into Naama itself, then you are right by the main road so there is almost no waiting for a bus or taxi and the distance is short and cheap. Virgin Property will also gladly show you Sunny Lakes, if want. They all will! 🙂

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The next area of developments, close to the airport, is best known as

Sharks’ Bay

Such popular and high-level hotels like the Four Seasons, Savoy etc etc are located here. The worthwhile developments here are by the beach on a high cliff, guaranteeing a good snorkeling experience on own beach but also fabulous seaviews, like for example Sharks Bay Oasis. These are some of the most expensive developments in Sharm that are at the same time a bit remote for easy moving, so we did not view them.

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They are also farthest from any services or the supermarkets, although then again Egypt is a delivery paradise, where you can get anything to your door, by just dialling a number and placing your order. So, this area is for staying away from noise and buzz, and enjoying Sharm at its best – the sea, the quiet, the fabulous views. For recuperation of energy. A wealthy divers’ abode. Etc. 😉

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The area next in line also is less important for this story here, but nevertheless also pretty interesting for those not penny-pinched:

El Montazah

The area other side of the Sharks’ Bay and the Soho-Sharm Square, though still almost between the airport and the sea, so you do not need to drive long after landing.

It almost consists of villas only, so here you will be buying from a small-scale private owner, but the projects then also are more intimate, and you get fabulous sea views and usually the building’s own small pool by the ground floor terrace. The beach is right outside the property, or a maximum 200m to walk to… the total area is smaller than Domina Coral Bay. Ras Ghamila dive site is out there.

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A car is good to own here, and if you do not live here, then you can rent out to high-level hotel executives, who no doubt will appreciate being away from the more touristic compound areas, at least for the few off-duty hours.

Holiday rentals due to remoteness do not work so well here, so better buy and move in too, to enjoy (for example) you sunny life in retirement, in Sharm.

A compound that I know is here somewhere – El Mar Montazah (sometimes spelled simply Elmar). Simple by looks but you never know what might wait inside.

New developments available from 2016…early 2017 are Sharm Hills, good value per sqm if you can adjust to a location away from the beach AND away from the main road, and Sunny Beach, which will be in front of Sharm Hills and beachfront for its villa section, somewhere right next to Jaz Belvedere hotel.

In 2017 also look out for two smallish projects: Jewel of Montazah, and Montazah Paradise (see pic). Both small developments with a couple of dozen apartments around a garden with pool, in the villa area with beach right close there.

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After that finally comes

Nabq Bay

The northernmost area of Sharm, that ends with the untouched desert and beach areas of the Nabq Protectorate.

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It is an up-and-coming area where many of the large family-friendly hotels are located with direct access to the sea and wide sandy beaches. No cliffs, no steps to climb, or almost so. The number of new developments here is constantly increasing, and while it on the one hand in my opinion may it dilute the prices a bit, when the largest of these will be completed in not-so-distant future, especially for the rental market, then if you choose well, you can still find the deal of your life, which is what we did, or at least we think so. 🙂 Because more hotels in this area also means more employees, and while most of them are bussed twice a day to and from a hostel compound somewhere further inland, then the middle and high level personnel, sales staff etc, probably love to rent somewhere close to work.

More tourists also means that the entertainment, shopping etc opportunites here will only increase. Services and night life already have developed very fast in this area that now almost mirrors Naama Bay in everything it has to offer, while the beach promenade is even longer and (if possible) more romantic here, because you have those gorgeous views towards Tiran island that stands almost closest here. Over the wide golden sandy beach.

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As our agent put it: „Mistakes that perhaps were made in Naama Bay, have been avoided here.“ We certainly hope so! 😉  but what makes purchases here especially worthwhile, is the easy access to the wide and gorgeous Nabq beaches! Sharm will still build a lot in the area between the sea and the mountains, but all those later compounds, though they will have gorgeous sea views from their roofs (because the terrains rises towards the mountains) will be far away from the beach itself.

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While Balbaa Group http://www.balbaagroup.com/ who owns Laguna Vista Residence, also owns all the land from the residential compound down to the beach, so you get guaranteed access to your own beach, and you can actually even walk there, or take the twice a day shuttle.

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Laguna Vista Residence

The relatively small and intimate compound has only about 10-11 buildings each side of the central club and villa area (a total of approximately 250 apartments only) and offers lush greenery inside and (for ground floor apartments) your own 61 sqm garden! So you can step onto your own lawn barefoot in the morning and have all your meals al fresco in a garden setting…

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and then walk down to the gorgeous views from the beach, that beat anything I saw from any roofs that day or before.

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You can also freely use what the two hotels between you and the beach have to offer, including the bars, the dining options, kids playgrounds and clubs, the spa… you get the picture.

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Want some buzz – walk your guests into the grandiose foyer of Laguna Vista Beach on your way down to the sea and stun them with some 5* luxury 😉 or with a perfect cup of cappuccino on the hotel’s sea view and pool view terrace. Definitely adds to the holiday options. The extra appeal for me here was, that the owner is also actually the architect who has designed much of what you see here. Talent combined with passion – I appreciate!

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Laguna Vista Beach Resort

All that along with a very flexible payment scheme, where your payment ability and cash flow considerations will be well accounted for.

Also, in the long run you will probably pay attention either to the immediate rental income, or how else you will use the apartment, but also even more importantly I think, how its value will appreciate over the years, and it is in that latter category where I think Laguna Vista will be really strong.

It actually kind of ticks all boxes together: pool – tick, own garden – tick, beach – tick, views from there – tick, even own bit of souq on way to the beach – tick, and a sizable supermarket, bank offices a Hard Rock Cafe, even gyms and yoga classes, nurseries etc etc available right there in one of the downtown areas of Nabq. Please click to zoom in on any plans or photos.

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Rental appeal – again tick, because it is among the foremost preferred properties for middle and high managements in Nabq area. Because I’ve lived in apartments with gorgeous views before, I know that after a while you start taking the view for granted and even forget to enjoy it, to even notice it, really. So for me it quite suffices to be able to walk down to the beach and once in a while be punched in my face with what views open up from there, especially before the sunset.

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Though of course for those who, again, can afford even a bit more, the top floor apartments here are the only ones where the steps to your own enclosed roof area (complete with a pergola there) lead up from inside your own apartment. So it is indeed your private area there, with a sufficiently high wall between you and your neighbour – you can go there in your bathrobe or whatever, with a pillow face still on, for that first for the day early morning coffee and to take in the sunrise over Tiran.

All other apartment with roofs that we saw have roof access from the communal stairs, so you have to exit your apartment, then enter the roof area, where your part is marked with a low wall or something. And of course lock, unlock, then lock again, etc. along the way.

Thus – carpe diem! grab the moment! 🙂

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Now, the projects that were not our top list, but might still appeal to a different type of person and a different life style. We felt it most strongly with the new and über-elegant Golf Heights (follows somewhat further below), and it might also be the case with Sharm’s upcoming largest ever development around an own man-made lake or lagoon – the Citystars Sharm el Sheikh.

Backed on the Egyptian side by the same company who developed Arab world’s second largest mall (&hotel and residential complex) – the City Stars in Cairo, the Citystars Sharm el Sheikh will no doubt draw the up and wealthy from the rest of Middle East, the way El Gouna already is the top pick for a winter beach vacation among Cairo’s wealthiest (not Sharm, by the way!).

But back to some more best-of properties:

Sunterra

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Sunterra is a compound that I initially waived off, thinking it is “too Delta Sharm”  and “too boring” and “too nowhere”, as it is indeed located immediately beside Delta Sharm and indeed also mimicks the latter’s green, sparce, quiet villa environment. Minus the 12-something pools that are Delta’s biggest draw I think, because nowhere else have I seen that all pools and pool environments have a different design and offer a different environment. At least something then can be different in the same-y Sharm days… 😜

OK, so I just counted 8 or 9 pools in Sunterra, too (one is large as lagoon so difficult to decide where it starts or ends :)) but the turning point came when I heard that Egypt’s possibly best chain of hypermarkets – Carrefour – has agreed and signed to open a medium-sized market there. Carrefour already has a smaller business down in Naama Bay, but that will be Sharm’s first in food markets of over 2000 m2 retail space!

http://www.carrefour.com.eg/stores.aspx?SId=9

I started questioning my prejudices against that project. Because good businesses usually prefer to cooperate with other good businesses, so that was a signal worth of noting.

As it appeared, Sunterra is a development by one of Egypt’s really strong and solid businesses – the Sabbour family together with none else than National Bank of Egypt. They have around 30 different residential and other developments on way all around Egypt, including Cairo and North Coast areas.

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Because: do you check who is behind a project or in general any other undertaking that you are interested in??

I always do, and I know the professional agents in Sharm also always do, checking the financial statements of the developers that want to do business with them, and taking only healthy ones on board. It is not even just financial strength that counts, but the way the times now are in Egypt, you might find a project has stalled because the owner was pals with a wrong president, for example (never mind which one, but a wrong one) and now he isn’t getting his permissions cleared; or he is on the run abroad, hiding from the court; or indeed he has even been sentenced by the court and is sitting it out in the prison now, and no one (of course) wants to buy into his compound.

Thus – bear in mind to ask who is behind the development and what perspectives there are that he will carry through the project as planned.

Many, of course, are also perfectly decent though smaller-scale family-owned businesses and nothing wrong in going with them and supporting a more or less successful tinier entrepreneur who has but good intentions. But with Sunterra then it comes as no surprise that the payment conditions are generous, plus I think you can expect strong management and high standards.

Sunterra of course is also one of those compounds where there groundwork has been almost completed – the units have been built already, so you see what you can buy. Only the hotel area in the middle is yet to be completed.  Not too much is left available, so here it also applies: try to be relatively fast if want to grab up those very nice offers, in this end of Sharm, that side of Naama Bay.

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What immediately surprised and convinced us when we drove into Sunterra, was the high amount of cars parking by the buildings, signalling the area does really very well on the rental or ownership market, and that people who prefer to live here are the steady kind – those who live or work in Sharm for a longer period, and appreciate a quiet and home-like environment.

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The compound was also very, very green, with lots of palm trees offering nice shade around the pools. The buildings here only have 2 levels, so also automatically you get either your own bit of a garden, that is also indeed surrounded by a low wall fence for you, or you get a roof terrace, were you also are allowed to put up a mashrabeya wall for some added privacy, but a frame for pergola already stands there, and if you decide to grow a vine tree from the ground floor location somewhere, then vines indeed have ability to easily reach up there, and in the future you can have a very green roof in this way even if do not use the apartment on a regular basis, because the tree grows in the ground actually, and is watered from there (a weak point with roof terraces otherwise –how do you keep the plants green there, if are away, unless have a nice neighbour or something). I know because where we live now we have a vine that has already reached up to the 4th level, and still going strong, and we even do not water it, really. Such vitality!

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You might even get your own grapes, or what “might” – you will!

The apartments in Sunterra are a bit larger by sqm – i.e. a 1 br apartment here is 75 sqm, where elsewhere it is around 60 sqm perhaps – and therefore a bit more expensive, but the total price combined with a generous only 30% down payment request perfectly appeals. We looked at some 55 sqm studios and some 1 br apartments –the price difference between the two types is not noteworthy, as also the difference between a studio with a garden and studio with a roof is only around 1000 gbp.

There are a couple of units still available from where you have full front sea view from your top floor terrace and also roof terrace, over the untouched area that is the MFO (Multinational Force and Observers) territory, which should serve as a guarantee, basically, that it will remain undeveloped and nothing shall spoil that view, for as long as we now know.  The terrain here is fast decsending, too, so even if a development would be squeezed in, it would not obstruct the view.

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We also viewed a couple of ground floor units where the (gated) garden almost opened up to a pool directly, and also some other roof units, all of which also had some sea view, and very nice mountain view (often both).

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Plus a couple of 1 br units, that had a very nice floor plan, and in one case a generous garden surrounding the whole unit, so there was direct garden access from the living room but also from the bedroom around the corner of the building, really.

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The finishing of the stairs was nice and looking pricey to the eye. Bathrooms somewhat more ordinary, but quite spacious for Sharm – do not know about you, but I really hate small cubicles. I think a spacious bathroom automatically makes an even ordinary apartment feel more spacious and hmm… more expensive. Sunterra bathrooms looked more spacious than in other projects that we saw – perhaps 6+ sqm. A walk-in shower is possible, or a full bath.

The shades used inside units were nice soft greyish-yellowish limestone colours. These go well with many types of interiors, though once you own your unit you can of course have it repainted or redecorated according to your highest wishes. It is still cheap to hire a craftsman in Egypt.

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Perhaps Sunterra is a good pick for a slightly more pragmatic mind? As especially when Carrefour will open in Sunterra and bring other business along with it (it has this drawing capacity), so there will be food available in easy vicinity (fresh air DOES make one hungry!), and there will be cinemas and other ‘life’. And you will be right by the main, Peace road, half-way between two still very important nuclea – Naama Bay and the Old Market; in a compound with very strong rental appeal for medium and upper segments in Sharm, i.e. people who can afford what they choose, so you do not have to chase your rents you know. 🙂

Very well located for the long-term rental market, thus, and with fabulous views and environment around you, and your life easy, with food and services right close here – especially as the Hay el Noor area, where many big and serious or also thriftier shops and services, and handymen perhaps, are located, is right across the road from here, too.

But we felt that it is perhaps an area for people who indeed live in Sharm, or if you wish to own and rent to such people; while with our family we would also love to use our property ourselves quite a bit, but only for holidays, and then (having 2 kids) the beach access and what else would be available along the walkway there appealed over the Carrefour + guaranteed popularity for long-term renting.

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Then the compound where I almost already owned (in my mind) back in December, but then the apartment was sold before I got there 😢 The prices for brand new 1br then were around 350.000 egp, which was 2/3 of what they cost elsewhere, while still offering pretty much all the same. (The prices of course rose later.)

Riviera Sharm

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Riviera master plan

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First come – first served, no hard feelings here, but what I want to say here – if you see it, then go grab it! 😉 Before others do.

We viewed Riviera with Virgin Property, an Egyptian-Norwegian co-ownership, and I had a long communication with them over e-mail, before arriving, and got charmed by the views of new apartments that they had sold to other Scandinavians and that were really very eye-pleasingly decorated – Virgin Property also assists the owners with furnishing, if you wish. (I nicked these photos from Virgin Property’s Facebook page, where they have more… :P)

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All developers and agents perhaps do furnishings, to some extent, I think, but here I saw what I liked best in way of interiors, I have to admit. Unless it is due to my similarly Scandinavian taste, haha, that I like them so.

You do not of course select an apartment based on its furnishings, beause these are easy to replace, but Riviera also offers very good layouts that basically are the same that we got in Laguna Vista. The terrace opens up from the living room, for that al fresco dining option, or simply fresh air and views, because who would want to stay indoors in a year-round +25…+35C environment, right? Not me!

The bathrooms also are a decent size, if you remodel the floor plan a bit (and they do it, too), so depending of the specific apartment, but quite often, you can have a shower built along the full back wall – approximately 1 x 2 m, and can have it enclosed by a very elegant glass wall instead of curtains (that get smelly and stainy), the way they almost do it now in all upscale hotels. Or you can have a long bathtub there. Or even the curtains if you love them 😉 for that easily replaceable charm and colour.

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That white-furnished one really charmed me! 🙂 Prices now are very generous, the initial down payment of 50% a bit less generous than with the previous big developers, but I got an understanding they are flexible with that, if you have serious intention to buy there. The kitchen (wooden part of furniture) comes with the package – another 1000-2000 gbp saved here, and lots of headache from measuring and ordering.

They will also allow you to pick all colours for walls, and types of ceramic tiles you want to use, and of course the style of the kitchen, from respective retailers that they work with, and in case of ceramics, which is rather important as it decides much of the style of the apartment for the future, they use the Cleopatra Ceramics that I think has one of the best timeless selections and they are of course also the biggest manufacturers in Egypt. Where several more are offering what is trendy today (but stale tomorrow), Cleopatra Ceramics have a lot of tried and true on offer, or is it my taste simply, but… 😛 http://www.cleopatraceramics.com/welcome.do

So if you are very fresh in Sharm and new in Egypt, too, then ownership and getting your apartment ready for use or rent, would perhaps be easiest here, as a lot is included in the price already and the rest they also offer, if are interested.

Now, to be completely honest with you, where the previous two compounds are perhaps among top picks for image-consious renting and ownership (both with very good renommé), Riviera is a bit of an underdog in that it is an older compound and, at this time of viewing it (2014 January) looked a bit run down around the entrance.  The lawns dried up, the shrubs uncut… But that will probably change when the market turns up again and the owners regain their motivation!

You never know with any compound, actually, if it will get better or worse from what you see now; this is why it pays to look for strong and professional ownership.

In Riviera I liked best what they there call „the Italian corner“ where you can still find a pool-view apartment in (as yet) completely uninhabited new buildings complete with a mountain and sea view from your roof, for a very appealing price. But also very nice is the “Scandinavian area” there. 😀 And I loved the mountain-view apartments, further below.

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Riviera Panoramio photo

And you are „as if“ in Naama Bay! Makes you think, ugh?

We tried walking back from there, to see if it is doable, with a 5yr and 7yr kid in tow, after 1 hour up-and-down the stairs, and it was an easy couple of minutes walk to the corner where you turn inside for the new super-big Genena City, a mall that will offer also a hypermarket (5 minutes from your apartment in Riviera, then), lots of other boutique type of shopping options, an indoor play area for kids, a large food terrace with gorgeous seaviews and Naama views, and direct access down to the heart of Naama Nay and the public beaches there, with help of escalators that they already have in place there (but not working yet at the time of our visit or me writing this story).

Yesss, it will look like this – it IS already there!  http://genenacity.net/

Genena City will open step-by-step in February 2014, and with this the short-term rental appeal of Riviera Sharm, I think, will considerably rise. Riviera is after all one of the greenest, lushest compound of all those that are immediately beside Naama Bay; also one of the few by the main road (for fast and easy movement to wherever you want); and still the appeal of being able to simply walk down to Naama, for beach or night life, I think, is pretty unbeatable, especially for someone who comes for a week only, and wants to escape the hassle with taxis etc. Even with a kid or a push-chair, if want, it is easily doable.

Riviera of course also has nice demand on the long-term rental market, on perhaps a tad cheaper level, but it is a relatively easy rental job exactly because of its super location that so much eases one’s daily life. And you had a glimpse in the beginning of what others have done and you also could do with your interiors there – simply fabulous apartments! Nice materials, good layout, lots of nice views on offer – even street views in some cases well concealed by greenery in front of the terrace or window, and there is a direction where you are facing the mountain, meaning there are no more buildings, and never will be, between you and that mountain and the palms and flowers there.

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This ground floor apartement above, mountain-side, has a bit of own garden around its terrace, lined with a high mashrabeya wall, so you are protected from a prying eye. They will even build a pergola over it, if want.

Definitely worth viewing, especially if want a not-so-expensive but very comfortable apartment where yourselves you can holiday a couple of times a year and enjoy easy access to all main pleasures of Sharm, but at all other times you would not mind some extra income from short or long-term rent. Also might be that it is here you can afford that larger 2 br apartement, with sea and mountain views from your own bit of roof terrace, that you would not be able to do elsewhere. Think about it! 😉

Riviera offers apartments ranging from 54sqm 1br to 90 or 108 sqm for a 2br. Ground floor with bit of garden, top floor with roof access from stairs. Some with 1, some with 2 and some even with 3 balconies (=one for each room). Also important to note – you can easily place a table with two couples facing one another, on that balcony, so at around 1.4m width it indeed serves as a dining extension of your living room.

We enjoyed a warm welcome from Mr Tamer Khairy and his closely-knit team, and I am forever thankful to his charming wife Mrs Lene Andersen for her patient explanations and good insights into the property market in Sharm. On place we were treated to thorough explanations with a developer’s representative at hand, and indeed lots of interesting options for the size and price, for the views, etc.

Visit first, to see if there is anything for you, then do your maths on the options that you actually really-really like.

***

We viewed one more new development during our day out with the agent:

Golf Heights

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Golf Heights is a very new development in the further end of Nabq Bay, that after a relatively sleepy period just really got on its feet (in 2014) and going in the last couple of months, as we were told, and is now advancing at full speed. It is here that the new Dolphina dolphinarium is located. A lot of it, including almost all studio units with seaview (the sweetest deals for a thrifty romantic) is sold already. There are however, sufficiently good deals still available, especially lots and lots of villas… And the larger 2br units here cost just as much as a 1 br elsewhere, some even with partial seaview from own balcony, but the views from roof units, if you can get your hands on one, are breathtaking! Here you see freely over all Sharm – left or right, sea or mountains.

The development is also immediately by the second most important bit of road in Nabq, not very lively for traffic now, but you can tip a minibus to take you here, or call a taxi.

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This is Phase 1, in January 2014.

I have to admit it is a very elegant development. The quality of entrances to the buildings, the stairs, the finishing of doors etc, here perhaps was the best, most expensive of anything we saw during our viewings.

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The architecture with clear Arabian details is very eye-pleasing.

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The development clearly has a distinctive character, it has style, and it has indeed gorgeous views and endless greenery to surround it forever, in way of the golf field that lies immediately behind it in the direction of mountains and the sunset.

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Now, for our part, I did not very well picture us there, complete with our preschool age kids and their toys and beach accessories laying around… you get the idea, I hope. 🙂 But a bachelor’s den or somewhere to entertain your similarly single and elegant female friends, or a peaceful abode for an older couple, or of course accommodation for someone who simply comes to play golf?

A very elegant choice, and again the fact of living by the golf field immediately signals you will have that rare space and views here around you that elsewhere in Sharm el Sheikh might be a disappearing species soon! You can kind of picture what kind of people would love to own or rent here, what kind of community it will perhaps be.

But no beach access in package, which for us helped to decide, and although we preferred a garden, then also only in Laguna Vista the roofs are truly private. Access to the roof is from your own apartment, so the top floor is like a duplex really, and also up there you get walls all around you. Go up in your pyjamas if want – no one will see.

In Sunterra, Riviera and Golf Heights, top floor apartments also get a bit of the roof, BUT access is from the communal stairwell. To use your roof, you have to exit the apartment, lock it, go up, unlock the roof… and the roof is all open, with just symbolic borders between each section. Finished with sitting there – again lock, descend, unlock… etc. Versus running up and down whenever you wish, without the need to lock or even close anything:

Laguna Vista top floor with stairs to private roof

Laguna Vista top floor with stairs to private roof

 

There is even seaview – because the project really has one of th smartest plannings in all Sharm, then it is also landscaped onto a rising hill, and all top floor apartments, especially in the high back areas, have a lovely panoramic saview, like this (street level at the back of the Residence where the 3 royal villas are):

Laguna Vista Residence, sea view from top floor

Laguna Vista Residence, sea view from top floor

***

As you can see, the final choice very much depends of what kind of life style or what kind of utilisation, what purpose, you envision for your property. The first three floated highest up for any of my purposes – to use a bit but also rent a bit, and gain from the long-term value appreciation (if we’ll be ever willing to let go of ours, that is ;-)). They are close to what I think will be rarest in the future – to the established entertainment centres – the “downtowns” of Sharm, like Naama Bay is now, or certain strips of Nabq, or close to what is even less imitable – the sea and the beach. They are not too “high-rise” nor too populous, but more like chalet-type environments, for that relaxed “I am on beach holiday wearing my favourite old t-shirt and flip-flops” feeling, as opposed to holidaying in a suburb-like setting. They also have a good proportion of greenery on the territory between the buildings, to please the eye.

While Golf Heights also stands out for its distinctive character, appealing architecture and the indeed gorgeous free space around it.

Chacun a son goût or everyone according to his taste! I am here simply to help those who feel interested get a basic understanding of what options are available and what to look out for, by describing how I found mine. Then go pick an agent and let them show you the properties on location and talk about prices and payments.

And try be less prejudiced… 😛 The way I allowed me see Sunterra, that I had initially totally refused. Because photos, even if very good ones, still do not tell everything.

Legal issues

The legal part of buying and owning in Sinai is more or less (let’s put it this way) a leap of faith, that you do based on the belief that, if so many foreigners in Sharm have done it before you and are happily enjoying the ownership and its fruits, then it cannot go very wrong, perhaps. 😛

What I mean here, is that any property that foreigners can buy in Sinai, is on basis of usufruct only (freehold debatable if the developer has it), most currently for 50 years initially, which can be extended by 25 years, on mutual agreement.

This may again change at some point in the future, you’ll never know, except there is a strong gut feeling in me that no government in this country would go for a regulation that would simply frighten off all investment at once. We are stronger, the more we are! 😉

Thus, I bought mine on the currently valid terms of “50 years of usufruct renewable for another 50 years” – thus effectively equating my deal to previous 99 year usufructs, if law so permits. 99 years is a very long period of time and much can happen during that. I do not think I have any visions about my life longer than 10 years, perhaps. And I did my maths – I am not losing, not even on a 5 yr basis, based on previous pace of property appreciation in Sharm el Sheikh.

It also helps, certainly, to buy from a known and trusted business who has a strong trade name and image to worry about. They would not ‘con’ you, forgive for putting it that strong, because to them it would be an even much much bigger loss than for you. While with a re-sale from a single private owner the surest way perhaps is to check with the compound’s developer that the person who proposes as owner, really also is one, and has the right to sell, and the developer then will be the one who has the right to transfer the title of ownership.

Or get a lawyer, if the seller also is the “developer”, of his small 4 apartment villa, for example, like it may happen in the older Rowaysat, Hay el Noor, Hadaba and the newer Montazah areas of Sharm, and thus his background or full rights indeed are not known to you.

The next step after that would be the registration of the deed in a court, something that the developer of a new project will do for you as part of the deal, though only after you’ve paid the full price of the apartment (=after 3 years, if you take the payment plan). There are no property registries, at least not in Sinai, so the only official proof is the purchase contract where both parties signatures have been validated by that court registration, so neither one can say the deal never happened.

For more detailed legal explanations please firstly consult the following link http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/new-ownership-regulations-sinai-are-worrying-many

There is also a Facebook group Ownership Rights in Sinai, https://www.facebook.com/groups/296452943800461/  where you can discuss your worries though please be kind to read the basics first, because one can get really worn out by lots of essentially same questions appearing in those groups over and over again, if you understand me.

There are also lawyers available in Sharm, like the very informative Zeiad Yehia who therefore has risen to a kind of celebrity position in that field and has buyers running after his time, constantly, so he is still very helpful but do not count on gaining his attention. Or, if you are extra cautious or cannot choose, then some embassies in Cairo (I know UK and US do it) publish lists of law offices in Cairo with whom they advise you can do business safely.

Me and my family in this case were perfectly satisfied with how our seller concluded our deal, and with my contract, where the text runs in English and Arabic in parallel. As then it is my sole investment and I will be the legal owner, and not my husband (yes, his & hers even after vows, in this country), then I signed under both languages, though in case of a conflict the Arabic text will take prevalence, but that is mostly the case of all such agreements, that the language of country of the contract takes prevalence. Again the trade name of the developer here is well known and you can trust the company needs to keep their good renommé even more badly than you do.

***

Financing

The standard booking fee best to have at hand is around 1000 usd; that will reserve the apartment for you for around 1-2 weeks, until you organise the transfer of the rest of the payment or down payment. With my seller I signed my part ot the agreement in 3 copies immediately and left with them. My copy (already then also signed by the developer) will be couriered to me once I have transferred the down payment or the 30% or 50% as the case may be (minus the reservation fee that is counted as part of it). I also have the receipt for the reservation fee, of course.

That’s it! I need to pinch me here again – I own a home in Sharm el Sheikh, and it is truly mine! Feels wonderful! 😉

***

I have not been offered any incentives for this story. It is just my tiny way of showing appreciation to people who helped me in my decision, and helping Egypt some by spreading the good word. Plus, it would be a shame to let all the research and pondering go awaste. I hope it will help someone.

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14 comments on “Buying property in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, in 2014

  1. As you discribe Tarek Baligh way off working, this is how we experienced our property search in Sharm in 2012, he is really an asset to the property business in Sharm. We found him also very helping in trying to find the right property for us. And he found us our dream. We aren’t not really your neighbour but allmost, we bought a ground floor appartment in Golf Heights hope to see you in Sharm. Michel & Chantal Fooy – Belgium

    • Oh, congratulations, Michel and Chantal! It is indeed a very elegant project, and lap pools in front of each building are a good idea too – if you are ground floor, you can probaby just run and hop in from your terrace first thing in the morning!

      So, meet you in the grocery lane in what is that Nabq supermarket now? Soon! 😉

  2. I would never use Zeiad Yehia from edgebridge. He was acting for a few of us and in 4 years he never did anything except lie about where he was up to with the case. He often disappears and never replies to emails or phone calls. He has now disappeared with everybody’s contracts. DO NOT USE THIS CONMAN.

    • I have to say about he above comment: as with anything that media feeds to us, or Internet feeds to us – anything is only as trustworthy as is its source. And the above source is completely anonymous. But, for the sake of good trust and balance, let that comment also be.
      I have indeed never met Mr Yehia nor am I informed of his current agenda or job load etc, but I have read his written advice or comments and these have made sense. 🙂

  3. Dear Egypto-Estonian
    I read your blog about buing property in Sharm with big pleasure, you write with love and passion. I am now on the same platform as you were 1 year ago. I want to buy or rent property in Nabq and live there, I am Polish. During last 2 years I was 13 times to Sharm. Now I booked a ticket on 6th of May and want to stay there at least for 6 months. To make my story short I am going to merritum: do you have any knowledge about 1-2 bedroom apartments for rent for a long term and maybe with option to buy? You described so beautifully your place of living in Laguna Vista that I started to think of becoming your neighbour, is there any apt free around you? For me it is very important to have access to the beach and all hotel facilities, so I am thinking besides Laguna about such places like Amwaj Hotel, Hayat, Oriental….
    I will apreciate if you will give me any hint. I miss so much Sharm El Sheikh that I can not stay in Warsaw any longer, even when I came back from Sharm one month ago.
    With best regards Eva

    • Hello Eva, I actually have college mates from Poland, from a region near Sopot. 🙂 A beautiful beach resort!

      I think most compounds happily will rent to you an apartment. 🙂 You can contact any of the agents that I recommended or also browse the rental adverts at sharmwomen.com real estate board http://www.sharmwomen.com/wb/pages/real-estate.php You might also find a resale there with a good price.

      I have to admit I do not know the Nabq compounds too well because I did not even consider Nabq very seriously until I started thinking of beach use. And I searched architecturally interesting projects only. What you mention are all well located for beach use and also for renting out if you so wish, as all these compounds are by the main road and close to hotels, thus popular among those who work in Nabq. But I know nothing more of those compounds in hotels – Amway, Oriental etc, or who would sell apartments there. I think there are no new sales in any of them right now, only resales? But I may be mistaken. Amway seems to be quite popular with people who work in Nabq so not even sure if there is rental availability there. I suggest you contact Tarek Baligh at E-dar Sharm, t.baligh@e-dar.com and rent something in Laguna Vista, they have some 1 BRs there that are vacant, I believe, and take your time and search what is best for you while you are in Sharm. 🙂

      There is also a compound called Nubia Sharm (hotel name is Sea Beach) that is by the beach and somewhat interesting, almost in the end of Nabq, near Jaz Mirabel, but still by the main road, and by the beach. 🙂 Unfortunately, it shares the same problem with many other developments – a lot of apartments have dark windowless living rooms and access to the terrace is from the bedroom. Egyptians quite like it this way as they do not care about sun or light but rather of shade. But I personally find it less comfortable.

      To stay for 6 months is a good idea because you will have time to go see all compounds, and to search well. 🙂

  4. Hi, wow what a lot of Information. We went to sharm for a family holiday this year and fell in love. Now thinking about moving there. Wondering about schooling though at secondary level. And how much of the year you are allowed to live there if u purchase a place. Or if tiu. It to rent out how much of the year yiu can occupy it yourselves?

    • Hi, Jo!

      My kids do not go to school in Sharm but if you are in Facebook, then you can join the group https://www.facebook.com/groups/207376232694342/ (Sharm Mothers) and ask there. I think for secondary level there is mainly Sharm College, that has a national and an international curriculum in parallel. http://sharmcollege.com/ Or St. Joseph’s with American and National curriculum http://www.sjissharm.com/

      If you purchase a place, you can of course live there full time, if wish. These are not time-shares, though there have been also some time-share projects in the past, as much as know. Or you live at all the times you wish, and have it rented out during the times when you are not there. It is not regulated in any way. 🙂 There is a very nice and active small British operator who will do it for you, his name is Shaun Bell or Sharm elSheikh Apartments https://www.facebook.com/Sharm.el.Sheikh.Apartments (both on FB), but also many others.

      If you mean “how much” in the sense if there are any visa regulations, then not for owners, as much as know. You may apply for a 6 months multiple entrance visa, for example, and then extend it from time to time. If you buy for a certain amount, which may be 55 000 usd but may have also changed, not such expert in legal issues, and there have been changes and will be changes (in way of promoting investment, mostly and hopefully now), in any case then you may be eligible for a residency even, in which case you normally get it for a year, first, and the next time for 5 years already. Investors from more affluent countries sometimes enjoy preferential treatment in these issues. 😉 😉

      If I more or less understood you correctly… 🙂

  5. Hi,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog and about all the nuances of buying an apartment in different developments. We are a couple with a small baby, that are looking to come and enjoy the living by the sea style of living – maybe for couple of weeks during a year or possibly more, but with an option to rent it out if there is going to be a need.

    Do you know if the developer still sells those apartments in the Laguna Vista residence? I have seen in one of the other entries that you mentioned Nubia Sharm, do you think it is a good alternative? How is it with the access to the beach, can you and all friend visiting you access it freely?

    Regards,

  6. The latest news from some European travel agents, that flights are bound to resume in October 2016.
    At the present time the Egyptian Minister of Tourism is working with his Russian counterpart in resuming Russian flights to Sharm El sheikh.
    In the mean time Mr. some Egyptian business men are in contact with members from the Italian parliament to clear the issues that followed the unfortunate indecent of one of Italians living in Cairo.
    Since the Russian flight crash over Sinai tourism industry has been negatively affected in Sharm, also the property market has slowed down for sale, however the rental market was lucky as it carried with a drop in the rental prices, and we at Global Real estate continued our service is this hard climate to maintain our property management service to our clients, as we offer Short and long letting apartment rental booking for holiday makers, Divers, or employees working in Sharm El sheikh. A selection of Below Market value Properties (BMV) for cash buyers and property investors. Land investment for major real estate projects such as constructing resorts, hotels, or shopping Malls Honest Property Legal Advice, answering questions concerning laws governing property ownership for Egyptians, dual nationals, and foreigners,and updating all interested investors with the latest in the Real Estate market in Sharm through our office in Naama Bay, and our website at http://www.sharmelsheikhpropertydirectory.com/

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