Realtors doubt that enough properties will hit the market in Abu Dhabi to meet a government deadline that public sector workers set up home in the emirate.
They report a stampede to find the best homes is under way as thousands of workers have to relocate from nearby Dubai to Abu Dhabi to meet a government decree.
Property firms are expecting around 5,000 flats and 4,000 villas to complete during the next year – but consider even that number of homes will not meet demand.
“People looking for a new home are flooding us with inquiries,” Andrew Covill, of LLJ Property.
“Many want to rent and some want to buy. As the deadline draws ever closer, people need a home in Abu Dhabi and they are looking for quality. Many will be disappointed.”
The popular neighbourhoods for home seekers are Al Raha Beach, Reem Island and Al Reef.
“Airport workers and Etihad crew are keen on these neighbourhoods as they are close to the airport,” he said. “Saadiyat Island is also extremely popular as it has the only golf resort in the city.
“The problem with Abu Dhabi is affordable housing is in short supply and this problem will take some time to resolve with such a huge influx of new residents and their families.”
The property squeeze was created by the government ordering public workers to give up their homes in Dubai in favour of moving to Abu Dhabi.
For many expats, the choice has been to live in Dubai, which has better shops, sports and entertainment than Abu Dhabi, as well as more luxury property for sale and rent.
Dubai is a two-hour commute from Abu Dhabi, so each working day tends to see a rush hour dash that empties Abu Dhabi as workers head home to Dubai.
One of the issues was the Abu Dhabi government felt Dubai was growing richer on salaries paid to expats in the emirate as they were earned in Abu Dhabi but spent in Dubai.
The emirate has also undergone a massive infrastructure improvement to cope with the expected new arrivals. The government has built new roads, housing, schools and hospitals for the expanding population.
Public sector workers have until May 2014 to comply with the deadline to allow them to give notice on rent agreements without penalty.
However, those who do not move face losing their housing allowance, which makes up a large proportion of their pay.