Man behind the Burj Dubai says owners are in 'dire need of cash'

The company behind the Burj Dubai has said property prices in the emirate could fall by as much as a fifth this year.

Mohammed Alabbar, Emaar Properties' chairman, said the decline would be based on the location and level of units being sold.

He said: “I expect the decline to reach 20% even if there were some units being sold cheaper because their owners are in dire need for cash.”

Last week a HSBC survey said property prices in December had fallen 23% from a record high in September. Villas fell 30% while apartments were 20% lower, the bank added.

The HSBC report said there had been “some signs of distressed selling in the fourth quarter” while a number of units had been sold below what it cost to actually build them.