Dubai has become one of the world’s most sought after places for foreign investors. In the last few years there have been changes to the law which have made Dubai freehold property available to foreign investors. It is now fairly easy to purchase real estate in Dubai, subject to the usual conditions such as the ability to finance. Always get expert advice to help you negotiate the local laws and regulations in this booming middle east country.
Buying Dubai Freehold Property
Determine what type of property you are interested in. Foreign buyers often choose to purchase either apartments, townhouses, or villas, which are generally located in secure complexes with elaborate leisure facilities such as tennis courts, swimming pools and gyms.
- In 2002, by royal decree, foreign nationals became eligible to buy and own property in Dubai.
- Ensure you are looking at an area in which foreigners are allowed to buy property.
- Some of the most popular, luxurious and expensive developments include Emaar Towers, Jumeirah Gardens, International City and Al Hamra Village.
Start your search online. As with any property search, a good place to start is online. There are numerous agencies and real estate agents that list properties for sale in Dubai online. You can buy properties through a real estate agent or direct from a developer. Real estate agents generally sell resale properties, which are properties that have been built and have previous owners. Developers sell pre-construction properties off of a plan, and these may be prior to any construction, or still under-construction.
Contact a local real estate agent. If you want help with your search, you will need to speak to someone with specialist local knowledge about the property market in Dubai. It’s always best to employ a real estate agent to work with, as they can help you to find properties and explain your options to you. Big real estate companies are used to dealing with foreign buyers and will speak English.
- Laws and regulations can change quickly in Dubai, so hiring an agent will help you avoid any potential pitfalls.
- In Dubai, the buyer pays the real estate commission; you can expect to pay a fee of between 2% and 5% of the value of the property.
- You should always check the credentials of anyone you hire. The regulatory body for Real Estate in Dubai is the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA).
Attend property fairs. The property market in Dubai is still relatively young, although growing fast. As a result, a significant amount of property bought by foreigners is bought pre-construction from developers. Property fairs are a popular way for developers to present their proposals and meet potential buyers. These property fairs are held all over the world, so look for one visiting a city near you.
- You should always check that the developer you are considering is registered and licensed with the RERA.
- You can browse a list of licensed developers on the Dubai Land Department website: http://www.dubailand.gov.ae/English/Pages/Approved-Developers.aspx
Visit Dubai. Before you think about making a move for a property be sure that you have spent a little time in Dubai. If you are buying a resale property ensure that you view as many properties as you can, and ask the same questions you would ask if you were buying property anywhere else in the world.
- If you are buying off-plan or construction is not complete, make sure you go to see similar properties by the same developer that are finished.
- When you are in Dubai, you will also have access to paper listings in specialist local newspapers and magazines, and be able to attend the property fairs that continue all year.
Meeting Eligibility and Financial Requirements
Have the required ID and visa documents. Since a change to the law in 2002, it has become possible for foreigners to buy and rent Dubai freehold property. You will, however, still need to present a valid passport to prove your identity. You are not required to hold any type of residency permit in order to buy property, but assuming you want to stay there you will have to have this available.
- The UAE government has a six month visa for property buyers, called the “Property Holders Visa.”
- This allows foreign investors to stay in Dubai for six months while they investigate possible purchases.
- To qualify for this, the property you buy must have a value greater than 1 million dirhams, which is equal to about $272,000 U.S. dollars.
- You must be buying as an individual, and not as a company.
Determine the full costs. You need to be certain that you can afford the property and meet all of the costs attached to the purchase. When you are determining the overall cost of the property you should include the purchase price, the deposit, transfer fees, real estate agent fees and the potential for currency exchange rates to fluctuate.
- It is not legally necessary, but it is highly advisable to employ a lawyer to help you negotiate all the paperwork.
- Include the costs of a lawyer in your calculations.
- A new-build property will likely require a land registration fee of around 2%
Get a mortgage in Dubai. Mortgages can be difficult to obtain in Dubai. Non-status/self-certification mortgages are not available and the amount of red tape and paperwork involved can be off-putting to those accustomed to a less rigorous system. In some cases, buyers may be required to put down between 20% and 50% of the value of the mortgage in cash.
- Mortgages in Dubai are paid in monthly installments, with 15 year terms the most common. Residents of India cannot mortgage their property in Dubai and raise loans. Indian residents are also not permitted to give a guarantee to any loan from a non-resident.
- The maximum length of mortgage term in Dubai is 25 years.
- Mortgage repayments, combined with any other monthly expenses, must not exceed 35% of net monthly income.
- As foreign exchange can be tricky, it is advisable to obtain professional advice before deciding to take out any mortgage in a foreign currency.
- Mortgage rules have been known to change in Dubai, so try to keep up-to-date by consulting local news and the Central Bank of the UAE.
Buying Pre-Construction in Dubai
Submit an application form to the Developer. If you are buying pre-construction property, the first step once you have decided on the property you want and secured all the financing, is to submit a completed builder’s form. This form will summarize the basic terms and conditions of the sales agreement, including information on the payment plan, and personal information from all parties.
- You will be required to submit your passport along with the reservation form.
- Be aware that some developers are still selling leasehold rather than freehold titles. If this is the case, the title is valid for the period stipulated in the lease agreement.
- Ensure you fully understand the details of the contract and have it checked by your lawyer.
- If the property is not yet complete, make sure you know what responsibilities the developer has if it is delayed for any reason.
Pay the deposit. Once the reservation document has been accepted you will have to pay the reservation deposit. The amount will be stipulated in your application, but it will typically range between 5% and 15% of the purchase price. Developers will often not draw up the official sales and purchase agreement until this deposit has been paid, and will sometimes charge up to 20% or more.
- When buying pre-construction, you should ensure that the deposits and payments you make are paid into a RERA-approved trust account.
- These payments are then transferred to the developer as the construction work is completed.
Complete a formal sales and purchase agreement. The formal and legally binding contract is the sales and purchase agreement. Make sure this specifies the date by which the property should be completed, and what penalties the developer will incur if it is delayed. Have a lawyer look over the contract with you, and check all the details, terms and conditions.
- If the property is supposed to be furnished, ensure that a date for when that will be done is included in the agreement.
Transfer of the deed. To complete the purchase there is a transfer of deed into your name. This is the point at which you will be required to pay 100% of the purchase price. The deed will not be transferred, and you will not own the property until you have paid, so you must have financing in place.
- If the property has been fully completed, the transfer will happen at the Land Department Office.
- If it is yet to be finished, you will transfer the deeds at the developer’s office.
- You will then generally be invited to inspect the property and highlight any final issues or deficiencies that the developer needs to address.
Buying Resale Property
Sign a Memorandum of Understanding. To purchase resale property in Dubai you must agree to terms with the seller, and record this in a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This is a basic document that outlines the terms and conditions, including the price and closing date of the purchase. It is not legally binding, but is a necessary first step to buying resale property.
Pay the initial deposit. Once the MOU is signed, the purchaser will have to pay the deposit, typically around 10% of the purchase price. This deposit is normally non-refundable, unless there is a particular reason why the seller is unable to bring the transaction forward.
- At this point you will also have to pay the real estate commission, normally between 2% and 5%.
Obtain the deed. Once you have an agreement and financing in place, you can move on and complete the purchase. As an expat you will be required to pay 100% of the purchase price before the deed is transferred, just as if you were buying a pre-construction development. To do this, you may need to attend an appointment at the Land Department and present all the paperwork.
- The buyer, the real estate agent, and the loan officer from the lender who is financing the purchase may all be required to attend the meeting at the Land Department.
We hope you have found this guide to buying Dubai freehold property both useful and interesting.