A Step-by-Step Guide for First-Time Property Buyers in Dubai
If you are planning to purchase a property in Dubai and curious about how the entire process works, you are not alone and you are in the right place. For sure, before coming here, you have searched videos and articles explaining the ins and outs of the region’s real estate market.
Well, here’s the truth—one of the problems with information on the internet regarding the industry is that it quickly becomes out of date. This is because the government of Dubai prides itself as being more efficient and faster than the private sector; hence, things change at a constant and rapid pace.
I understand how a first-time investor needs to know even the smallest details of purchasing a property in Dubai. This is why in this article, I have tried my best to explain the hows of the process from A to Z with up-to-date and simplified steps. However, at the end of this article, if you still have some queries, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I am always willing to help and we can discuss everything over the phone or over a cup of coffee.
Take your time to read this blog and I assure you that once you finish it, you will be more enlightened than ever. So, without further ado, let’s start the journey.
1st Step: Work with the Right Agent
I made this the first step not because I am a real estate consultant, but because this step is a MUST. When it comes to buying a property in Dubai, a consultant serves as a compass that gives you the right directions. Without the right advice and guidance, you can get lost in the process. Not only this will cost you money, but also time and energy.
The good news is there are various ways to search for a reliable and reputable real estate agent in the city. They are as follows:
- Online Research – You need to hire a consultant who is experienced and has a wealth of knowledge in Dubai’s real estate market. They must be able to guide you from A to Z and ensure that the property buying process is a breeze.
- Ask a Friend – Referrals are a powerful way to experience satisfaction in any service. Therefore, if any of your family members, colleagues, or friends have worked with a real estate agent when they bought a property, ask regarding their experience. If they are happy, then go for that agent.
- Hire Us – For sure, you are here on our website because either someone recommended us to you or you found us through online research. Whatever the case may be, why not hire us? Through the years, we have served a huge number of clients who bought a property in Dubai and they are our repeat clients now.
2nd Step: Determine Your Desired Outcome
When you have selected an experienced and reliable agent, move on to determining your goals when it comes to real estate investment in Dubai. Let’s explore below the common reasons a lot of people are drawn to the real estate market.
- Capital Growth – If you are investing your savings, most probably, capital growth is on top of your priority. This has been a practice for centuries now and works well when purchasing a property in Dubai, where people let the money they invested in real estate grow in value with time.
Say, for instance, you are planning to purchase a property and sell it an appreciated rate down the line. You and your trusted agent need to work together in searching for such properties in the city, which can potentially produce good returns in the coming years.
Bear in mind though that there is no guarantee when it comes to capital growth. Depending on several factors, your property could go up or lose its value in the next coming years. We can discuss this further over a cup of coffee, so you will completely understand the ins and outs of buying a property in Dubai.
- Parking the Money – In my years of experience in Dubai’s real estate market, I have met several investors who chose to invest their money into real estate rather than in their bank accounts where it only depreciates with time. At the end of the day, no matter how you turn the world upside down, real estate is an asset. The great thing about such investment is that it can be liquidated whenever you want.
- Rental Income – The fantastic thing about Dubai is that it offers a safe and lucrative real estate market. Here, the value of your property will not only increase with time, but you can also make high rental yields compared to other parts of the world.
As for me, this is by far, the most ideal type of real estate investment. Having a property in Dubai gives you three things: secure money, financial growth, and monthly income.
3rd Step: Decide on the Type of Property
It’s essential to ensure that your targets and desires are aligned when purchasing a property in Dubai. The good news is that there are several off-plan and ready property options to choose from.
For instance, if you want to purchase a beachfront property and your aim is to earn high rental yield from that investment, then it’s a contradiction.
Let’s examine the possible outcomes that you can expect from various types of properties in Dubai.
- Purchase Plot/Land in Dubai – Say, for instance, your aim is to invest your money in real estate and you are not that concerned regarding earning a rental income. Then, purchasing a plot/ land in Dubai is the ideal option for you.
If purchased in a good location at a reasonable price, you can expect growth in your investment over time. Plus, this can also give you a huge possibility of future income such as a joint venture with a construction company to establish a multi-family housing project, selling at an appreciated price, and many more.
- Purchase a Residential Property in Dubai – Did you know that residential properties are the most in demand among people who want to own a property in the city? The beauty of these properties is that they offer a great rental income and selling them is also easy-peasy.
In the past few years, the real estate sector of the region has seen some substantial changes. From being driven by a majority of investors, it has also now become shared equally by end-users. Thus, the market now has a combination of end-users and investors purchasing properties in Dubai.
Let’s check out their different types below.
- Purchase an Apartment in Dubai – This region is home to some of the tallest and most awe-inspiring skyscrapers in the world. Hence, this offers an endless option of wide-ranging apartments to select from. However, keep in mind that various types of apartments offer various benefits to a buyer or investor.
- Purchase a Townhouse/Villa in Dubai – The city is teeming with exclusive communities that offer townhouses and villas. If you prefer to purchase a villa for investment, that means your tenant will most likely be a family that consists of several members. Since these tenants stay for a long period of time, you can reap the benefits of a steady rental income without worries about searching for new tenants each year.
- Purchase a Studio Apartment in Dubai – You’re in for some real treat if you choose to invest your money in studio apartments, as these are the best-selling properties in the city. Given that these are smaller in size (400 – 550 sqft), the value of investment is also low (anywhere from 400,000 to AED 600,000).
And do you know why studio apartments are a favourite among investors? It’s because they offer high rental yield and are extremely easy to sell given that there are several takers in the market.
- Purchase a 1-Bedroom Apartment in Dubai – If you are aiming to get high rental yields, then you should also consider investing in a 1-bedroom apartment as it ranks second after studios. It’s never difficult to rent this apartment and there are several tenants interested. What’s more, selling is easy.
- Purchase a Two or More Bedroom Apartment in Dubai – Typically, two or more bedroom apartments are preferred by people purchasing property in Dubai for themselves. These are also in demand among those who intend to pay mortgage payment to the bank on a monthly basis instead of paying the rent and not getting any ownership rights to the property.
While this is still an ideal option, it’s not as lucrative as a 1-bedroom apartment or a studio.
- Purchase a Commercial Property in Dubai – There is a vast array of commercial properties in the city. These include an office, a hotel apartment, a hotel room, and a warehouse. Let’s check them out below.
- Purchase an Office in Dubai – Due to the market’s contraction sentiment, the office and commercial market in the region has been quite soft in the last couple of years. Like other economies in the globe, Dubai-based corporations are reducing their costs and keeping expansion plans on hold since the decline of oil prices. However, this is also considered an ideal time to purchase office units at a more affordable price and sell them at an appreciated rate once the market starts to move in the upward cycle.
- Purchase a Hotel Apartment / Hotel Room in Dubai – Are you dead serious about making rental income from your property but don’t want the stress associated with dealing with tenants? Then, it’s ideal to put your hard-earned cash in a hotel apartment/room.
While such investment doesn’t provide you with complete control over your property and you are required to sign a contract with a management company in order to rent and manage your property, it can give you a rental yield approximately between 5% and 6%.
- Purchase a Warehouse in Dubai – The government of Dubai puts a lot of focus on its energy and resources towards bolstering its economy. The advent of EXPO 2020 is anticipated to draw interest from industrialists worldwide to set up their factories, manufacturing units, and industries in Dubai. Since several projects are currently under construction and in planning phases close to the site of the EXPO, purchasing a warehouse in Dubai South will offer you a lot of exciting opportunities.
4th Step: Select the Property
Upon determining the type of property you want to purchase in Dubai, it’s time for the real deal. Let’s say you prefer to invest your cash in a property that provides you with at least 10% rental yield on a yearly basis.
I will advise you to purchase a small residential property in a low/mid income community. The reason behind this is that you will be on the safer side. During economic growth, residents of low-end communities move to mid-end communities. On the other hand, if it suffers a downturn, residents from high-end communities move to low/ mid-end communities. In both scenarios, you can find a tenant for the property you purchased in the city.
Below are some salient points to remember when choosing a property:
- Age of the Property – Given that Dubai is a very young city, so is its real estate sector, with most developments hardly 10 to 12 years old. The age of the property is one of the most important factors to consider when making the final decision.
- Developer – There are a lot of big names in Dubai’s development market. However, at times, the best properties are built by unpopular developers. Thus, it’s crucial to conduct research regarding the developer. But, what if you’re not in Dubai? It’s easy. Request your agent to meet with the developer and do his due diligence.
- Historical Information – Unfortunately, there’s not many historical data available in the region’s real estate market, but if you’re working with the right agent, they will use their connection and resourcefulness to find an accurate and useful data regarding the property you are setting your sights on.
As a consultant, I always strive to get as much historical information about the property as possible. These include the amount of rental income it has produced in the last couple of years, the frequency at which the property has been sold before, the common issues experienced by tenants living in the building or property, and many more.
- Building Management Company – Last but not least, ensure that your agent will be able to search this information for you. Every building in the city has its own exclusive staff for repairs, security, management, and cleaning. You will find it easier to make a decision if you have knowledge about the firm managing the building.
5th Step: Evaluate the Property
If you ever come across an agent who sends you a deal and claims that it’s the best deal offered in the market, even if that’s me, run as fast as you can. While it’s true that there are some really good deals out there, that mainly depends on different factors. At least, the agent needs to provide you with something as a comparison.
This is where having some know-how when it comes to evaluating a property can come in handy. For years, I have been using a clear-cut and streamlined evaluation process (similar to professional and authorized evaluators), which lets me know how great a deal is compared to other deals offered in the market.
To give you some ideas, let’s explore below the factors to take into account while evaluating a deal.
- Market Asking Price – The best way to play your cards well is to know the comparison between the asking price from the seller and the average asking price in the market. Say, for instance, it’s lower than or on a level with the average market price, then the seller is serious about getting the property sold.
Meanwhile, if the asking price is higher compared to the average market price, there’s a huge possibility that the seller is just checking the market to figure out the type of offers they can get and not serious about getting the property sold.
- Asking Price – There’s a huge difference between an actual selling price and an asking price. Your agent can obtain the asking price from the seller and if he or she is really good, you can also get some information about it.
- Actual Selling Price – Having some knowledge about the property’s actual selling price is one of the best ways to obtain a good bargain while investing in the real estate market. In most cases, I have witnessed a difference of 10% to 15% between the average selling price and average asking price.
In order to determine the actual selling prices for similar properties in the last couple of months, it’s important to have a competent and reliable agent by your side. Such data are not publicly available on any portal and not all agents go the extra mile to investigate as well.
- Historical Information – If you notice, I love to stress on this specific point. That’s because history can tell us a lot about a certain property so it’s something that you shouldn’t ignore. While the steps above will provide you with an evaluation price based on current market and guidance in purchasing a property in Dubai, it’s vital to know how the similar properties traded in recent years. This information can come in handy when it comes to making the final decision.
6th Step: Price Negotiation
We’ve come to the phase that will set the course of your property buying experience. I have created the above process for purchasing a property in Dubai because I am the one to negotiate on behalf of all my clients.
The length of time it takes to finish the deal can vary. At times, it can be done quickly when both parties mutually agree to the terms, while there are instances where it can go on for weeks. There are also those that happen in a very gentle and amicable manner while some get heated. What’s more, sometimes, negotiations can either be a success or a failure.
The bottom line to get the best deal is clear—you need a reliable and experienced agent who not only can provide valuable advice on the best price for your purchase, but can also take a stand on your behalf.
7th Step: Signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)
Once the property’s price has been negotiated and both the parties have mutually agreed upon a figure, this is when everything must be put into writing. As your agent, I will prepare the MoU for you. This document stipulates all the details of the transaction, which includes a date when the ultimate transaction must take place.
According to the rules of the Dubai Land Department (DLD), both the seller and the buyer must exchange a security cheque that amounts to 10% of the negotiated sale value. In case any party wishes to revoke the deal upon signing the MoU, the other party will have the right to keep the 10% security deposit as a compensation for the loss of their effort and time.
8th Step: Finalize the Transaction
While signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), keep in mind that the date of transferring the property in your name is already decided. Below are the steps you need to undergo on the given date.
- Drop by the Trustee Office – Visit the agreed upon or nearest trustee office along with your real estate agent. The seller must also be physically present at the location.
- Submit the Required Documents – Once you reach the trustee office, hand over your documents to the trustee officer. Normally, such an office has a quality control process where you will be required to initially submit the documents at the reception. Once the documents have been reviewed, you will then be enabled to meet the officer.
- Validation – The details provided in the MoU along with the identities of the buyer and the seller will be verified by the trustee officer.
- Cheque Submission – Upon verification of information, the buyer must submit the following:
- 10% cheque provided by the seller
- Manager’s cheque in the Trustee Office’s name (AED 2,000 if the value of the property is less than or equivalent to AED 500,000; AED 4,000 if the value of the property is higher than AED 500,000)
- Manager’s cheque in the Real Estate Agent’s name (2% of the sale price)
- Manager’s cheque in the DLD’s name (4% of the sale price)
- Manager’s cheque in the Seller’s name (total sale price)
- Get the Title Deed – After the above cheques have been exchanged, you will be asked by the trustee office to wait some time (normally 30 minutes to 1 hour). Once the title deed is issued by the DLD and sent to the trustee office, it will be stamped and handed over to you.
9th Step: Register the Utilities
The process of buying a property has been completed in the step above. However, since you’re a new landlord, there are certain things you need to do and take care of after the purchase. Check them out below.
- Registration for Dubai Electric and Water Authority (DEWA) – This pertains to a government entity providing water and electricity connection. Upon purchasing your property in Dubai, it’s a must to visit the nearest DEWA office in order to get the connection registered in your name.
You will also be required to pay a security deposit of AED 2,100 if you have purchased an apartment in the emirate. Moreover, ensure to carry your passport and title deed copy for this registration.
- Registration for the Chiller Company – Some buildings in the city, especially the new ones, have a separate firm that provides AC services. Your agent can guide you regarding this, so there’s nothing to worry.
- Registration for Gas – Depending on the master community’s guidelines, several new buildings in Dubai are provided with gas connection by certain companies. If the property you have purchased in the emirate is in a building where gas stoves are prohibited, then skip this step. However, if a certain firm offers gas connection, you will most likely have to register with them as well.
- Building Maintenance – As we have discussed above, there is an exclusive firm that provides management services in every building. Once you become an owner, you become part of the Owners’ Association (OA), so it’s compulsory to pay a maintenance fee for the whole year in advance.
The amount collected by all owners is given to the management company to maintain the buildings’ common areas. In case you prefer to hire a maintenance company for your property, check out the step below.
- Property Management Company – For sure, you don’t have the time and resources to spare when it comes to chasing after tenants and maintaining the property by yourself, especially if you don’t reside in the UAE.
In this case, you can entrust the job to a reputable and reliable property management company, which will take care of depositing rental cheques into your account, take care of leasing, liaising with the tenants on your behalf, performing any required maintenance work inside your property.
There you go. Hope the steps and tips mentioned above will help you make the right decision when it comes to purchasing a property in Dubai. Good luck and congratulations in advance!