Can I buy a home in Dubai?
In May 2002, the Dubai Crown Prince, General Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, issued a decree allowing non-Emirati citizens to purchase residential property within certain areas of Dubai on a freehold basis. More than 2 years later, the resulting surge in demand is showing no sign of abating.
The new opportunity:
Sheikh Mohammed’s announcement was welcomed by the many thousands of expatriate residents of Dubai and frequent overseas visitors, who had grown to love the United Arab Emirates and admire the remarkable infrastructure and opportunities offered by the dynamic city state of Dubai. Furthermore, full rights of residency were to be offered to foreign owners of homes provided by selected leading property development companies.
The Government of Dubai has ensured that high quality standards would be maintained and keen competition in the interests of buyers from the outset by granting permission to build to a carefully screened selection of highly competent and financially strong organizations. In this way, it was ensured that the expectations of new homeowners could be met or exceeded.
As the Dubai residential property scene is still very young, the majority of the homes available are newly built. In most cases, you will be buying from plan, and the property handover will take place 2-3 years later, providing ample time to organize your funding.
Why buy in Dubai?
It is often said that buying a home is often the biggest financial decision in a person’s life; and the experience can also rank very high on the emotional scale! Whether you are buying for the first time, trading up or seeking a second home, it is still likely to be a very significant decision. However, most of the key factors influencing your decision will be similar, wherever in the world you decide to buy: location, build quality, local services and amenities, security and investment potential.
Many people choose to buy in Dubai because they already live here and wish to move on from rental accommodation. If you are one of these people, you will be well aware of the attractions of switching from rental accommodation to investing in your own home. Thousands of families and individuals have been delighted by the opportunity to escape the previous necessity to rent and to see their hard-earned cash contribute towards their future prosperity.
If you live overseas, a business trip or a relaxing holiday (or perhaps an energetic holiday!) in Dubai may have stimulated your interest in this Emirate. You might have friends or relatives, who already live here and have shared their experiences with you. Alternatively, you may have seen Dubai featured on TV travel shows or read about the destination in lifestyle magazines.
The Dubai difference:
By many means, overseas visitors are discovering the quality of life available in Dubai. Some might be seeking a comfortable and convenient base for family holidays. Others recognize the benefits of owning a home here as a potential retirement retreat. Also, many business people have identified the pure investment potential of owning property in Dubai in order to earn a favourable rental income.
A world of choice:
Whether you are looking for a holiday or retirement home, or purely interested in an overseas re-rental investment, there are obviously many alternative locations to consider around the world, so what makes Dubai different and special?
What can I buy in Dubai?
A range of options:
There are now over 20 new residential communities in Dubai, which are completed, partly completed, or announced and on sale, in which anyone can buy a home. These are located throughout the city area within a radius of approximately 20 kilometres of the central business district, where the Sheikh Zayed Highway runs alongside the emerging Burj Dubai district and Dubai International Financial City.
A dynamic environment:
The Dubai property development sector has risen energetically to its challenge and, as a Dubai home-seeker, you will discover an impressive range of options:
You can live in a luxurious villa at ground level or a futuristic apartment building, which soars hundreds of metres into the blue Dubai sky.
Choose between city living, waterfront locations, desert settings, championship golf courses, an equestrian centre or even a clutch of man-made islands.
Whether your tastes favour an Arabic, Spanish or New York architectural and decorative theme, you are likely to find many intriguing alternatives.
Property portfolios: Indeed, if you were unable to select between the many styles of home on offer, but are lucky enough to have sufficient funds not to have to choose, there is nothing to prevent you from owning 2 or more Dubai properties!
The cost of Dubai property
There are homes to suit every budget and everyone’s needs should be satisfied, from a young bachelor, seeking a functional, studio apartment to a millionaire seeking a grand and exclusive mansion on its own hilltop.
The Dubai property market currently comprises a majority of new homes, so the local developers will be able to provide you with pricing information at the launch of each new project, 2-3 years in advance of its completion date.
Naturally, as time progresses, the secondary residential property market is taking shape in Dubai. Already, there is a large and active real estate sector to handle private sales. As well as finished homes, it is possible to transfer an uncompleted property between owners, and there is a flourishing market for those who wish to take earlier occupancy.
Is a Dubai home a good investment?
Taking a long view:
Only you can decide this, however, any reputable financial advisor will tell you that your home should be considered as a medium to long-term investment. Also, the enjoyment and experiences gained over many years of home ownership should make buying a home far more than a basic financial decision. To date, the level of demand for Dubai residential property has resulted in very respectable uplifts in the value of properties already on the market.
Emerging market factors:
Dubai is generally recognized as offering superior value on a dollars-per-square-foot basis, compared with most modern and desirable urban and semi-urban locations around the world. In this respect, buyers may still benefit from Dubai being a "new" home owning location, however, this particular secret is being shared around the world very fast!
Are there facilities and amenities?
Residents of Dubai have become accustomed to having a good range of recreational facilities on their own doorstep, provided at no additional charge under the terms of their rental agreements. So, the challenge for the home ownership sector is to set the quality standards ever higher!
Your property research will almost invariably reveal a long list of “extras”, in terms of exercise and leisure opportunities. You can normally expect free access to swimming pools, gymnasia, tennis and squash courts. In addition to this, certain residential communities are custom-built to share their space with superb golfing and equestrian facilities. If you decide to live by the water, there will also be mooring facilities for boating enthusiasts.
Shopping & dining:
It is customary for residential communities to be provided with a full complement of retail and dining outlets, ranging from high fashion to convenience stores and chic restaurants to fast food takeaways.
The larger developments will often also have five star hotels nearby, offering further recreational, eating and shopping options. Indeed, should you decide to set up home within the Burj Dubai community, you will be within easy access of the biggest shopping area in the world, the Dubai Mall. Also, for a special treat, you can book a table in one of the sky-high restaurants of the Burj Dubai tower, the tallest building in the world.
To learn much more about what Dubai has to offer residents and visitors, visit the About Dubai section of this website. Dubai is truly a city, which knows no limits when it comes to having fun!
How does the purchase process work?
There is fundamentally no difference in buying a home in Dubai, compared with most other long-established property markets.
Cash or mortgage?
Whether the vendor is an individual or a development company, the buyer may choose whether to pay cash or obtain mortgage finance, to spread his payments over time; non-Emiratis are allowed to finance their home in Dubai over any period, up to 15 years. To satisfy this need, several specialist mortgage companies and local banks now offer loan packages.Previewing new homes:
If you live in Dubai, or are able to visit, you can take the opportunity to take in some of the developers’ dedicated presentation centres, where you can take as much time as you wish to view scale models of the new communities, review the property brochures and ask questions from hospitable and helpful members of staff over a soft drink.
Should you be an overseas investor, the leading developers all maintain user-friendly, English language website, to present their credentials and to keep you posted of any new releases of homes. All of them provide telephone, fax and email contact details, for you to make specific requests or register your interest as a potential buyer.
What other costs should I consider?
Owning a new property in Dubai will generally require the owner to contribute an annual service charge, which will vary, according to the level of amenities provided by the developer. Within a specific community, the scale of these charges will normally relate directly to the overall floor area of your home.
You may also choose to customise your home to suit your specific needs and enhance its value further. For example, many people have installed a private swimming pool in the garden of their villa, or made modest modifications. Permissions to conduct such modifications are generally not difficult to obtain, providing safety factors are addressed and your changes do not detrimentally affect your neighbors, their properties, or the visual amenity of the neighborhood.
What if I don’t plan to live full-time in Dubai?
Should you intend to spend most of your time outside Dubai, you need not worry about the maintenance or security of your home, as there is an extensive support infrastructure already in place. There is also a substantial residential rental market, which caters for the majority of the Dubai population.
For those owning a villa with a garden, there are many facilities management companies, providing reliable services with good value for money, which can keep your surroundings in prime condition. Many families also install their own swimming pool, which can also be regularly maintained under a straightforward service agreement.
As you would expect, the needs of overseas owners have encouraged many full-service, property management companies to establish a presence in Dubai. Some of these companies are homegrown and some are affiliates or associates of international organizations. For the ultimate peace of mind, serious consideration of this “one-stop shop” option is recommended.
How can I learn more about buying in Dubai?
One should never undertake any property purchase decision lightly, as there is far too much at stake! Whether you are buying in Dubai, Paris, New York, Mumbai or Shanghai, the ground rules are basically the same: before committing yourself, make sure that you have sufficient information, from a broad cross-section of sources, to help you make the right decision for your unique needs.
There is a huge volume of global interest and information concerning Dubai and its emerging home ownership opportunity, but why not begin to familiarize yourself via familiar and trusted sources. Below are some suggestions of how to get started with your own research.
You will find that the worldwide web provides a superb reservoir of information and experiences from which you can benefit:
- Visit the websites of the major Dubai property development companies to see the range of properties they can offer.
- Take a look at the latest offerings from Dubai real estate agents to gain an idea of asking prices in the secondary market.
- Review the information posted online by mortgage lenders, legal firms, insurers and other service providers.
We have experienced consultants ready to help you with any queries you have about buying properties in Dubai and the rest of the Emirates.