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Dubai Real Estate FAQs

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 two years later, the resulting surge in demand is showing no sign of abating.

The new opportunity:

Sheikh Mohammed’s announcement was welcomed by 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.

Quality control:

The Government of Dubai has ensured that high-quality standards and keen interest of buyers from the outset would be maintained by granting permission to build a carefully screened selection of highly competent and financially strong organizations. This served as an assurance that the expectations of new homeowners could be met or exceeded.

Timelines:

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.

Global commonalities:

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 & amenities, security, and investment potential.

Dubai residents:

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 should 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.

Foreign visitors:

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 any 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 overseas re-rental investment, there are obviously many alternative locations to consider around the world, so what makes Dubai different and special?

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 Downtown 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 from the many styles of homes on offer, but are lucky enough to have sufficient funds not to have to choose, there is nothing to prevent you from owning two 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.

New homes:

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.

Pre-owned homes:

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. Hence, it is possible to transfer an uncompleted property between owners. What’s more, there is a flourishing market for those who wish to take earlier occupancy.

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 to 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!

Current status:

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!

Standard amenities:

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.

Deluxe extras:

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 Downtown Dubai community, as you will be within easy access to 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 Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world.

Suggestion:

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!

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 spending a holiday, you can take the opportunity to visit 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.

Internet research:

Should you be an overseas investor, the leading developers all maintain a 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.

Service charge:

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.

Optional extras:

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, as long as safety factors are addressed and your changes do not detrimentally affect your neighbours, their properties, or the visual amenity of the neighbourhood.

Absentee owners:

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 to the majority of the Dubai population.

Pool services:

For those who own a villa with a garden, there are many facilities management companies that provide reliable services with good value for money. Hence, your surroundings will be kept in prime condition. Many families also install their own swimming pool, which can be regularly maintained under a straightforward service agreement.

Concierge services:

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 while some are affiliates or associates of international organizations. For ultimate peace of mind, serious consideration of this “one-stop shop” option is recommended.

Universal factors:

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.

Dubai scenario:

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 on how to get started with your own research.

The Internet:

You will find that the worldwide web provides a superb reservoir of information and experiences from which you can:

  • Visit the websites of the major Dubai property development companies to see the range of properties they 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.

Contact Us:

We have experienced consultants ready to help you with any queries you have about buying properties in Dubai and the rest of the emirates.