How to Buy a Property in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) real estate market has become one of the most sought after in recent times. It is certainly one of the most popular Middle Eastern investment opportunities for Western investors. When you look at the raw statistics, it isn’t too hard to understand why.

While there are some, often striking, differences between Eastern and Western cultures, the UAE has a reputation as an international country. Dubai, for example, is one of the world’s top tourist destinations. Sure, you will be entering into a very different culture when you visit the UAE. But it is a culture that Westerners adapt to much more easily than many assume.

For real estate investors, there is no doubt that there are opportunities abound in the UAE. If you plan on seizing any of these opportunities, you will need to understand how buying property in the UAE works.

Identifying Property

The first thing you need to do is identify whether there is actually a property in the UAE that you want. Popular choices for foreign buyers include apartments, townhouses, and villas. Often, these properties will be located in their own secure complexes. These complexes also host communal leisure facilities, such as gyms, swimming pools, and sports courts.

It is only since 2002 that foreigners have been allowed to buy property in the UAE, and there are still some areas where foreigners cannot buy property. You therefore need to research any areas you are considering very carefully to ensure they are suitable.

Just like when you are searching for properties domestically, the internet is the best place to begin your search. There are many agencies and estate agents out there who can help you find a property in the UAE. Once you have decided where you hope to purchase your property, look for agencies who specialize in that area. Owing to its reputation, there are perhaps more Dubai real estate agencies than there are for other parts of the UAE.

Eligibility Requirements

Since the change of law in 2002, it has become much easier for foreigners to buy and rent in the UAE, however, you will still need to meet certain requirements. Naturally, you will need a valid passport to use as proof of identification. You don’t need to possess a residency permit in order to buy property, but obviously you will if you want to live there.

You should also be aware of the existence of the ‘Property Holders Visa’. This visa is offered by the government of the UAE, and allows foreign investors to stay in the country for a period of up to 6 months while they investigate potential investment opportunities. However, in order to qualify for the visa, you must be investing in a property worth at least 1 million dirham (around £200,000). You can also only apply for this visa as an individual, not on behalf of a business.

In determining how much money you will need for your investment, remember to account for additional costs on top of the cost of the property itself. There will be purchase prices, deposits, transfer fees, fees to the estate agent, and a variable exchange rate to account for.

While it is not a legal requirement, it is a good idea to hire a qualified lawyer to help you navigate the paperwork. Making mistakes when it comes to the paperwork can be costly and problematic further down the line. It is therefore worth the cost of a lawyer, especially if you can easily afford one on your current budget.

Buying ‘Off-Plan’ Property

If you are intending to buy your property off-plan, you will need to submit a reservation form. This form will explain the basic terms and conditions associated with the sale. This will include any information relating to payment plans, and the contact information of all the parties involved.

You will need to submit your passport along with your reservation form. You should also keep in mind that some developers are selling leasehold titles, as opposed to freehold titles. In these cases, the title will be valid for the duration stipulated in your agreement.

Buying Resale Property

Buying property in the UAE for the purposes of resale requires a memorandum of understanding be signed by both the buyer and the seller. This document will set out the agreed upon terms and conditions of the sale, which includes the final purchase date. This memorandum is not legally binding, but it is a requirement if you want to purchase a resale property.

Buying property in the UAE works a little differently to what many people are used to, but it is still a relatively simple and straightforward process. As long as you take the time beforehand to carefully research your options, and make sure that you don’t commit to anything until you are sure of yourself, you should find the whole process nice and straightforward.

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