A Complete Guide For Expats To Buying Property in Dubai - Prices & Process

Tue, 2021-02-09 18:57
Author: Sadiq Suleman

From an investment perspective, the Dubai real estate market could be defined as a marketplace where anything and everything is for sale. This also includes residences and luxury properties. A lot of people have been looking for investment in the real estate of Dubai. This is because of the massive investment potential that it provides.

There are several properties that are available for the purpose of investment in Dubai. This includes villas, condominiums and apartment buildings ad single family homes. As a result, if you have decided to make an investment for having Property in Dubai, you must take out time to investigate the important available options.

One of the best possible things for the purpose of investing in the real estate of Dubai is that a lot of available condos, properties, apartments and residential types are available that can fulfill all of your individual requirements. This also means that individuals are not directly forced to settle for having properties that may not be suitable for their personal budget or preferences.

Dubai’s real estate market has also significantly attracted attention of all the overseas investors that do prefer investment for high return and high income properties. Such properties can also be found in other places such as Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Lake Towers and various other famous locations. You should also check out for relevant home loan rates. 

Types of properties in Dubai

From a residential perspective, there are primarily three property types that you can buy as a foreigner in Dubai. Each of these properties usually correlates to a different style of home or land within Dubai. However, you should thoroughly assess the market when looking for property for sale in Dubai.

Freehold properties

From a residential perspective, freehold property has been highly sought by foreigners that are thinking to invest in UAE or if they plan to buy flat in Dubai. Individuals living in UAE have access to freehold properties and could be rented, sold and passed inheritance if they do require.

The type of freehold property has also been associated due to the relatively undeveloped parcels for land when compared with homes or apartments. However, it is common for home mortgage that are pre-fabricated homes for making arrangement for a freehold property.

Commonhold properties

Another type of property that can be purchased by potential investors in Dubai is commonhold. They are primarily condominiums in various other parts of the world. Purchasing a commonhold property provides you the individual right for buying, selling or renting the property for the purpose of inheritance.

This is similar to a freehold property. Commonhold properties, however, are very similar to apartments. As a result, owners have to make a payment of fees for property maintenance for the building as well as its common areas. They are usually owned by a real estate or property developer.

If you are looking to purchase a freehold property in Dubai, you will have to purchase this through a property or real estate developer such as DAMAC group. They are approved by the UAE government.

Usufruct properties

A common type of arrangement for property within the UAE is called usufruct. This is primarily regarded as a lease for long-term investment. Individuals have the option to do whatever they require by purchasing usufruct property. Such leases usually have a life that could go till 100 years. It all depends on whether or not you want to purchase residential or commercial property as well as your negotiation skills.

Identify your motive for buying property in Dubai

One of the most essential aspects that an individual must consider before identifying their motive for purchasing a property in Dubai is to evaluate whether you want it for investment purpose or personal use. This is without doubt an essential factor for your individual motive for purchasing property in Dubai. The motive for identifying personal property in Dubai is explained as follows:

Purchasing property in Dubai for investment purpose 

Due to the fact that real estate market of Dubai is popular for many benefits. They include high rental yield, high market capitalization and transparent process for business. Most foreigners or expatriates that want to invest in Dubai focus on buying properties that could provide them massive return on their investment. A thorough assessment of the market helps to buy apartment Dubai at a good rate. 

Purchasing property in Dubai for personal use

Over the years, Dubai has become a business hub. The city is now home to several expatriates that have come from various parts of the world. Dubai based properties are often regarded as highly expensive and also out of reach for several foreigners or expatriates that work as blue collar workers.

But, such essential things have now changed. These individuals that are employed or have a personal business in Dubai have inclined towards purchasing their personal property and not renting them out.

If your personal motive for purchasing property in Dubai is to reside then you can certainly consider hospitals, supermarkets, restaurants and schools. This is certainly an essential individual experience for you as you can raise your family in such a progressive and developed city. You should regularly check Dubai property prices. 

Factors to consider before investing in Dubai’s real estate


One of the most essential attributes that you should consider before investing in the real estate of Dubai is location. However, it also comes with a significant cost. For instance, individuals that do want to invest in Dubai’s luxury property should have an idea that investment in some of the prime locations in the city such as Dubai Marina has a particular set of facilities associated with it.

It also provides various opportunities to have an improved lifestyle. Due to this reason, the core objective should be to buy property in Dubai that could be beneficial for investors. This can provide various benefits associated with a good investment property.

This becomes relatively cumbersome for selecting. However, the core attribute that really provides benefits to investors is long term yield on investment. 

Research and Analyze Market Stats

It is certainly difficult to select a specific location when a wide range of options can be highly tempting. For catering this essential issue and for gaining the best return on your investment, it is essential to start your personal research.

As an individual, you can also read about current trends, predictions and patterns on financial investment. Newer projects for investment in Dubai emphasize on pleasing the investor. The intense your research, the more benefits you can extract from UAE’s real estate market.


Before you invest in Dubai’s real estate market, you should evaluate the overall tenure for which you plan to remain in UAE. This is quite essential as it will help you to evaluate the total value that you can derive from your potential return on investment. However, if you are not sure of your possible commitment or long-term plans in UAE, renting your property is better.


A norm that has been applied globally for purchasing real estate property is affordability. An individual’s housing expense on a monthly basis must not increase more than 25% of their total income. It is also pivotal when it comes to paying upfront fees.

This could be nearly 9% of the property’s overall price of purchase. Being an owner of a real estate property in Dubai, you would need to keep track of the maintenance fees and payment of the annual service charges. 

Rental yields 

If you are thinking of buying property or if you want to buy a flat in Dubai, you should focus on converting your property in Dubai to gain monetary returns. This will help you to evaluate and assess if the potential rental income is adequate for covering your repayment, mortgage as well as maintenance expenses to buy apartment in Dubai.

Residence visa 

The real estate properties that are valued AED 1 million or above in the UAE, you may well be required to obtain a residency visa by the means of having ownership of a real estate property. This could well be subjected to fulfill specific guidelines.

There are mainly two types of residence visas that are usually available in UAE. One is a six-month multi-entry. The other is a two-year visa for residency. Owners of real estate property also have an option for sponsoring a residence visa for their family.

Property in Dubai that has been valued AED 5 million or more and has no specific mortgage value attached to it and has been retained for 36 months or more can help potential expatriates or foreigners to get a residency visa of 5-years or more. This depends primarily on specific conditions for eligibility.

Costs required for the purpose of purchasing a property in Dubai

There are specific costs required that are needed when purchasing any property within the Dubai:

Fees for NOC: This is usually in the range of AED 500 to AED 5000. It can be paid directly to the real estate or property developer

Fees for registration: Nearly 4% of total purchase price of property that can be paid to DLD

Commission of the real estate agent: This is nearly 2% of the property’s price of purchase

Apart from the potential costs, there could also be extra charges. They could be applied to the office of the property developer as well as the DLD. They will most probably be the fees for community/building that is required for the payment of the real estate developer.

Moreover, it is also advisable that you should have any idea of all the potential costs in advance. It is also essential that you must be able to set your budget in the relevant manner.

If you do plan for taking out a mortgage, it is essential for making sure that the mortgages are only available for foreigners or expatriates that are residents of Dubai. Other guidelines that should be considered by central bank for the purpose of taking a mortgage are as follows:

  • Foreigners or expatriates that want to invest in a real estate property that is valued nearly AED 5 million has an option for borrowing nearly 75% of total value of the property. On the contrary, citizens of the UAE have the option to borrow nearly 80%.
  • For real estate properties that are valued AED 5 million or more, initial or first time buyers have an option to borrow nearly 65% of total value of the property. On the contrary, citizens of the UAE have an option to borrow nearly 70% of the value of the property. 
  • Expats that want to invest or purchase a second property have an option for borrowing nearly 60% of the total value of the property.
  • If you plan to purchase properties that are off-plan, a deposit of 50% is needed through expatriates as well as citizens of the UAE.
  • The debt-to-income ratio of the buyer must not increase 50% or more
  • Period of the mortgage must not increase by more than 25 years. This because there is an age limit (This is usually in the range of 60 to 75 years)
  • Foreign citizens have an option to make an application for a specific loan amount that should not exceed their yearly revenue or income by more than seven times 

Purchasing a property through real estate developers in Dubai 

For the purpose of purchasing property in Dubai through a real estate developer, you can verify their individual reputation before you provide them with an amount or sign a particular contract. There are several real estate developers in Dubai that do have different fee structures.

As a result, it is essential for you to get assurance of the potential costs prior to putting your signature on any legal document. This method is indeed one of the safest for making sure that you have made a solid and viable investment. Apart from that, there are various other things that you may do for creating a background before selling a property:

  • Collect comprehensive data in written form for all fees that are required to be paid along with the potential due date.
  • It is essential for making sure that a developer has successfully registered with a relevant regulatory organization. Moreover, it should also successfully make verification to register.
  • Cross verify the rates on other properties that are similar. This will help you to make sure that you have paid an optimum amount.
  • Evaluate the former developments. This will help you to view what other buyers have said regarding their personal residential properties.
  • You should appoint a solicitor that does possess a global experience for purchasing real estate. This will help you to elaborate as well as ask important questions. 

Before you are able to verify the real estate developer, you should make that all of the aforementioned points apply to the real estate agents or property developers. As a result, it is essential for you to take sufficient time out.

This will help in making sure that they have been licensed in a correct and appropriate manner. Moreover, you must also assess and review what the experience was of your previous clients before making any financial investment.

Mortgage financing and home loan options for buying property in Dubai 

Foreigners or expatriates living in the UAE have an option to buy property in Dubai. They possess an option to find different mortgage financing facilities provided by various banks and financial institutions in the UAE.

Before investing, however, it is essential that you do find out residential mortgage that can fulfill your individual motive. Let’s have a detailed look at the mortgage rates that are currently provided by various financial institutions to buy property in Dubai: 

Emirates NBD Bank: One of the most prominent financial institutions of Dubai, Emirates NBD provides mortgage and house loans of almost AED 15 million. The house loan and mortgages are offered up-to 70% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio. Apart from that, there is also availability for having a facility of pre-approval.

HSBC: Another financial institution that provides home loans as well as mortgage options to potential investors and buyers for real estate in Dubai is HSBC. Expatriates and foreigners with income of AED 15,000 per month can apply for mortgage or home loans in UAE. 

Mashreq: Another financial institution in the UAE that provides mortgages and home loans in UAE is Mashreq. It provides loans for expatriates and foreigners living in the UAE. Mortgages as well as home loans are provided for employed and self-employed expatriates having a monthly income of AED 15,000. 

ADIB and DAMAC properties alliance

For providing best mortgage deals to buyers of property in UAE, DAMAC properties has made a partnership with Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) to provide some of the best mortgage deals for individuals that are looking to purchase a property within the UAE.

These properties by DAMAC are provided by the means of one of the best available plans for mortgage in Dubai. Individuals that want to purchase a property can look out for various financial deals provided in collaboration by DAMAC and ADIB. 

With a span of nearly 7 years for the property, the alliance of ADIB and DAMAC has an interest rate of only 1.99%. This is also applicable to all of the properties brought by expatriates and foreigners in interested to purchase property through DAMAC.  Moreover, this service by DAMAC does not have any processing or evaluation fee. It also makes sure that low cost is involved for loan acquisition when purchasing a property. 

Citizens of UAE have an option to have access to mortgage payment. It allows them to avail home loans or mortgage payment for almost 85% of the total value of any property they want to purchase. The foreigners and expatriates do have an option to obtain loans of almost 80% of the property’s total price. Overall tenure of the loan or mortgage will be 25 years. 

Guidelines for attaining high return on investment (ROI) in UAE

Within Dubai, usually apartments tend to provide high yields on rents when compared with villas and townhouses. This is mainly due to the population in those areas belong to a low income fraternity. As a result, their investment for homes is focused mainly towards homes that are small and affordable.

Individuals can select apartments that are small in size if they want to buy property in Dubai. This could include 1 bedroom or studio apartments in communities that are relatively affordable and have a good infrastructure. They also usually have access to important facilities such as healthcare, transport, retail and education.

Reselling smaller apartments is usually a swift. Moreover, it provides a value that is higher when compared with other properties that may be larger in size. This is primarily due to the fact that a significant population of the expat population in Dubai has the option to purchase and afford them when an investor focuses on releasing equity.

The yearly maintenance charges that are payable to DLD they are based towards service charges of RERA. The maintenance index could have a material impact on the total ROI. The essential index also focuses on a particular amount in their area. It also fluctuates within the specific community.

The property fees or payment charges could be directly gained through the website of DLD. Potential investors can focus on the charges applicable for the selected community prior to making any possible investment.

How to apply for a mortgage in the UAE

If expatriates or foreigners in UAE want to apply for a home loan or residential mortgage, they have an option to contact a financial institution directly or get sound advice regarding investment from a potential real estate developer such as DAMAC properties.

A financial advisor or mortgage broker can prove to be an asset for expatriates or foreigners living in Dubai. Their advice could be highly beneficial for getting an idea of the possible fluctuation within the market. It can also allow individuals to have an idea of the best possible circumstances within the fraternity if they want to buy property in Dubai. 

Documents required for purchasing property in Dubai

It is essential to note that purchasing property in Dubai does work in a similar manner when compared with other methods. As a result, you must find a property and agree to a particular price for that. After that, you may also expect to sign the contract.

This will allow you to establish better contracts and avoid any potential miscommunication in the near future. The transaction for acquiring the real estate may only take a very short period. This is because the usual sale takes merely 30-days when the agreement is signed for purchase until the sale has been completed or finalized.

You have to comply with these important conditions if you are interested to have an idea of Dubai properties for sale in Dubai.

It is essential that you do sign a memo of understanding and also submit a deposit amount. This amount could fluctuate as it depends on property value. However, you could well be expected potential payment or deposit of nearly 10% of value of property. To go ahead with property purchase, you should have the following documents:

  • Providing a passport with validity 
  • Residency status proof for illustrating that you are living in Dubai
  • Evidence of current home address
  • Salary certificate or proof of recurring income 
  • For providing evidence that you can afford the evidence, you have to provide bank statement

Property taxes in Dubai

From a residential point of view, Dubai is famous for having one of the most generous laws for taxation across the globe. Within that context, real estate also has no specific exception. Most of this mainly depends on the fact if you want to purchase property through the means of a real estate developer.

Moreover, it also depends on the fact whether you require a mode of mortgage financing. The table below illustrates some of the usual costs you may be required for to buy property in Dubai. However, not all of the charges are related or based upon sales of a property.

Property taxes in Dubai
Fee or TaxRate in AEDApproximate GBP Value
Land Registry Tax4% of Property Value Plus AED 5404% of Property Value Plus £115
Registration Charges for Properties up to AED 500,000 in Value2,000£420

Registration Charges for Properties Above AED 500,000 in Value

Estate Agent FeesAround 2% of Property ValueN/A
Valuation Fees2,500-3,500£530-£740
Oqood Contract Fee(if purchasing through a developer)4% of Property ValueN/A
Conveyancing Fees6,000-10,000£1,250-£2,100

Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s)

Can a foreigner buy a property in Dubai?

From a residential perspective, having a foreign ownership of a property in Dubai is allowed in areas that are designated to be freehold. Moreover, foreigners and expatriate residents that did attain freehold rights of property ownership for their property don’t have any restriction, usufruct rights or leasehold rights for nearly 99 years.

Is buying property in Dubai a good investment?

Indeed it is. Dubai provides higher yields on rent when compared with several other mature real estate markets. On average, investors can attain rental yields of nearly 5-9%. Prices of property per square feet are lower when compared with many other cities around the world. This does make Dubai a very affordable location for having their personal primary real estate.

What is the future of Dubai real estate?

Due to the fact that coronavirus pandemic has still been going on UAE and is being handled confidently and swiftly, we can safely state UAE is indeed a safe place to invest and purchase property. 

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