Buying Dubai Real Estate for Foreign Buyers

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Many people are interested in purchasing property in Dubai as foreign buyers. Overall, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has very transparent rules regarding such purchases, and the market is highly regulated. However, that doesn’t mean the buying process is complex for expats or outside investors. Here’s what you need to know about buying Dubai real estate as a foreigner.

Can Foreigners Buy Property in Dubai?

Foreign ownership of property in Dubai is allowed and has been since approximately 2002, with other rule changes arriving in 2006. However, there are specific rules that non-citizens and expats need to follow. Primarily, foreign buyers are limited to making purchases in particular zones that are designated as foreign ownership areas.

What Are Foreign Ownership Areas?

Foreign ownership areas are specific regions within Dubai where non-residents and expats are permitted to purchase property. The zones are selected by the ruler of Dubai and include areas like Burj Khalifa, Emirates Hills, Business Bay, and other zones.

Buying property outside of the foreign ownership areas isn’t permitted without specific types of residency or citizenship. As a result, foreign buyers need to ensure that properties they’re interested in fall within the designated zones.

What Does the Purchase Process Look Like?

Generally, the purchase process in Dubai isn’t any more complex than you would see in the United States. Some people begin their journey by conducting real estate searches online, while others prefer to mainly do that in person while working with a real estate agent.

After finding a suitable property, some paperwork is required. Typically, that includes a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and a No Objection Certificate (NOC). Those essentially make up the formal purchase contracts, and both the seller and buyer must agree to the stated terms and sign at the appropriate time in the process.

For those interested in buying property in Dubai with a mortgage, arranging for proper financing is essential. In many cases, those looking for a mortgage will need to reside in the UAE for a minimum of six months and must have a suitable source of income. Credit checks are also commonly part of the process, and down payment requirements may be higher than for similar mortgages in the United States.

Usually, the purchase process also involves various checks and verifications. For example, researching the property history and conducting inspections is the norm, even for cash buyers.

Tips for Buying Dubai Real Estate

Generally, it’s best to work with a real estate professional who’s registered with the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), which is part of the Dubai Land Department. They’ll be able to assist with finding properties within a foreign ownership area and can help with navigating the purchase process.

When pursuing a property, due diligence is essential. Verify the property details, see if there’s currently a mortgage, ensure the seller is the legal owner, and complete inspections before moving forward. That allows you to make sure that everything is as it should be prior to completing the purchase and informs you of any situations you may need to navigate along the way.