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UAE Property Buying Guide

GETTING STARTED

The property market in the UAE has matured rapidly over the past 10 years. As a result, there are numerous resources to aid in your property search. Most people begin their searches through websites, which provide large numbers of property listings. With robust search tools, they allow you to filter results by price/rent, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, location and more.

Additionally, if you’d like to get a sense of general market trends, you can read property market reports by firms such as Cavendish Maxwell, Cluttons, Colliers and Asteco. These are valuation firms registered by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), an independent body which regulates valuation standards. Their reports describe trends in the UAE property market, such as the areas and developments where prices are rising and by how much. 

Once you have narrowed down your search to a few properties, it’s time to begin property viewings. To set up an appointment,you can call the contact number listed on online property listings. It’s useful to have a camera to take pictures of the property and any features which concern you. Your memory can be fickle, so it’s useful to have a permanent record of your visits. 

Once you’re at the property, go through a checklist of relevant criteria. Here are a few to get you going:

  • What’s the noise level?
  • Does natural light stream through the windows?
  • How’s the traffic entering and leaving the area?
  • Are there any physical flaws in the property (cracks in the walls, broken hinges, non-functioning locks etc.…)?

And, a few additional things to be aware of:

  • Owners are not obliged to pay for utilities when properties are unoccupied. As a result, you might have to view properties with no water or electricity connection. 
  • Gardens are often dead when you first see them.
  • Properties may be in less than perfect condition, with dusty floors and peeling paint.

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A PROPERTY

The community
If you have a family, it’s critical to choose a living space that fosters your children’s development. An area with parks, football grounds, bike lanes, swimming pools and others allows your child to leave the TV and smartphone and get some healthy exercise. So much of the UAE life takes place indoors; it’s critical to live somewhere your family can take a walk or run around or throw a ball. Areas with more greenery generally make more attractive living spaces. 

In Abu Dhabi, these open spaces can be found in the newer developments, on Saadiyat Island, and Al Raha Beach. 

In Dubai, communities such as the Meadows, The Springs, The Lakes, Emirates Hills and the greater Jumeirah area have become popular for families because they offer suburb type living, with plenty of open spaces. 

Distance to good schools
If you have young children, it’s important to live near good schools, or to send your children to schools that have a robust bus system. In Abu Dhabi, the government has taken the decision to send the majority of schools to the outskirts of the city, so more and more families are moving to the Khalifa City, Al Raha Beach area. In Dubai, the better schools can generally be found dotted around the Jumeirah area, on the stretch from Dubai Marina to Dubai Mall. 

Traffic
Oh, the cause of such stress and frustration! It’s important to consider how long you’ll actually be spending on the road every day. Throw an accident into the mix, and be ready for a long commute. Traffic time can build up, with you spending hours every week just getting to and from work. With more and more people moving to the UAE, the traffic is becoming an increasing concern. As a result, increasing numbers are moving to the outskirts in order to avoid the general hustle and bustle. In Abu Dhabi, this means outside the main island, in areas such as Al Raha Beach and Al Reef, while in Dubai, this means more people settling in areas such as Jumeirah Village Triangle and Circle, Motor City, Sports City and Dubailand. 

Physical environment
Do you prefer the serenity of tree-lined suburbs or the hustle and bustle of the city? In the UAE, there are a wide variety of communities, with different vibes. You should search and find one that suits your preferences. The high energy buzz of Dubai Marina is very different from the calm of The Gardens. 

Public transportation
Sometimes, it gets too much. You don’t want to suffer through the smoke and dust, the noise, the erratic motorists, and unpredictable build-ups. To alleviate traffic pain, the UAE has a number of public transportation options which include taxis, buses, and the Dubai Metro. Most communities are accessible through transportation links, but it is still important to know how well-linked your community is.

Distance to a mall/shopping center
A second home for many UAE residents, malls provide many of a household’s domestic, leisure and culinary needs. However, many communities recognise that it’s inconvenient for residents to make a long trip outside the area just for milk and eggs. As a result, you’ll often find smaller retail outlets and supermarkets inside communities. Make sure you know how far you’ll have to go for your basic house needs.

Property area
In the UAE, there are variations in the way property areas are measured, with up to a 25% discrepancy based on the methods of measurement. So don’t take the listed area at face value. Visit the locations and compare the sizes yourself.

HOW TO GET THE BEST MORTGAGE IN THE UAE

Contact Abu Dhabi Finance (ADF) at 800-233 or email us at info@adf.ae now and allow us to guide you through the process.

The Mortgage Process

Approval in Principle:

  • One of our highly skilled Mortgage Advisors will conduct a comprehensive introductory meeting with you outlining the steps involved in the Mortgage Application Process.
  • The Mortgage Advisor will request that you submit relevant documentation to allow ADF to assess your eligibility for a mortgage.
  • Once your application has been assessed, your Mortgage Advisor will then confirm how much you may be eligible to borrow. ADF will issue an Approval in Principle (AIP) letter which will be valid for 60 days and which  can be presented to the seller, indicating your willingness to buy.  This will give you the comfort to finalize your purchase through a Developer or Real Estate Agent.
  • The cost involved in obtaining a mortgage is outlined in our Schedule of Standard Fees and Charges.
  • When you have selected your property and we have conducted an evaluation, ADF will then issue your Loan Offer.

The Buying Process:

When purchasing a property, you can buy directly from the developer, directly from a seller, or through a Real Estate Agent, and your purchase may be on the Primary or Secondary market:

  • The Primary Market is when you purchase directly from the developer. The price is generally fixed and usually inclusive of all costs.

    a. Once you have selected your property you will complete a reservation form and pay a booking deposit typically between 5% and 10%.*
    b. Within four weeks of your reservation you will receive your Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA), which is the formal contract for your property. The SPA will contain a copy of your unit floor plan and a stage payment schedule.

    *Booking deposits may vary from Developer to Developer and Agent to Agent.

  • The Secondary Market is where your purchase a property which has been pre-owned and is not directly through the Developer. This is normally done through a Real Estate Agent. Prices on the Secondary Market can be negotiable and are determined by the original price paid by the seller, the seller’s financial circumstances and current market conditions.

    a. Once you have agreed a price you will then sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and pay a non-refundable deposit of between 2% and 10%. A date for transfer of the unit, from the seller to the buyer, will be agreed at this stage. The transfer is normally complete within 4 weeks of signing the MOU. 
    b. You will then pay any monies due to the seller, the developer and the Real Estate Agent. With Secondary Market purchases the standard agent’s commission is 2% and the standard transfer fee is up to 2% (4% for Dubai). 
    c. Normally, you will receive your SPA from the developer within one month of transfer. If the property is under construction the buyer will continue to make stage payments to the developer as per the SPA.*

    *The terms of the MOU may vary from agent to agent.

NOTES:

It is not a requirement under UAE law for a lawyer to assist in the purchase process. If you do wish to consult a lawyer, there are several firms in Abu Dhabi that can offer you independent advice. 

It may be advisable to consult a lawyer when drafting a will. When buying property, a will can help ensure your estate is distributed according to your preferences. For help, you can enlist the services of will-writing companies.  Note that only certain lawyers are authorized by the Government to write wills in the UAE. They have a certificate of recognition which you may want to request to see.