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The Expat Guide to Purchasing a Property in the UAE

Are you a British expat looking to move to Dubai or the UAE and buy property? This guide will get you started on the right track.

Buying a property in the United Arab Emirates for an expat is a process that requires a set of procedures to ensure a smooth and a fast purchasing process. Luckily for all of UAE expats, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai’s Crown Prince issued in 2002 a freehold decree that allows foreigners to buy, sell or rent property freely in areas such as Sheikh Zayed Road, Jumeirah, Jebel Ali, parts of Bur Dubai and the area where Dubai connects with Abu Dhabi.

Recently we at PSS International have seen an increase in the number of customers moving from the UK to the UAE who are looking to purchase a property. We have therefore put together this complete guide to purchasing a property.

Here are 8 things expats living in the UAE should follow when buying a property.

1- Identify the purpose of your purchase

Many expats look to invest in properties in Dubai and UAE. Hence, if you are an expat who seeks a buy-to-let kind of property then you should consider areas in the emirate with high rental yields instead of areas with luxurious properties and high vacancy rates. Do a proper research on areas with high demand to ensure a profitable investment that keeps you wealthy for longer periods of time.

2- Seek the assistance of a professional

On the other hand, if you are house-hunting then you must either purchase a property directly from the developer or seek the assistance of expert real estate agents. The most important thing here is to take all the time you need before you settle on a house. Which means to go and inspect houses for sale, walk in the neighborhood and get to know the neighbors.

Real estate agents in the UAE can provide you with neighborhood guides to find out more about different neighborhoods from amenities and facilities provided by each neighborhood to crime rates, price range and whether they provide you with the same lifestyle that suits you and your family or not.

3- Get familiar with the purchasing process

The purchasing process for an expat isn’t complicated only if you know what to do exactly. First of all, to purchase a property in UAE, a buyer has to be over 21 years old.

Second, a verbal offer is then put and once accepted by the seller; a sales contract is then drafted.

Third, the buyer secures his finances and either pay a down payment with scheduled monthly installments or pay in cash where the deed is then transferred.

 4- Secure your finances

After doing the proper research about properties prices; a buyer should make sure he can afford to purchase a specific house. If a buyer is unable to pay in cash, then he will need to apply for a mortgage. To obtain a mortgage in UAE, buyers will have to put down between 20 to 50 percent of the payment for their property in cash.

Most lenders will calculate an expat’s average monthly income to make sure the buyer is able to secure the mortgage. Other lenders will require an insurance in the form of another property. To apply for a mortgage, a buyer will have to present passport and copies, proof of residence, proof of address, salary certificates or evidence of regular income and bank account statements for three to six months.

5- Have the property inspected

Before signing any contracts, you should get the property inspected first as some landlords deliberately hide that fact that the property needs major maintenance.

Which is why it is essential to hire a professional who fully inspect the property before sealing the deal as once the contract is signed, any maintenance will be your responsibility.

6- Be aware of the property tax rates

Even though the United Arab Emirates doesn’t impose any kind of taxes on income to companies and individuals living in it, but it does impose taxes on properties.

If an expat is purchasing a property, there is the one-time fee of the land registry fee/tax which is 4%. However, if an expat is renting a property; a tax of 5% from the tenancy contract value is then paid.

7- Check the developer’s history

Whether you are purchasing an off-plan property or a resale property from a private seller, you should do a background check on the developer itself. You can do that by checking the company’s portfolio, paying a visit to the construction site and know more about the work quality, materials, and layout.

8- Carefully check the contract

Signing a sales contract in the UAE is accompanied by legal documents that may be a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) or a Sale and Purchase Agreement between the two involved parties.

Which is why is a buyer has to carefully read and understand the contract terms and conditions. It is preferable at this stage to hire a local property lawyer who is familiar with all the legal requirements and obligations included in the contract.

Moving to the UAE or Dubai?

If you are relocating from the UK to UAE or Dubai, PSS International will be able to help, no matter if you sending a few boxes or moving the entire contents of your house.

We have regular sailings to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates so check out our Dubai removals page for more details or request a quote for shipping baggage or boxes.

What You Need To Know About Moving To UAE


"Dubai Skyline on 10 January 2008" by Imre Solt - Dubai Construction Update Part 10 Page 9 at Post 168.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dubai_Skyline_on_10_January_2008.jpg#/media/File:Dubai_Skyline_on_10_January_2008.jpg

“Dubai Skyline on 10 January 2008” by Imre Solt – Dubai Construction Update Part 10 Page 9 at Post 168.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dubai_Skyline_on_10_January_2008.jpg#/media/File:Dubai_Skyline_on_10_January_2008.jpg

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The UAE is currently the third-most popular country among UK expatriates, ahead of Australia and Canada.

Britons should feel right at home in this nation of expats, who benefit from breath-taking scenery and tax-free incomes. The country climbed seven places between 2008 and 2013, jumping from 10th to 3rd most popular location for UK migrants as many sought a tax-free buffer against the unfavourable job market back home.

However, relocating to the UAE from the UK is a big change but offers a priceless experience for many. Differences in language, customs, religion and climate are all a challenge but those willing to tackle these initial issues will no-doubt find Dubai very welcoming, considerably more diverse and much more affordable than the UK. In addition, the thriving expat community offers vast opportunities for a great social life with an array of sporting options.

Media reports about Dubai are often misrepresented, for example, you can buy alcohol in bars and specialist venues that have a liquor licence granted to non-Muslims.

Expats don’t have to adhere to an Islamic dress code and you can buy some meat in the western section of some supermarkets. As rumour has it, kissing in public is generally frowned upon, as are offensive hand gestures that could even land you in jail.

While visas for permanent residency can be easy to obtain for those working full-time, it’s virtually impossible for those without. With this in mind, you really shouldn’t consider a move to Dubai unless you have a job which will lead to a work permit and in turn lead to residency, the right to rent an apartment and access healthcare and good schools for your children.

Dubai was previously seen as a mere business hub for the oil industry but today those revenues make up less than 7% of its income with the city radically diversifying the economy to include real estate, construction, trade, financial services and tourism.

This gradual transformation has slowly seen the landscape and population change with Dubai skyscrapers continuing to shoot up, piercing the stunning blue skyline while man-made islands create many new real estate and tourism opportunities. Citizens have also become a minority, as foreign workers are attracted to sustain the boom. Opportunities for people moving to Dubai are therefore plentiful and many have taken advantage of the low crime rates, enhanced spending power and reasonable property prices.

In fact, moving from the UK to Dubai will make you wonder how you ever managed to survive in a country as expensive as the UK. Everything from food to basic utilities is cheaper. Although you will find yourself paying a premium for alcohol and most fashion items.

Dubai is generally safer than most of the large UK cities and property is on the whole more affordable, although traffic can get very busy at times. Culturally, Dubai doesn’t have the most thriving music or arts scene although the Sheik Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a good place to start and there are occasionally huge outdoor music concerts featuring popular acts from around the globe.

There are also nature reserves, scenic parks, a well-curated museum, a racecourse, some of the world’s most ambitious modern architecture to admire and golf courses aplenty.

Dubai is largely desert with temperatures exceeding 40 °C in the summer months and no rainfall except occasionally from December through to March. The city’s property prices crashed dramatically after the global financial crisis though the other Emirates offered assistance in 2012, mitigating the effects of the property crash and leading to prices rising again.

Until 2006 there wasn’t the option of freehold for foreign property owners but that has since changed. If you are looking to buy a property, taking out a mortgage can be a complicated affair so obtaining professional advice is recommended. It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are currently no property taxes in Dubai.

When it comes to educating your children, there’s a great deal of choice. School fees are a lot more affordable than the UK and those families looking for a British curriculum have around 60 schools to choose from. The American curriculum is also well represented with over 20 secondary schools teaching it including the very exclusive GEMS World Academy, the Dubai American Scientific School and the International School of Arts and Sciences. There are also two German, six French, six Iranian, eight Pakistani, 40+ Indian, Bangladeshi, Swedish, Japanese and Russian schools with special needs schooling being rarer and costing considerably more. Furthermore, many large foreign universities have also set up institutions at the Dubai International Academic City located 40 km southeast of the centre of the city.

Research has found that nearly half of expats who move to the UAE encounter problems because they do not have sufficient practical information about their new home. PSS International Removals are UK’s first choice for moving overseas and we have successfully helped thousands of people move to UAE. We are able to offer you a professional service including additional visa, employment, banking, currency, pension transfer, pet shipping, tax rebate, education, and flight and property advice through our network of trusted partners.

Visit http://www.pssremovals.com to find out more or contact us for a free quote now!