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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.

A guide to property price trends in key expat locations

image: House by Rene Schwietzke

image: House by Rene Schwietzke

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile.

What’s it all about? You’re working every day to pay for your lifestyle. The mortgage repayments, insurance, car lease, utility bills, childcare. The depleted chunk of change that goes into your savings every month is not earning interest. Are you missing a trick? Couldn’t it all be simpler and, let’s face it, more fun?

If you’re in this mind set, it’s time to stop, get off the hamster wheel, and have a rethink. Bold ideas may start to form about doing the unthinkable: quitting your job and moving to a place where the cost of living is so much less that you could work to live (having lots of fun adventures along the way), rather than live to work.

Is it a fantasy? Or can it really be achieved? That depends on where you choose to lay your hat. The grass isn’t always greener when it comes to property prices overseas – and a cheap or non-existent mortgage is going to be the key to you finding your idyllic work-life balance. So where in the world should you go?



While still a popular expat destination for Brits, Australia is not the place to go for cheap property. Eye-watering house prices in all its major cities have hit the headlines in recent times. As of December 2016, mortgages soak up 42% of average income in Sydney, 37% in Melbourne and 23% in Brisbane.


Renowned for offering better work-life balance, more space and the opportunity to get back to nature, Canada also benefits from having English as a mother tongue, so expats feel at home more quickly. Recent reports show that, for the first time in over four years, the average house price in Canada is declining, albeit marginally. This trend is evident in the Toronto and Vancouver regions, popular with expats, however property prices here remain the highest in the country. Average property prices in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick are significantly lower.


In the year up to March 2016, foreign buyers paid $102.6 billion to buy property in the US, with half of sales occurring in Florida, California, Texas, Arizona and New York. Window shopping for property online, you may spot unbelievable ‘bargains’, but affordability often reflects the lack of local desire to live there. It’s important to research areas, considering economic stability, jobs market, crime rate and frequency of natural disasters to discover possible reasons for lower house prices.


Brits’ favourite, Spain, has obvious attractions including plenty of sunshine, culture, history, and sound infrastructure. One in four overseas property purchases by Brits are in Spain. After a property crash, and subsequent changes to tax rules, which made buying property in Spain more expensive for expats, the terrain has now settled. Property prices, though beginning to recover, are still around 30% lower than their 2007 peak, making them affordable for expats.


Some corners of France have an eternal appeal to British expats, including Brittany, Aquitaine and Languedoc-Roussillon, where traditional homes in pretty villages offer good value for money and a quiet, laid-back lifestyle. UK property buyers also flock to urban areas, such as Paris and Lyon, attracted by career opportunities, but metropolitan living doesn’t come cheap, and property to rent or buy has a steep cost.


If you really want to embrace your inner global nomad, these destinations offer exceptional bang for your buck in the property market:








If you are considering moving abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company, which has specialised in international removals for over 35 years. We are committed to providing a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move for all our customers. Whether you’re sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle, we will ensure that you receive the highest level of care and attention.

Contact us now for a free estimator’s survey, or simply fill in our online moving or baggage quote form.