Since legislation was changed in 2002, it has been far easier for foreigners to rent and buy property in Dubai. It is, however, still necessary to present a valid passport to prove your identity, but you are not required to have any type of residency permit before you are permitted to buy property. If you do wish to live in the Dubai apartment you purchase, you will need to apply for a visa and residence permit though.
A six month visa designed for property investors, the "Property Holders Visa" allows potential buyers to stay in Dubai for a full six months to explore investment opportunities at leisure. In order to qualify, the selected property must have a value exceeding one million Dirham (approximately US $272,000) and the property must be bought by a private individual, not a company.
The majority of foreign property buyers will probably be looking to buy off-plan, but with many prestigious developments now completed, there are actually quite a few resale opportunities in Dubai that should be of interest to both buy-to-let landlords and relocators starting a new job in Dubai.
In order to buy a Dubai resale property, you must agree terms with the vendor and these terms must be recorded in a Memorandum of Understanding. This basic documents states the terms and conditions agreed between the two parties, including the date of the final purchase or completion date of the sale. Although not a legally binding document, it is a necessary first step towards buying resale property in Dubai.
As soon as the Memorandum of Understanding is signed by both parties, the purchaser must pay the deposit, usually ca. 10 per cent of the total purchase price. Buyer beware: the deposit you pay is typically non-refundable, unless there is a valid reason why the vendor cannot progress with the sale. Changing your mind about the property selected could therefore be an expensive error!
The payment of a deposit is also the point when commission payable to the real estate agent becomes due. This tends to be somewhere between 2 per cent and 5 per cent of the total purchase price.
As soon as both agreement and financing your purchase are in place, the next phase, completion, can be undertaken. Foreign buyers must pay 100 per cent of the purchase price BEFORE the deeds can be transferred, the same as with off-plan purchases. The best way to do this is to make an appointment at the Land Department, where all relevant paperwork must be presented. This Land Department meeting will typically consist of the real estate agent, the buyer and a representative from the bank financing the purchase.
Be sure to select only Dubai properties that were built by approved developers. The UEA government publishes a list of these, and they include for example Diamond Developers Co. Ltd, K M Properties LLC, Falcon City of Wonders LLC, Remah Holding Limited and JAD24 Investment Ltd, who all have a track record for producing stunning developments that sell well.
The latter, JAD24, were responsible for the Celestial Heights development in Dubai's Jebel Ali district, a popular mixed development typical for modern downtown Dubai. The imposing triple tower complex boasts contemporary architecture that provides commercial and residential tenants with cleverly designed spaces for comfortable working, living, shopping and entertainment. The apartments are equally suited for long- and short-term lettings.
Located in the up-and-coming new centre of Dubai, next to Dubai waterfront and Dubai World Central Airport, the triple tower development comprises of Polaris, a 22-floor commercial tower with free zone business license and Orion, a 20-floor residential tower, and the much smaller Capella, a 10-floor residential block on Sheikh Zayed Road.
The complex is close to a metro station with access to four light rail stations, comes with an Escrow trust account approved and regulated by Dubai Land Department, and boasts two gyms, two swimming pools and more than 20 boutique outlets, as well as ample parking for all commercial and residential units.
Rentals here are between 55,000 AED and 67,000 AED per annum for apartments featuring between 750 and 850 sqft of floor space (typically one to two bedroomed apartments), plus running costs and taxes. To rent an apartment with 1,500 sqft of floorspace (typically a three bedroom/three bathroom property) costs ca. 105,000 AED per annum in Celestial Heights' residential towers. All apartments enjoy stunning views.