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Buying and Selling a Property in Dubai

​Buyers and sellers of properties in Dubai should have complete knowledge about the rules regarding land transactions, including issues related to ownership transfer. As a potential buyer or seller, you can assess the market by reviewing the land transactions on a weekly or monthly basis and checking that the broker, agent or developer is accredited and licensed with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), a section of Dubai Land Department, which is the sole government entity responsible for registration, organization and promotion of real-estate investment in Dubai.

Expatriates can purchase freehold property in Dubai either off-plan or on the secondary market. You can search from several web portals in Dubai to look for property listings to buy or sell. Most real estate companies also have websites while the daily newspapers also list property to buy and sell.

Most off-plan property requires you to pay an upfront deposit of 10-15% and the balance to be paid in installments. While off-plan property is cheaper because the it may be partially built or not yet built, due diligence must be done including ensuring that the developer is RERA registered with a trust account (escrow) for the designated property.

Another alternative is to buy ready property on the secondary market. You need to check if the owner has fully paid the property or with any outstanding mortgages, lives in the country or abroad, has clear title deed, whether there is an existing tenant, who the broker/agent is and what commissions and other fees have to be paid beyond the sale price. Just like anywhere else in the world, you must consult property and legal experts, ask lots of questions and do thorough research before purchasing. Also note that as per By-Law No. (85) of 2006, commissions & fees to brokers/real estate is only to be paid after the contract/Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is signed. Brokers must be licensed by Land Department, adhere to a code of ethics to be recognized as a good agent and carry a valid Broker’s ID card. The standard agency fee brokers charge is 2% of property value, so find out in advance, be prepared to negotiate with registered brokers. A good real estate agency will normally include the broker fee in the advertised sale price of the property.

Once you have agreed to purchase the property at a particular price, a contract/Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is drawn up which outlines all costs and responsibilities for buyer and seller, including deposit to be paid (usually 10% of the property value payable by cheque in the name of the seller but held by the broker).

If the buyer does not have ready cash, the buyer asks his/her bank for a valuation of the property to get financing. The seller applies for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the developer – usually takes about a week, assuming there are no outstanding mortgages or pending maintenance fees. The NOC is only valid for 2 weeks and rates vary from developer to developer ranging from AED 1,000 to 5,000.

All these documents along with buyer, seller (or their notarized Power of Attorney), their real estate agents (and bank representative where financing is from bank) must be presented to Land Department to pay balance amount, agreed commission to the real estate, complete the transfer, and create a title deed for the new owner, as well as receive keys and access cards. The buyer pays 4% of the property value to Land Department for secondary property, or 2% if property was bought direct from the developer. In addition, buyers also pay an administrative fee of AED 4,000 to Land Department. Once transfer is complete, the new buyer will need to reconnect utilities which requires deposit payments ranging from AED 1,000 to 5,000.
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