With property prices in Dubai about half what they were just a couple years ago, there might be an opportunity to find some good bargains. Dubai has relaxed restrictions for foreign ownership, no sales or capital gains tax and a government that promotes transparency and ethics in real estate transactions. The following article from International Property Journal explains what you should know when buying property in Dubai.
Until the last decade’s construction explosion, Dubai was not known as a friendly market for foreign investors. Only in recent years has the state relaxed restrictions and created an environment to fuel the Emirates’ unprecedented development. Foreigners are now permitted to own property, “subject to the approval of the Ruler,” with freehold ownership available in specified zones.
To a certain degree, the government is involved in every transaction. Buyers still need to submit a “request” for a title, and can only proceed after receiving a “no objection” report. And the laws and regulations are subject to change—one of many reasons it’s always best to move forward with caution in the Emirates.
That said, in some ways, the system is easier than many other countries. There are no capital gains or sales tax. And transactions fee typically range between 3 percent and 7 percent, according to Global Property Guide, which is not out of line with other international destinations.
The key point of contact is the Dubai Land Department, the “official registry, valuer, auctioneer, regulator, information provider and property overseer.” It’s a thoroughly modern agency, with a Web site in English, and most transactions are conducted online. Deals are now conducted by contract, “replacing the former system which was based on trust, and sealed with a handshake,” the site notes.
In 2007, the government established the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, part of the Land Department, in order to help bring some measure of transparency and ethical standards to real estate transactions, offering consumers an avenue of recourse against unscrupulous agents or developers. Among other things, it oversees rental agreements, owners associations and advertising standards. The RERA also publishes a list of approved brokers, developers and projects, and advises buyers and investors to only deal with agencies on the list.
- The RERA has set up trust accounts that must be used for all off-plan purchases, providing a new level of security to pre-development transactions.
- Property owners and their immediate family typically obtain renewable residence visas for life.
- Sales registration fees are typically 1 percent of the value of the property for the seller and 1 percent for the buyer, “if purchase is conducted below market rates.”
- All reputable brokers should be able to produce a brokers registration card. Buyers should also ask for a seller’s passport and match the signatures to the sales contract, in addition to making sure that all owners of the property sign the sales agreement, the government site warns.
- Three specific forms of local contracts often come up in discussions, but won’t affect most buyers. A Musataha contract applies to a land development lease; Al takharij is a service to help families split inherited property; and an Ijarah is a lease-to-own contract.
This article has been republished from International Property Journal. You can also view this article at International Property Journal, an international property news and information site.