Property buying guide for UAE
Article 2 of 5
Overseas property
Buying and registering property in the UAE
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Buying and registering property in the UAE

The United Arab Emirates treats residents and non-residents equally with regards to taxation, making it a particularly attractive country. There is no tax on property purchases, annual real estate, capital gains, inheritance and gift or income and corporate revenue for both individuals and companies.

Main property types in the UAE

Freehold Leasehold (Usufruct) Commonhold
  • unconditional property
    ownership with full rights
    to land plot and structure;
  • owner registered
    on the Land Register;
  • foreign buyers restricted
    to designated areas.
  • long-term lease periods
    from 9 to 99 years;
  • property taken on lease
    from a freeholder (owner);
  • all improvements are property of
    the freeholder when the lease
    runs out.
  • most often applies
    to apartments;
  • owners pay fees to maintain
    the common areas;
  • same rights as
    a freeholder.

Restricted freehold rights on foreign buyers

The property type is a determining factor for foreign citizens buying in the UAE. If they are not from a member state of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf* (GCC), they have restricted freehold purchase rights.

Non-GCC citizens can buy freehold property in designated areas of Ajman, Dubai, Ras al-Khaimah and Umm al-Quwain emirates. Buildings and land outside the designated areas can only be leased for up to 99 years.

Freehold property cannot be purchased in Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

In Dubai foreign citizens can buy freehold property in designated areas like Palm Jumeirah, Emaar Towers, Greens and International City.

As of 2003 in Dubai and 2006 in other emirates foreign citizens have the right to purchase land (freehold) on which new buildings have been built. In other cases, they will have to make do with a leasehold.

* Colloquially known as the “Gulf Cooperation Council”

Property registration requirements

Foreign individuals need to present their passport and the original title deed to register the property purchase.

Legal entities must provide:

  • certificate of incorporation/trade license;
  • memorandum and Articles of Association (original and certified translation);
  • certificate of Good Standing (original, issued within six months of the sale);
  • certificate of Incumbency (original, issued within six months of the sale);
  • shareholders’ passports (copy);
  • resolution approving the purchase (original);
  • original power of attorney and attorney’s original passport.

Off-plan property purchases require developers to provide the buyer with:

  • land ownership certificate;
  • building permission from the Land Department;
  • escrow account number;
  • contractor agreement.

How it works in Dubai

Real estate in Dubai is one of the most popular destinations for foreign buyers heading to the UAE. The process is quite straightforward and has six steps.

1. Find a property. A local real estate agency offers properties that match your preferences as a buyer. The city, district and your budget are the main things to take into account. Once you have found one or more options that interest you, the agency will arrange viewings. Don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent any questions about the property, payment procedures or potential discounts.

2. Reserve the property. You will have to pay an initial sum of AED 10,000 (Arab Emirates Dirham), about $2,700, to reserve the property. This ensures the property is taken off the market and guarantees the final sale price. This payment is subtracted from the total price. In order to remit these funds, you will have to provide a copy of your passport, copies of credit/debit cards from both parties and a completed permission form.

3. Sign the preliminary sales agreement and pay the deposit. This contract contains information about the floor space, price, location and other property details. When you sign this document, you will need to make a down payment worth 10% of the property value and agree on future payment terms with the seller.

4. Obtain the disclosure statement (particularly important for off-plan). The disclosure statement contains all key features of the property, the unit plan, materials used, construction schedule, etc. If the property does not comply with the plans set out, the developer is liable for damages and losses to the buyer.

5. Sign final sales agreement and pay the remaining amount.

6. Get the title deed. The certificate of ownership is issued within three days of the signing and should be registered with the local court within 7–10 days.

Additional costs and fees

Registration fees are divided equally between the buyer and seller who each pay 2% of the property value. This applies to every property type excluding industrial warehouses.

Title deeds cost AED 250 ($68) to issue, paid by the buyer.

Real estate agency commission varies from 1 to 5% of the property value.

Legal fees are about $500 (AED 1,800–2,000) an hour but UAE law does not require a lawyer to facilitate property transactions.

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    Property buying guide for UAE
    Article 2 of 5
    Tranio’s managers offer advice on buying real estate in the UAE
    Anna Boyarchukova
    Anna Boyarchukova
    Head of the Residential Department
    +44 17 4822 0039
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