A Step by Step Guide to Buying a Property in Dubai

buy a property in Dubai

Dubai is a city where exceptional infrastructure, commercial and residential property developments and well-planned layouts are in place. Its resilient nature makes it unique and always help it get back on the growth trajectory. With its strong comeback and economic growth after a momentary global pandemic pause – Dubai real estate market has become more attractive for potential property buyers and investors.

The market was projected to rebound from the second half of 2021 as prices for Dubai properties started increasing – thanks to the global event of Expo 2020 followed by visa reforms and strong demand from foreign buyers and expatriates looking to buy properties in Dubai.

2021 – A record-breaking year for Dubai real estate sector

Due to the return of international investors and the rising interest of expatriates in buying Dubai properties, 2021 proved to be the best year in terms of numbers of transactions, since 2009. According to the official report provided by the Dubai Land Department (DLD), 84,772 transactions worth over AED300 billion were recorded in Dubai. When compared to 2020, the number of transactions has increased by 65 per cent, while the value of transactions has increased by 71 per cent.

How to make the most from investing in an international real estate market?

Investing in a foreign real estate market is one of the most crucial yet overwhelming decisions that need extensive planning before reaching a conclusion. Moreover, expatriates who want to buy a property in Dubai should make sure it meets all their needs. Let’s decipher what the international investors must know from the step-by-step process to costs involved and from legalities to understanding the types of properties, ahead of buying a property in Dubai.

Properties Sale Retention Dubai

Step 1 – Organize your finances

Before finding properties to buy in Dubai, expatriates must know how much finance they need to arrange. Home buying decision can be influenced by emotions but potential buyers should not fall prey to them. In this way, the heartache of ditching your dream home after discovering the asking price, can be avoided. This is only possible when you have a clear idea about your budget to buy properties for sale in Dubai.

It is essential to begin the property search in Dubai after getting the finances in place. This will give you confidence while searching for properties for sale in Dubai and negotiating with sellers. After all, you are not making an emotional decision and exactly know what you can afford.

Hidden costs: When it comes to budget, a down payment is not the only cost that you should consider but there are several other costs associated with the property purchase in Dubai. The actual costs are:

  • DLD fee
  • Title deed issuance fee
  • Admin fees
  • Agency fees
  • NOC charges
  • Mortgage fees
  • Mortgage insurance fees

Step 2 – Set criteria and start your search

Being an expatriate, before you tend to invest in properties for sale in Dubai, you must know what kind of property you are looking for and set certain criteria to start the search. You must know about your requirements including the types of properties, number of bedrooms, access to facilities and distance to the key destinations in surroundings. You must also know the factors that you cannot compromise on and the factors that you can be flexible about. 

For instance, if you are interested in buying apartments in Dubai and you know your budget as well, you must start the search by shortlisting the communities that fit into your budget, what kind of amenities you will get, what the views will be offered and which developments are there.

Step 3 – Leasehold vs. Freehold properties for sale in Dubai – Understanding the difference

If you are an expatriate looking to buy a property in Dubai, you must know the different types of property ownership in this emirate. Dubai was the first emirate in the UAE to allow foreign buyers to own property in designated areas. The difference between freehold and leasehold property in Dubai is the buyer’s right. 

Leasehold properties: For leasehold properties, you will get property rights for a fixed term, a maximum of 99 years. However, you will not own the property’s land because the ownership goes back to the landlord.

Freehold properties: Freehold property buyers can enjoy absolute ownership of the property along with the land, it’s built on. Unlike leasehold properties, the property owner can sell and let the property as per his discretion. 

Step 4 – Find the right agent

It is of paramount importance for an expatriate to find a professional and experienced real estate agent in Dubai. Buying a property in Dubai is an incredible investment decision but you must work with the best team and experts to get along this investment journey. It is also important to develop a cordial business relationship with your estate agent to make sure he brings up an honest conversation and finds the best available options that can match your investment goal.

It is of utmost importance to work with professionals as only they can provide you with an insight into the property market, its current trends, available options, and area’s performance in terms of capital appreciation and share first-hand knowledge to help make a well-informed investment decision. What better can be than the opportunity to work with team HFRE? We have complete liscenses, understand the market thoroughly and have a proven track record.

Did you know? Anyone can buy property in Dubai, regardless of nationality and location. Yes, it is not compulsory to be a UAE national or UAE resident to purchase a property in Dubai.

Step 5 – Conduct your own search

properties for sale in Dubai

Though you are working with an industry expert but conducting a market search on your own can bring a clear idea about the area, its facilities and its neighbourhood. It will also help you paint a realistic image of the property you are going to buy and keep you at bay from creating exaggerated fancies.

You can also gauge the distance from your chosen property to the nearby civic amenities and facilities like Metro station, schools, kids’ playground and healthcare facilities. You can also evaluate the market price of the properties available for sale in the given area.

Step 6 – Protocol and procedure to buy a property for sale in Dubai for expatriates

Once you have gone through all these steps and made up your mind – it’s time to begin the property buying process. Once you have finalized a particular property and agree on all terms and conditions after negotiating the asking price – both parties (seller and buyer) will have to sign an Agreement for Sale and/or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). At this point, you need to pay a certain amount, usually 10 per cent as proof of commitment.

Before continuing with the transaction, the seller will have to pay all outstanding charges to the developer. After that, he can apply for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the developer in order to obtain the right to sell the property. If the expatriate is purchasing a property with a mortgage loan, the lender bank will have to be involved in the process.

Mortgage Broker

Before even beginning the process, you must contact the bank through a mortgage broker or bank representative. Get a pre-approval letter, before even searching a property. It will help you comprehend what you can afford. You must thoroughly understand the procedure of buying a property in Dubai through mortgage

The home loans must be registered with the Dubai Land Department (DLD) to obtain legal validity. Once these matters are settled, the DLD will issue an NOC, after which the ownership will be legally transferred to the new owner. Both parties will have to be present at the DLD office to swiftly complete this transaction.

The property purchase amount must be paid to the seller on the transfer date. Following all these protocols and procedures, a new title deed will be issued in the name of the new owner. 

Documents needed to complete the property buying process in Dubai

It takes almost 30 days to complete an average property process, from the date when the Sales Agreement was signed. To complete the transaction within the given timeframe, you must have all the documents readily available during the process. Expatriates need the following documents:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of residency status (If you are living in the UAE)
  • Property title deed
  • NOC issued by the developer
  • Bank’s pre-approval mortgage letter
  • Mortgage settlement documents
  • Seller’s service charges clearance letter
  • A bank statement is also required to support that you can afford the property purchase.

Costs associated with purchasing a property for sale in Dubai

Though one of the major attractions to invest in Dubai real estate sector is its tax-free nature. However, there are certain costs when buying a property for sale in Dubai. Have a look at the following table as it will give a real picture of associated fees and costs and help you set a budget.


Fee / Tax in AED

Land Registry Tax

4% of property value plus AED 540
Registration charges for properties up to AED 500,000 in value 2,000
Registration charges for properties above AED 500,000 in value


Real estate agent’s fee Around 2% of property value
Valuation fees

2,500 to 3,500

Oqood Contract Fee (if purchasing from a developer) 4% of property value
Conveyance Fees

6,000 to 10,000

Note: Other fees include initial deposit, mortgage registration charges, and mortgage processing fees – if you need a mortgage to finance your purchase. 


Once you’ve followed all these steps, the agreement is signed by both parties, and payment has been done. We’ve completed the property transaction. It all may seem challenging but right on the completion day. It all seems worth it because you have just become the owner of a property in Dubai. 

It’s time to celebrate!

If you are genuinely looking for apartments, villas or townhouses in Dubai, let team HFRE help you in the property ownership journey. WE don’t just the property options. We also offer you complete market knowledge, and help you know about all major communities of Dubai. It will help you make a better decision.

Chat With An Expert

We pride ourselves for keeping our customers above and beyond everything else; thus promise to offer you exceptional levels of customer service. All you need is to connect with us at +971 4876 2473 or feel free to write us your query at info@hfre.ae

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