I want to buy a property in Dubai but don't know what to buy or how long the process takes. So can you tell me how long I will have to wait from putting an offer down to having the front door key to the house? And what pitfalls will I face along the way? SS, Dubai
Buying a property, whether it is to live in or as an investment, is a multi-faceted process because of the many ways one can buy. The easiest but longest way, in terms of time, is to buy off-plan. This starts with an online registration process.
Then, if successfully registered, you can arrive at the developer's sales centre on the allotted day to select the unit by paying the initial deposit of about 15 per cent. You will then have a two to three-year wait to receive your keys, depending on the build time.
Buying a property on the secondary market is much quicker but there are still several factors to consider. Finance is at the core of this but not just from the buyer's perspective. The financial status of the seller also comes into play: for example, does the seller have a mortgage on the property they wish to sell?
Any end user or investor who wishes to buy a property where the seller has a mortgage needs to be in a position to discharge the seller's mortgage before collecting their title deed at the land department. The actual buying process is straightforward enough. What can complicate matters are external forces such as: is the property tenanted, what is the seller doing in terms of onward buying (creating chains), what finances are in place or required, is the buyer or seller abroad, therefore power of attorneys will be required (attestation) etc?
Any buyer or seller embarking on the property market should in the first instance use a Rera-registered broker or agent. Despite the land department and Rera's best efforts there are still too many unlicensed brokers in the market. You have been warned.
Buyers' due diligence is also paramount. Do your homework, and remember to ask lots of questions of the agent, seller and possibly neighbours of the property if possible.
Once a buyer's offer has been accepted, the seller's agent will produce the memorandum of understanding (contract) which outlines all the costs and responsibilities of both parties. The buyer at this point pays a 10 per cent deposit in the name of the seller but the cheque is normally held by the seller's agent.
Depending on whether the purchase is via a mortgage or cash, the next step is for the buyer's bank to carry out a valuation. They inspect the property, commenting on its condition and to ensure that it is security enough for the bank to lend. This is done by an external chartered surveyor company which reports its findings back to the bank. Once the buyer has final approval, the seller will apply for the No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the developer. This can take up to seven working days to complete and, typically, this document has only a two-week lifespan. Once both parties have final approval from the bank, NOC from the developer and clearance letters from the seller's bank (if applicable), then an appointment is booked at the land department to complete the transfer.
The whole buying process, from offer to collecting keys, can take as little as 10 to 14 days if the transaction is cash and the seller has no outstanding mortgage. However, it can also take up to 45 days if there are mortgages involved.
On the day of transfer, buyer and seller, along with the agents and the bank representatives, will meet at the land department in Deira. When all processes have been registered and the buyer has paid 2 per cent plus Dh315 to the land department and, of course, the purchase price to the seller and commission to the agent, they are given the title deed in their name along with keys and access cards. They then become the proud owner and a part of the successful Dubai property market.
Mario Volpi is the managing director of Prestige Real Estate in Dubai and has worked in the property industry for the past 29 years. Send any property questions to firstname.lastname@example.org