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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Dubai Land Department to enable fully-digitised real estate transactions

Platform will permit sales and rentals to be conducted remotely, with no need for paper documents

Sultan bin Mejren, director general of the Dubai Land Department, announced plans for a fully-digital real estate platform that will enable sales and rental transactions to be conducted remotely. Victor Besa for The National
Sultan bin Mejren, director general of the Dubai Land Department, announced plans for a fully-digital real estate platform that will enable sales and rental transactions to be conducted remotely. Victor Besa for The National

The Dubai Land Department is creating a ‘smart’ digitised platform that will eliminate the need for paper documentation of sales and rental transactions and other conveyancing by 2020, it said on Monday.

“By removing many traditional limitations in the real estate transaction process, the smart real estate system allows landlords to trade and sell their properties anytime and from anywhere in the world,” said DLD director general Sultan bin Mejren in a statement.

The platform, called Real Estate Self Transaction, or ‘REST’, is part of the government’s Dubai 10x initiative, overseen by think tank Dubai Future Foundation. It aims to place Dubai government entities 10 years ahead of the rest of the world in all sectors, including real estate, transport, public services, banking and more.

It is also a key plank of the emirate’s plans to advance its digital economy, make public bodies more efficient, and further diversify the UAE economy away from oil. Dubai 10x was unveiled at the World Government Summit in Dubai earlier this year.

DLD’s platform, which is intended to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2020, aims to enable “the complete digital management of real estate transactions, eliminating paper documents and reducing brokerage procedures”, the department said.

It will cover property-specific transactions such as buying and selling, as well as real estate market services including mortgages, by linking the property owner directly to the bank through a smart application. Through the system, the bank could offer direct mortgage services, deposit the mortgage amount in the client’s account, or decommission the mortgage directly in the case of sale and purchase procedures.

Neither parties will need to be physically present as requisite data on the property asset will be stored online, DLD added.

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The new digital platform means landlords based in Dubai and overseas could rent their properties and pay for electricity, water and internet bills remotely, reducing the need for property management and service agents, the department added. It could also enable owners to remotely appoint furnishing and decoration companies to manage the interiors process, using digitally stored floor plans.

The news comes a week after the UAE government announced plans to permit 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies in certain sectors – a significant departure from the current rules that require a local Emirati stakeholder to own 51 per cent of any entity based outside a designated free zone.

The new rules, planned to come into force by the end of this year, are intended to encourage new inflows of foreign direct investment. Together with plans to grant visas of up to 10 years to certain expats, the new rules are expected to give greater certainty to investors, including in real estate.

The DLD’s platform would also grant approved third parties access to landlords’ financial obligations, so properties could be managed remotely by owners’ associations (in the case of completed units), or approved trustees in the case of under-construction properties, further easing the transaction and property management process.

“By enabling customers to directly manage all elements of the real estate transaction process online, the platform saves them considerable time and effort,” Mr bin Mejren said.