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Buying Property in Dubai
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A Guide to Buying Property in Dubai and All Over the UAE for Expats

Holo Blog

For those settling in the UAE for longer than three years, buying property in Dubai rather than renting can be a more affordable option and is worth considering.

Reasons for buying property in Dubai

With attractive property prices and flexible payment plans across Dubai, more and more people are looking at buying properties in the UAE.

Property Options for Expats in Dubai

If you are an expat who is in the UAE at the moment, Dubai law states that you have the option to either buy a leasehold property or a freehold property in designated areas within the country.


Buying property in Dubai, according to a freehold contract, gives the buyer absolute ownership over the unit and the land that it stands on. In addition, there are no time restrictions on the contracted ownership.

In accordance with the property ownership laws in Dubai, the Dubai Land Department (DLD) will register the freehold buyer's name as the "landowner" in the registry. The DLD will issue a title deed for the foreigner buying property in Dubai.

The freehold contract is valid in perpetuity. When the owner passes away, an heir is able to inherit it. So essentially, the property will remain in the same family.

Aside from expats buying property in Dubai, foreign nationals who are living abroad may also buy ready-made or off-plan property on a freehold basis that is situated in the designated zones. However, it's essential to only buy freehold properties from government-approved real estate agents or developers.


Buying leasehold property in Dubai essentially means purchasing the right to occupy the property for a fixed period of time, such as a long-term lease. This lease term is usually for 99 years. However, it can be less in certain cases. This form of property ownership in Dubai only grants the buyer rights to the unit, not the land it is built on.

At the end of the lease period, ownership of the purchased property unit reverts to the freeholder, unless the leasehold agreement is renewed.

In which areas are expats eligible to buy property in Dubai?

Expats are able to buy Dubai property in one of the 23 freehold areas. These include Emirates Living, Emirates Hills, Dubai Hills, Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai Marina, and Palm Jumeirah.


As stated above, in Dubai, foreign ownership is allowed in areas designated as freehold. Non-residents (who don't live in the UAE) and expatriate residents may acquire freehold ownership rights over property without restriction, usufruct rights, or leasehold rights for up to 99 years.

Northern Emirates

Expats can now purchase freehold and leasehold properties in Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah, Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain. Most of the accessible property tends to be on a leasehold basis.

Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi allows expatriates to own properties only in the form of villas and apartments, and now even designated plots of land, through the following four main systems:

  • Ownership - Expatriates are issued ownership deeds over residential units for a period of 99 years. This allows them to dispose fully of the apartments and villas that they buy.
  • Musataha - Expatriates may own residential units for a period of 50 years. This period is renewable by the agreement of the parties for a similar period. Masataha contracts permit the owner to enjoy the use, construction, or alteration of the property within the specified period.
  • Usufruct - Expatriates can own residential units for 99 years. The usufruct contract entitles the owner to enjoy the use of the property and its facilities without being able to change them.
  • Long-term lease -A long-term lease is given for an initial period of not less than 25 years.

Securing a mortgage in Dubai as an expat

Expats are able to obtain a mortgage from lenders operating in the UAE and through licensed mortgage intermediaries; however, there are some restrictions. The UAE Mortgage Cap law requires non-UAE nationals to have a cash down payment of at least 20% of the property value (15% for UAE nationals) plus associated purchase costs.

UAE credit report

Launched in 2014, the Al Etihad Credit Bureau (AECB) is responsible for issuing credit reports and credit scores for Dubai residents. The authority collects every individual's credit history, including details about:

  • Repaying loans
  • Mortgage installments
  • Credit card
  • Phone bill payments

The report also includes information about frequently bounced cheques with the resident's name as well as other relevant details.

When creating a person's credit report, a total of 2000 factors are considered. This is a document that indicates a person's payment behavior over time. The credit report also contains details such as an individual's:

  • Full name
  • Emirates ID number

Each of these points is part of a citizen's credit score assessment, and the credit scores are based on these factors. However, the credit score can also change over time with changes in an individual's financial behavior.

Contact a mortgage broker

To get the best deal on a mortgage when buying property in Dubai, contact Holo for assistance.

Gather the required documentation

When buying property in Dubai, you need to make sure that you have the requisite documentation on hand.


For the property transfer to take effect in Dubai, you must have the original identification documents of the buyer and seller (Emirates ID, passport, and visa) ready with you before visiting the DLD office.

Bank statements

The eligibility criteria for non-resident mortgages in Dubai will be different from bank to bank. These criteria can include factors such as the country of residence and monthly income. Some of the documents that are needed to obtain a Dubai mortgage for non-residents will include bank statements and proof of work status.

Choosing the right property to buy in Dubai

It's very normal to be extremely cautious when you're shopping for a property in Dubai. After all, a property is a huge investment, and you'll want to be sure that you're making the best decision possible.

  • Browse listings - When searching for your perfect property in Dubai, browse online property listings.
  • Contact agents and developers - During your search, you should contact agents and developers to assist you with finding a property to buy in Dubai.
  • Viewing various properties - Don't settle for the first property that you see. View a variety of properties and see which one speaks to you.
  • Ensure the property meets your requirements - Before you decide to buy property in Dubai, make sure that it meets your needs. If you have a family and need a lot of space, don't opt for an apartment. However, if you're a single person who doesn't want the hassle of upkeep on a villa or townhouse, an apartment may be the way to go.

When buying property in Dubai and needing a mortgage to fund it, speak to Holo to find out how we can assist.

This blog is for educational purposes, but everyone's case is unique, and local guidelines and regulations may change. Our mortgage advisors can help you with any question you may have and have the latest advice. Get in touch.

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