Last summer my wife and I made the decision to purchase property in Dubai. We had lived in a duplex townhouse for the past two years with our young daughter but as we had recently discovered that we were expecting our second baby we realised we needed to move to a bigger property in order to accommodate our growing clan. Whilst we had some money saved, we were not very aware of the full cost of buying a villa in Dubai. We wanted to buy a property for us to live in, but also invest in Dubai real estate when prices were relatively low.
Deciding on buying a villa in Dubai
We managed to raise enough finances and after some research into the process and requirements along with many evenings of browsing property websites such as Bayut.com together, we decided we were ready to start viewing properties in Dubai to get a better idea of what we would like to invest in. Initially, we looked at some very nice apartments as we both liked the convenience of apartment living. The problem we found was that the place we liked most was unfinished and our budget wouldn't stretch enough for us to purchase some of the lavish 3-bed apartments we saw meant that we moved on to look at buying a villa in Dubai.
Choosing a home in Mira
We had a few friends who had moved out of the main the city into the suburbs to live in Mira near Arabian Ranches. They all loved it so much we decided to give it a thought and go see what made our friends like this area so much.
Mira is a very nicely developed community which while not fully finished, has enough conveniences to get by and the location was good for us at the time we moved. It has great parks with play areas for kids, swimming pools, tennis courts, a skate park, football pitch and basketball court. There is a Spinneys and a couple of other small retail outlets. There are a couple of kids nurseries - one in the nearby Layan community and another in Sustainable City which was an important factor for us as we wanted our daughter to be somewhere close by. We viewed two or three different types of villas but were not fully convinced by any that we had seen but we were well assisted by our estate agent who told us of a villa that was on the market but had not yet been released by the developer - Emaar. So we waited a few weeks for this to become available and went to view it. Our estate agent at Gold Mark Real Estate was very helpful throughout the whole process and he helped us with advice about the process of buying a villa in Dubai and if he didn't know the answer to our questions he would always be able to find someone who could give us the answer.
Working out the finances
We decided on this property and at this time we also set ourselves up with a mortgage broker. We were not fully aware of whether or not we really needed to have legal representation for the transaction but after meeting with our mortgage advisor we were very confident that we could follow her directions safe in the knowledge we would be getting the transaction through relatively smoothly and quickly and without the need of a solicitor. We looked at our budget and borrowing capacity and our advisor set about finding us suitable mortgage options in Dubai for expats. We went for the best value mortgage over a three year period with a staggered increase in monthly payments even though in the third year the monthly payments would be higher than the other options. We did this because we would have lower payments in the first year and this would be when we needed to spend more money on setting up our home.
Differences between buying property in Dubai and the UK
The biggest differences between buying a villa in Dubai and buying property back home in the UK are that on the positive side you don't need a solicitor but the Land Department look after the legal process and on the negative side you have to buy out the mortgage at the end of its term (unless the bank offers you a special deal to retain your custom).
The bank approval took a lot of paperwork and back and forth between various institutions but it was not so complicated. The problem that slowed us down a little was that I had just changed employers and so needed extra documentation to show I was not on probation as they would not issue the mortgage if I had been. The actual property transfer was very easy - we met with our estate agent, mortgage broker and the seller at the land department office in Emaar Square and we had finished within a couple of hours and were the proud new owners of a 3-bedroom villa in Mira in Reem Community.
We purchased property in Dubai just before the prices bottomed out and so there should be some future growth in the value and even if the growth is modest we will have saved on rent. We will also have the option to rent the property out in the future with quite a good rental yield to consider. The opportunity to purchase in a desirable and fast growing location and set up a family home whilst living the expat life was one not to be wasted, and living in our own house in Dubai is an experience we have certainly enjoyed.
About Nicholas Stuart
Nicholas is a British expat who has been living with his wife and two young children in Dubai for the past 6 years and works as a senior manager in the retail sector. He is the happy owner of a 3-bedroom villa in Dubai where he lives with his loving family.