Investing in real estate in Dubai can be a lucrative opportunity for foreign investors. The good news is that you don’t have to invest 100% of your own funds to purchase a property. Local banks in Dubai are willing to provide mortgage loans to expats, making it easier to enter the real estate market.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of obtaining a mortgage in Dubai as a foreign investor, from start to finish.
1. Understand the Key Requirements for Foreigners
Dubai’s legal framework allows foreigners to buy local real estate either through full payment or via a mortgage. However, securing a real estate loan as an expat is not a simple task. To qualify for a mortgage in Dubai, you need to meet several criteria:
- Residency and appropriate visa: You must be a resident of Dubai with a valid visa.
- Employment or registered company: You should be officially employed in the UAE or have your own registered company.
- Initial contribution: Prepare to pay at least 25% of the property’s total price as an initial contribution, plus additional costs for legal support and documentation.
- Age requirement: The borrower’s age must be between 21 and 65 years for employees, and up to 70 years for self-employed individuals.
- Property ownership: Owning fully paid property in the UAE can be an advantage when applying for a mortgage.
Generally, meeting two to three of the above requirements is sufficient for local banks to consider your mortgage application. It’s worth noting that obtaining a mortgage doesn’t indicate financial insolvency. In fact, using borrowed money allows you to allocate your released capital to other profitable investments.
2. Determine the Types of Properties Eligible for Mortgages
While UAE legislation permits foreigners to own property, there are limitations on the type of properties they can purchase. Foreigners can buy property units only in designated areas known as freeholds.
It’s important to understand that as a foreign investor, you can buy the property unit itself, but not the land it sits on. Land plots in the UAE are exclusively owned by UAE citizens.
Mortgages in Dubai can be obtained for both ready-made property units and those under construction (off-plan projects). However, for off-plan properties, the lender may require a higher initial contribution (30-70% depending on the developer and construction stage).
It’s advisable to consider buying property during the construction stage as it often offers more profitable returns compared to ready-made units.
3. Choose the Right Bank and Apply for a Mortgage
The first step in securing a mortgage is selecting the right bank. Dubai offers both local and foreign lenders, each with their own terms and conditions tailored for foreign investors. You can either choose a lender independently or hire an intermediary to assist you with the process.
If you already have existing loans, it’s crucial to ensure your solvency. Banks need to be confident that you can fulfill your financial obligations. The UAE Central Bank mandates that the total mass share of credit payments should be less than 50% of your total monthly income.
Additionally, each family member should have a minimum of AED 3,500 per month after all payments are made.
4. Gather the Necessary Documents
Once you’ve selected a bank, you’ll need to provide the required documents for pre-approval of the transaction. Banks in Dubai conduct a preliminary check to assess your creditworthiness and business reputation. The documents typically requested include:
- Filled-in application form
- Bank statements or payrolls for the last 6 months
- Employer information and income statement (for employees)
- Audit results for the last 2 years and a profit and loss statement (for self-employed individuals)
- Details of additional sources of income, such as dividends or stocks
Note that this list is not exhaustive, and the bank may require additional documentation based on their specific requirements.
5. Search for a Suitable Property and Finalize the Mortgage
After the preliminary check, you’ll have approximately two months to find a property that meets your needs. Once you’ve identified an ideal property, you’ll need to sign a memorandum of intent and pay a deposit, often in the form of a bank check provided by the landowner. This deposit is refundable only if the transaction is terminated by the buyer.
The bank’s representatives will then review the case and conduct an independent expert examination to determine the actual price of the property. Afterward, the lender will provide a final decision regarding the mortgage application.
It’s important to note that there may be a cost associated with the mortgage application, typically 1% of the total property price. If the bank rejects your application, they will provide a full refund.
6. Understand Mortgage Interest Rates and Terms
Mortgage interest rates in Dubai can be either fixed or floating. With a fixed interest rate, the bank provides an annuity payment schedule with a fixed sum that includes both the loan amount and accrued interest. This rate remains the same throughout the term of the loan, except in cases of abrupt changes in the central bank’s credit policy.
Floating interest rates, on the other hand, fluctuate based on the local financial market environment. The interest rate is charged monthly on the remaining debt, resulting in varying monthly payments.
Typically, mortgage interest rates in Dubai range from 4% to 7% per annum, depending on factors such as the property type, construction stage, and initial contribution amount.
7. Comply with Legal Requirements and Consider Visa Benefits
When purchasing a property in Dubai, you automatically qualify for resident status, provided the property meets specific criteria.
To obtain a residential visa, the property must be registered with the Dubai Housing Authority, officially commissioned and registered in your name, not act as collateral, be fully paid for, and cost more than AED 1 million ($27,000).
8. Honor Your Mortgage Obligations and Understand Consequences
It’s crucial to meet your mortgage payment obligations to maintain a good credit standing. Failure to make payments for more than 30 days can negatively impact your credit history and business reputation, making it challenging to secure future loans.
In severe cases, the bank may initiate legal proceedings, which can result in the collection of all outstanding debts and potential deportation from the country.
In conclusion, obtaining a mortgage in Dubai as a foreign investor is an achievable goal. By following the steps outlined in this guide, meeting the requirements, and making informed decisions, you can secure a mortgage and invest in Dubai’s real estate market with confidence.
Remember to conduct thorough research, consult with professionals, and make informed decisions when investing in Dubai’s real estate market.
Masar al Ameen Group, a trusted real estate agent in Dubai. Let them navigate the process for you and secure the best mortgage options tailored to your needs. Contact Masar al Ameen today for professional assistance.