How to Buy an Apartment in Dubai: Where to Look And How Much It Costs

How to Buy an Apartment in Dubai: Where to Look And How Much It Costs

Have you reached that happy and important moment when you're prepared to purchase a home, whether it's for your own residence, rental purposes, or resale? Regardless of your objective, you'll discover the perfect apartment in Dubai, the largest and arguably the most dynamic city in the United Arab Emirates, home to a population of 3.5 million people. The majority of residents are foreign citizens, and you have the opportunity to join them by purchasing a luxurious apartment in the world's tallest skyscraper or opting for a more modest residence closer to the ground. Let's explore the available properties for sale in Dubai.

Can Foreigners Buy Real Estate in Dubai

For a considerable period, foreigners faced restrictions when it came to purchasing real estate in the UAE. However, a pivotal change occurred in 2002 when Dubai emerged as the first emirate to permit foreign citizens full property ownership rights. What's noteworthy is that you don't need to be a resident to acquire an apartment or any other form of residential real estate in Dubai. In fact, the acquisition of housing can facilitate the process of obtaining resident status. 

However, it's essential for foreign citizens to be aware that certain property ownership restrictions still persist. As per the emirate's laws, foreigners are permitted three types of property ownership: 

  • Freehold: This grants the right to indefinite and unlimited ownership.
  • Leasehold: This involves a long-term lease arrangement, often up to 99 years.
  • Usufruct: This constitutes a long-term lease without the possibility of any rebuilding.

The caveat is that expats can only purchase real estate on freehold terms in designated zones. However, this is unlikely to pose a significant obstacle on your path to finding the apartment of your dreams. Dubai boasts several dozen freehold zones, spread across the city's most prestigious neighborhoods as well as areas with more affordable apartment options.

Where to Look for Apartments: Developer Companies and Classifieds Websites

When you are considering buying a home, an essential question to ponder is: how urgently do you need it? If you are not in a rush, you might want to contemplate purchasing an apartment in a building under construction. This option could potentially save you money. However, there is the risk of construction delays or even abandonment of the project.

You can utilize the Dubai Land Department website to verify whether a developer you are interested in is licensed to operate in Dubai. Here are some of the prominent construction companies that have played a significant role in shaping the city over the past two decades: 

  • Emaar Properties is developing The Dubai Downtown, which includes the iconic Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building. The company has also played a significant role in the development of Dubai Marina, Dubai Hills Estate, and Dubai Creek Harbor, among other projects.
  • Nakheel Properties has been involved in the development of over 20 districts in Dubai, ranging from the luxurious manmade Palm Jumeirah island to more budget-friendly residential areas like Jumeirah Village Circle and International City.
  • DAMAC Properties is primarily known for its DAMAC Hills development in Dubai, where homes are built around a golf course.
  • Meraas has an extensive portfolio that includes the La Mer, Jumeirah Bay, and City Walk developments in Jumeirah, as well as Bluewaters Island, where you can find Ain Dubai, the world's tallest Ferris wheel.
  • Dubai Properties, which prides itself on its buildings located in the expensive central districts Jumeirah Beach Residence and Business Bay.

The developers' websites will provide information about the buildings they have already completed and their current projects. If something interests you, you can submit an application, marking the first step towards owning a home in Dubai.

Classifieds websites such as provide a comprehensive view of the real estate market. If you already have a clear idea of what you're looking for, you can filter ads by price, the number of bedrooms, and the neighborhood. Additionally, you can distinguish between apartments in completed buildings and those still under construction using another filter.

Hire a Real Estate Agent and Take Additional Expenses into Account

Searching for, inspecting, and purchasing a home is best done in collaboration with a trusted real estate agent. They will guide you through the process and handle the necessary paperwork. Ensure that your chosen agent holds a valid license issued by the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) and possesses a registration number.

The agent's commission typically amounts to 2% of the transaction value. However, it's important to note that there are additional expenses to consider when purchasing property in Dubai. While individuals in Dubai are exempt from property tax, inheritance tax, and capital gains tax, the Dubai Land Department does levy a 4% fee on the property's purchase price. Additionally, there are nominal fixed fees associated with the registration of paperwork. 

There are additional expenses to consider if you choose to finance your home purchase with a mortgage. You will need to provide a down payment to the bank when taking out the loan, and you'll also be required to pay a deposit to the seller. It's important to note that this deposit is non-refundable if you change your mind after signing the letter of intent.

Peninsula Four (Housearch)

The Cost of Apartments in 2022

Apartments are a more accessible type of housing compared to townhouses and villas, and they come in a wide variety of styles and sizes. You can find small studios with a single bathroom, spacious apartments, two-story duplexes, lofts with high ceilings and additional levels, as well as luxurious penthouses perched atop skyscrapers. There's something to suit every taste and budget. 

Several factors influence the cost of an apartment, including its location, floor level, whether it's furnished and equipped with household appliances, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and the square footage. In late 2022, ready-made flats in various districts of Dubai were available for the following prices in dirhams (1,000,000 AED = $272,000):

Studio / one-bedroom apartment
Three-bedroom apartment
Duplex / loft
from 600,000 AED
from 2,500,000 AED
from 2,200,000 AED
from 4,500,000 AED
Dubai Marina
from 470,000 AED
from 1,300,000 AED
from 2,000,000 AED
from 3,200,000 AED
Palm Jumeirah
from 1,000,000 AED
from 2 900,000 AED
from 2,000,000 AED
from 5,000,000 AED
Hills Estate
from 800,000 AED
from 2,200,000 AED
La Mer
from 1,800,000 AED
from 6 500,000 AED
from 20,000,000 AED
Business Bay
from 500,000 AED
from 1,700,000 AED
from 1,900,000 AED
from 4,000,000 AED
from 2,500,000 AED
from 6,000,000 AED
from 400,000 AED
from 1,700,000 AED
Jumeirah Village Circle
from 280,000 AED
from 1,250,000 AED
from 1,200,000 AED
from 2,000,000 AED
International City
from 200,000 AED
from 1,400,000 AED

Foreign real estate owners can obtain resident status in Dubai. If you own property with a combined value of over 2,000,000 AED (for instance, a three- or four-bedroom apartment), you are eligible to apply for a five-year "Golden" visa. Additionally, if you are over 55 and retired, you can obtain a five-year visa by purchasing property worth over 1,000,000 AED (such as a one-bedroom apartment in Palm Jumeirah).

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In a Nutshell

Dubai's real estate market boasts tens of thousands of listings, and construction in the city is continually expanding. Prospective buyers will always find a wide range of options to choose from. Nevertheless, it's advisable not to postpone your purchase. Apartments in rapidly developing cities like Dubai often see increasing prices, which is beneficial for property owners but less so for those who hesitate.

Cover photo: andreas (Freepik)

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