Simple, yet with a twist. What property requirements do foreigners come with to real estate agents in the UAE?

Simple, yet with a twist. What property requirements do foreigners come with to real estate agents in the UAE?

08.20.2022 (updated 11.30.2022)

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  • Simple, yet with a twist. What property requirements do foreigners come with to real estate agents in the UAE?

When we think of foreigners in the United Arab Emirates, we imagine something extra luxury. It may seem that people who can afford a house in the Emirates should live exclusively in luxurious villas made of marble and gold. However, housing market experts refute this idea. We have talked to the team of the AX CAPITAL real estate agency – Dmitry Zolotko, a sales manager, and Aram Grigoryan, senior consultant, about what types of property in Dubai and other emirates foreign property hunters prefer and what requirements they have.


The most unusual housing requirements foreigners have

According to Aram Grigoryan, the most unusual and complex tasks were requests to find a ranch and a vineyard, while both clients wanted to have a plot by the sea. In the commercial property sector, he remembers an order when a customer wanted to purchase a space at a Marriott hotel that was not intended for the business the client wanted to use it for. To handle the issue, the real estate agency had to contact the management of the hotel chain and the owners of the Emirates branch. Eventually, the negotiations turned out to be successful – the deal was signed.

According to Dmitry Zolotko, unusual requests in his case can be divided into two categories. The first relates to real estate up to AED 376,300 (USD 100,000), and the second – deals with transactions worth more than one million. When it comes to the first group, customers who are not familiar with Dubai’s housing market, come up with impossible requirements: for example, they want to purchase a move-in ready property with a full range of amenities for only AED 183,600 (USD 50,000). According to the expert, this type of buyers mistakenly believes that Dubai is similar to Turkey in this matter. However, it is impossible to buy real estate on such conditions in the UAE. The cost of residential properties here starts from AED 376,300 (USD 100,000) – AED 440,700 (USD 120,000), and we are talking about basic budget options. Those customers who are willing to spend large sums look for such options as to build a private marina for a yacht or a platform for a personal helicopter. Sometimes wealthy buyers can buy several neighboring plots in order to combine them into one.

Out-of-fashion extravagance and the difference in tastes of Easterners and Europeans

According to Aram Grigoryan, the extravagant demands that could come from property hunters from Eastern countries are already in the past. On the contrary, many are more likely to opt for minimalistic options. So, apartments in the Cavalli Tower skyscraper, which was erected by Damac, are known for their elaborate designs (for instance, details decorated with crocodile and snake skin). Despite the fact that this design is traditionally considered to be in demand among Easterners, apartments in this tower are not that much popular among them. The main requirement of the buyers from eastern countries is proximity to the sea, and this is what distinguishes them from the Europeans. In addition, EU nationals pay more attention to the liquidity of the property and its return on investment, while Easterners pay more attention to the security of their assets.

Dmitry Zolotko agreed with his colleague: the requests of foreigners are quite standard. The only thing that distinguishes Easterners from Europeans is that the former treat their house as a fortress and, when decorating it, assume that they will be within four walls around the clock. This affects the choice of finishes and layout. Everything should be comfortable and of high quality, even the most insignificant detail matters. Europeans treat their home as a space for sleeping and eating and do not plan to spend the whole day there. For them, small nuances are not significant. Buyers from Arab cultures, as a rule, prefer small windows and closed kitchens. This is due to the peculiarities of national food: with a kitchen combined with a living room, the smell will quickly spread throughout the rooms.

Typical property requirements of foreigners

The differences in the requests of foreigners from different counties are insignificant. Tastes can vary in terms of style and colors. For instance, buyers from Kazakhstan very often prefer a classic and Arabic style, which was used in the Madinat Jumeirah project. Sometimes the purposes of the purchase also differ: for example, according to Mr. Grigoryan, some nationals of the CIS countries purchase housing in the UAE as a symbol of their high status. These buyers are not interested in the profitability of the property and the rise in their property price, since they are not going to resell or rent the property out.

Unpleasant surprises: what can make foreigners feel disappointed

Foreigners in the UAE may be unpleasantly surprised by the strictness of building codes and the inability to make changes to the balconies or facades. According to Aram Grigoryan, many are amazed that they cannot hang clothes out of the window to dry or arrange flower pots. Some communities prohibit pets in the home and fine those who do not comply with this rule.

Changes in requirements considering new geopolitical conditions

Aram Grigoryan said that as a result of recent events, customers have been striving to speed up the purchase – in other words, the terms for concluding transactions have changed. More and more foreigners prefer ready-made or resale real estate, which allows them to apply for a residence permit in the UAE and relocate. When buying such an option, foreigners who want to pay for the property in installments may face some problems as such payment option is very rare in this category of housing.

Mr. Zolotko said that the property requirements of foreigners have become more accurate, and the buyers themselves are now paying more attention to small details. While a few years ago people used to buy property to rent it out, now a significant part of the clients are looking for options buy-to-live options or the properties where they can spend several months a year in Dubai.

Examples of real property requests

  • The largest project – an eight-bedroom house;
  • The smallest project – a studio with an area of 29-32 m2;
  • The most affordable housing – a studio apartment for AED 376,300 (USD 100,000) in the Boutique XII project;
  • The most expensive housing – a villa in XXII Carat on the island of Palm Jumeirah for AED 97 million (UAD 26.4 million);
  • The strangest villa is a mansion where the design of each room was different from the others. The bedroom was decorated in a classic style, the kitchen in a modern style, the living room in Arabic. Despite the attempts to dissuade the client from buying that property because of its unprofitability (since such a house is very difficult to resell), the deal was concluded. The client was satisfied and has been living in this villa for more than three years;
  • The most unusual request – the client wanted to build a Russian bathhouse in their villa. Materials were brought from Russia, preparation took a long time. However, a few days before construction began, the client changed their mind.

The AX CAPITAL real estate agency in Dubai offers its clients a premium service at all stages of the transaction. Our experts will help you choose the right property, draw up all the required papers and walk you through the whole process of buying.

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