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Buying and Selling Property in the UAE

Our team comprises of internationally trained and experienced lawyers who handle all aspects of conveyancing including drafting contracts and agreements, negotiations, and title registrations.

Whatever type of property transaction you need to complete, our property team will work closely with you, answering your questions promptly and ensuring a smooth process.

What sets our property team apart is the vast breadth and depth of our experience in both highly complex and standard transactions.  As such, both expatriates and UAE nationals trust us to manage the buying and selling of their residential property.

At TWS Legal Consultants, we take the time to listen to your questions about residential conveyancing matters.  We understand that for most people, their home represents not only where they live, but the most significant financial purchase they will ever make.  As such, your lawyer will meet with you in person (if possible) and manage your matter from beginning to end.  If you are not able to come to our office, we are fully set up for video calls.  Our lawyers pride themselves in being highly responsive to client questions and will return your phone calls and/or emails as quickly as possible.

Can expatriates buy property in the UAE?

The UAE is a federation of seven autonomous emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Umm al Quwain, and Ajman.  This means that there is a twin legal system which includes local judiciary and the federal judiciary.  Therefore, each emirate can have different laws regarding residential property matters.

Abu Dhabi

From April 2019, an amendment was made to the Abu Dhabi real estate law allowing all foreigners to own the freehold of land and properties purchased in investment zones.  Before this, ownership of property in Abu Dhabi was largely restricted to UAE and GCC Nationals.


Expatriates living in Dubai can buy:

  • A leasehold property
  • A freehold property in one of the 23 freehold areas, including Al Barsha South, Emirates Hills, Jebel Ali, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Marina and Palm Jumeirah.

What is the process for buying a residential property in Dubai?

In most cases, the procedure for buying a property in Dubai is uncomplicated.

The procedures are slightly different depending on whether you are purchasing an off-plan property from a developer, or a home from a private seller.  The latter is referred to as a “resale” purchase.

The usual steps for a resale purchase are as follows:

  1. Terms are agreed by the buyer and seller.
  2. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is signed. This sets out the terms of the agreement and is not legally binding. The deposit (usually 10%) is paid.
  3. The buyer obtains a mortgage if required.
  4. The formal transfer of deeds takes place. The buyer must pay 100% of the purchase price at this time.

For off-plan purchases, the process usually follows the steps listed below:

  1. A reservation form is completed. This sets out the basic terms and conditions of the sales agreement, the details of the payment plan, and the buyer and seller’s personal details.
  2. A deposit of between 5-20% is paid, and the sale and purchase agreement is drafted. This is legally binding on all parties.
  3. The buyer obtains a mortgage if required.
  4. The deeds of the property are transferred. This is done at the developer’s office if the property has yet to be completed, or at the Land Department offices if the property is already registered.  The full purchase price must be paid at this time.

Our UK and UAE residential property lawyers can advise and represent you throughout the entire sale and purchase process.  This applies whether you are an investor or an expatriate in the UAE.

Please contact us at TWS Legal Consultants to make an appointment:

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