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Is Dubai a good country to buy property?

Dubai has emerged as a popular real estate investment destination, offering investors lucrative opportunities. With its strategic location, business-friendly environment, and thriving tourism sector, Dubai attracts investors from all over the world. However, there are several factors to consider before buying property in Dubai. This article provides an in-depth analysis to help you determine if Dubai is a good country for real estate investment

Is Dubai a good country to buy property?

Market Drivers

Several factors make Dubai an attractive real estate market:

  • Strategic location: Dubai is conveniently located between Europe and Asia, making it a global trade and tourism hub. Its airports and seaports provide easy accessibility.
  • Business environment: The government has created free trade zones, with 100% ownership and zero taxes. This attracts foreign companies and professionals.
  • Tourism: Dubai attracts over 16 million visitors annually. Tourism is a key economic pillar, driving demand for hotels and short-term rentals.
  • Expo 2020: The 6-month Expo hosted in Dubai in 2020-2021 increased real estate demand. The event’s infrastructure and promotion elevated Dubai’s global image.
  • Quality of life: Dubai offers an excellent standard of living, safety, education, healthcare, amenities and activities – attracting expats and investors.
  • Infrastructure: Dubai has a modern road network, public transport, amenities, and utilities that enable real estate development.

Risk Factors

However, some risks associated with Dubai property market include:

  • Overdependence on oil: Dubai’s economy depends on the oil and gas sector, which can be volatile. Low oil prices lead to reduced investment.
  • Oversupply: Increased development has led to an oversupply of residential units, causing sales and rental prices to fall.
  • High developer debt: Many developers took on excessive debt. Tough market conditions make it harder to repay loans.
  • Geopolitical uncertainty: Regional conflicts and terrorism can negatively affect investor sentiment and appetites.
  • Regulatory uncertainty: Quick changes in government policies, visas and regulations create uncertainty.
  • Relative lack of transparency: The Dubai market lacks comprehensive data. This makes it harder to gauge true supply/demand dynamics.

Property Prices

Dubai has witnessed extreme property cycles, with rapid growth in the 2000s followed by sharp declines after 2008. Prices began recovering in 2012 but dropped again in 2014 due to reduced oil prices.

The downturn led to more realistic price growth. Currently, average property prices in Dubai are:

  • Apartments: AED 1,000 – 1,500 psf
  • Villas: AED 1,200 – 2,000 psf
  • Prime areas like Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills are 20-25% pricier.

Prices vary significantly depending on factors like location, developer, amenities, unit size, views, etc. Investors can find good value in up-and-coming areas.

Rental Yields

Gross rental yields in Dubai range from 5-9%, depending on the property type and area.

  • Studios: 6-8% yields
  • 1-bed apartments: 6-9%
  • 2-bed apartments: 5-7%
  • Villas: 4-6%

Net yields are lower due to service charges and taxes. Short-term rentals earn higher yields but involve more legal restrictions and management.

The glitzy downtown and off-plan market segments often have lower yields. Investors should target affordable areas with tenant demand.


Dubai has low taxes, which appeals to foreign investors:

  • No personal income tax
  • No capital gains tax
  • No inheritance/estate tax
  • No VAT on rent

Strata fees apply for communal services in apartment blocks. There is a 5% VAT on commercial property sales and rental income.

Overall, Dubai offers significant tax advantages compared to most countries.


Foreigners can acquire a mortgage of up to 80% for off-plan property and 75% for ready units from UAE banks. Interest rates are competitive.

Banks have tightened lending policies after the 2008 crash. Investors now need:

  • Minimum 25% downpayment
  • Debt-to-income ratio below 50%
  • Demonstrate minimum annual income of AED ~240,000

Foreigner ownership laws also impact financing options.

Foreign Ownership

Foreigners can buy property in Dubai in designated areas through:

  • Freehold ownership: Available in projects by Nakheel, Dubai Properties, Emaar etc. Foreigners can get full ownership rights.
  • Leasehold ownership: Foreigners can acquire long leases for up to 99 years in selected areas.
  • Offshore property purchase: Properties in freehold areas can be purchased via an offshore company or trust.

Foreign ownership limits depend on the project. Indians, Pakistanis and citizens of several other countries face more restrictions.

Residency Visa

Foreigners buying property worth over:

  • AED 1 million can get a 3 year residency visa
  • AED 2 million get a 5 year visa
  • AED 10 million get a 5 year multi-entry visa

Family members are also eligible. The real estate ownership has to be retained to renew the visa.

Key Takeaways

  • Dubai has strong fundamentals like location, infrastructure, tourism and quality of life. But oversupply, debt issues, oil dependence, geopolitical risks are challenges.
  • Property prices declined after 2008 but have stabilized now. More realistic growth is occurring in a buyers market.
  • Yields range from 5-9% depending on property type and area. Downtown and off-plan tend to offer lower returns.
  • Taxes are low, but financing has tightened. Foreign ownership is allowed in selected projects.
  • Expats buying over AED 1 million in property can avail a 3-5 year residency visa.


While rewards can be substantial, Dubai’s property market carries risk. Investors should analyze if their investment goals, budgets and risk tolerance align with Dubai’s current housing market conditions. Performing due diligence is key before buying.

Dubai offers exciting opportunities, but focusing on fundamentals and medium to long term gains is advisable. Astute investors who time the market judiciously can benefit from Dubai’s high living standards, business opportunities and value.


Q: Is it better to buy freehold or leasehold property in Dubai as a foreigner?
A: Freehold is better since you get full ownership. But leasehold offers flexibility if your stay is undecided.

Q: What are the best areas in Dubai to invest in real estate?
A: Downtown, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Business Bay, Arabian Ranches, Dubai Hills Estate, Jumeirah Village Circle.

Q: How much of a down payment do I need to buy a property in Dubai?
A: 25-30% for off-plan and 20-25% for ready units. Higher down payments get better mortgage rates.

Q: What is the process for foreigners to buy property in Dubai?
A: Find a property, get loan approved, sign contract, open escrow account, money transfer, finalize sale, apply for utilities and title deed.

Q: What are service charges for Dubai properties?
A: Service charges for amenities maintenance are 5-20 AED psf depending on the development.

Q: What taxes do foreign owners have to pay in Dubai?
A: No personal or income taxes. Only 5% VAT on commercial property sales and rentals. Plus any applicable HOA or service fees.

Q: Can I get a mortgage as a foreigner in Dubai?
Yes, banks offer mortgages to foreigners for off-plan and ready properties. Approval depends on income, debt ratio, downpayment etc.

Q: How much rental income can I expect in Dubai?
A: Gross rental yields are 4-9% depending on property type and location. Downtown, off-plan, studios offer lower yields.

Q: What is the Dubai property price per square foot?
A: Apartment prices are AED 1000-1500 psf. Villas are AED 1200-2000 psf. Prime locations are 20-25% more expensive.

Q: Is it a good time to invest in Dubai real estate?
A: The market has stabilized and offers selective value. Do thorough research before investing based on goals and risk appetite.

Q: Are there any restrictions on repatriating property sale profits from Dubai?
A: No, after paying applicable taxes, foreign investors can fully repatriate the sale proceeds from property in Dubai.

Q: What will happen to my property if there are loan repayment issues?
A: After 90 days of non-payment, banks can freeze the escrow account and start legal proceedings like foreclosure.

Q: How to check if a developer in Dubai is reputable before buying off plan?
A: Research their portfolio, projects, years in business, RERA reputation, Google reviews, legal issues, project delays or cancellations.

Q: What are the risks involved with buying off plan property in Dubai?
A: Developer default, delays in completion, mismatch with advertised specifications, overvaluation, lack of buyers at completion, etc.

Q: Can property prices in Dubai realistically keep increasing at previous rates?
A: Unlikely, as the market has matured. Expect more modest and sustainable single digit price appreciation annually.

Q: Is Dubai still oversupplying housing units, pushing prices down?
A: Yes, but absorption is improving as population and jobs grow. Oversupply should stabilize at healthy levels to match demand growth.

Q: How does investing in Dubai property compare to major US cities?
A: Returns can be greater in Dubai but with higher risks. US markets offer lower yields but are politically and economically more stable.

Q: Will Expo 2020 continue to positively impact Dubai’s housing market?
A: Yes, Expo raised Dubai’s global profile and infrastructure. But impact may diminish each year after the event.

Q: Is Dubai’s property market heavily reliant on foreign investors rather than end-users?
A: Historically yes, but government aims to shift to end-user demand to enable sustainable growth. Foreign investors still play a key role.

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