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Dubai is rapidly growing in popularity with British second home purchasers attracted by its lifestyle, cosmopolitan atmosphere and sub-tropical climate.
In recent years, prices have increased by as much as 25 per cent per annum, while remaining low by UK standards, and Dubai City has become an international property hotspot. The consequent surge in new residential developments has fuelled fears of a property bubble, but demand is still exceeding supply and is not expected to slow in the short term.
We hope this guide will help you decide whether Dubai is the right location for your second home or investment property. There are many resources to help with further research, including estate agents, television and radio programmes, magazines, the Internet and property exhibitions.
Dubai City consists of two main areas, Bur Dubai (the older part) and Deira, which faces it across Dubai Creek and is now the centre of the city.
Residential locations traditionally favoured by Westerners include the extremely select Jumeirah, which lies on the coast to the southwest of the city centre, and Al-Garhoud, situated on the northeastern side of the creek, near the airport. However, the recent property boom has led to a ripple effect that is enlarging the popular areas. Most residential development is currently happening west of the city, with the majority of foreign and expatriate purchasers concentrated in an area of approximately 25 km2, within easy reach of the beaches and the city-centre facilities.
The types of home favoured by British purchasers are apartments and villas (either single- or two-storey), often located in secure complexes with communal leisure facilities such as tennis courts, swimming pools and gyms.
Since 2002, when, by royal decree, foreign nationals first became eligible to own property, Dubai has enjoyed a construction boom. New developments, many of them extremely luxurious and featuring the latest in technology, are springing up, particularly in areas popular with expatriates. These include Palm Island, a vast new resort development constructed in the shape of a palm, which projects 5 km into the sea off Jumeirah and extends Dubai\'s coastline by 61 km.
The build problems common in earlier development now seem largely to have been resolved.
Until 2002, ownership of property in Dubai was restricted by law to citizens of the UAE and other nationals of the Arab Gulf Cooperation Council. Even when this law was reversed, there was, until recently, no federal law that recognised freehold tenure, which meant that the value of Dubai freeholds rested in essence on the country’s international trading credentials and good name rather than on enforceable law.
Foreigners who bought property in Dubai received a deed from the major development companies, which are, effectively, owned and controlled by Dubai’s government and, ultimately, its ruler. Although this state of affairs had little or no significant effect on the burgeoning property market, it was not entirely satisfactory.
In March 2006, the Dubai government passed a long-awaited law allowing foreign freehold ownership of property in the emirate, but only in areas designated by the ruler. Owners are permitted to derive benefit from and to let their properties.
It is generally understood that the freehold as set out under this law is a freehold in the international sense, whereby owners are deemed to have absolute rights in their property.
Some developers are still selling leasehold rather than freehold titles, in which case the title is valid for the period stipulated in the lease agreement.
Because the international property market in Dubai is still in its infancy, there is as yet no formal purchase process. The only piece of paperwork required is a (usually) straightforward sales agreement. Before signing, it is advisable to consult a local lawyer or one familiar with Dubai, since, once signed, the document becomes legally binding.
In the majority of cases, those buying freehold property in Dubai do not incur survey fees. Stamp Duty does not exist. The only significant cost, therefore, is a 1.5 per cent land registry fee, payable on completion.
Because of the absence of a structured purchase process, it is essential to tread warily and deal only with reputable developers and/or agents.
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