An Off-Plan Property is a property where the construction has not yet begun or in some cases the property is in the early stages of construction. Generally, this type of property can be directly purchased from a developer.

Advantages of buying an Off-Plan property in the UAE, is that:

  • You get to purchase the property for the lowest possible price for the project.
  • It offers good Returns on your Investments (ROI).
  • And often better payment plans with lower costs are provided for Off-Plan properties.

This article aims to educate you on all the steps involved in purchasing an Off-Plan Property in UAE.

Designated Areas

If you are a foreigner or an expat planning to buy an off-plan property in the UAE, as per the laws of UAE you are not eligible to own a property in any area that you wish.

The government of UAE has allocated certain designated areas in all the emirates that are specified for foreign ownership, which is generally known as “freehold” properties. There are relevant laws in place for each emirate to govern these areas.

You must ensure that you choose a property that is located in a freehold area.

Choosing the Right Developer

It is essential to do all the necessary research and background check on the developer that you intend on purchasing the property from, you can do so by checking their history by reading customer reviews and testimonials and their experience with the developer and the quality of the properties owned by the developer.

Viewing

Once you have shortlisted the developer and the projects that interest you, you may now visit the projects in person to gain clarity on what the project intends to be, what the project offers, the pricing and the payment plans offered by the developer by viewing the brochure or Project model.

Legal Due Diligence

Once you have chosen the developer and the property, it is recommended that you approach the appropriate government authorities of the particular emirate.

For example: if you choose to buy your off-plan property in the emirate of Dubai you can verify with the Dubai Land Department (DLD) or Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) or the DLD’s website (www.dubailand.gov.ae) and check:

  • Whether the real estate project is registered with the appropriate government authority?
  • Is there an escrow account for the project?
  • What is the escrow account number and the name of the escrow account agent?
  • What is the rate of completion of the project and the expected date of completion?
  • Does the developer own the development land or is there a development agreement between the owner and the developer?
  • Does the developer have the required permits and approvals from the appropriate government authority to sell units off-plan in the relevant project?

Booking/Reservation

Once you are satisfied that the developer has clarified all your queries, you may then proceed to reserve the unit. The developer may ask you to pay a small % as booking fee/reservation fee and ask you to sign a reservation form/booking form which is prepared by the developer in order to  seize your interest formally, this form contains information such as the buyers contact details, description of the property in order to remove or make the unit unavailable to other buyers. Such a transaction is usually made through a cheque addressed to the developer; the money shall be transferred to the developer only after the ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer.

In addition to the reservation fee you will also be requested to pay the government fee, that is, to the Land Department. In Dubai, as per Article 3 of the Dubai Executive Council Decision No. 30 of 2013, a fee of 4% of the total value of the property, is to be paid both by the seller and the buyer equally, similarly different emirates in UAE will have a government fee that you will have to pay as stipulated by the relevant government authority.

Guarantee Account/ Escrow Account:

The installments transferred to the developer before the project is completed goes into a special bank account, called a guarantee account/ Escrow account. The escrow accounts are usually maintained by the Real Estate department of that particular emirate for the said project as it ensures that you protect your money until the property is handed over to you.

Sale Purchase Agreement (SPA)

A SPA is a legally binding agreement which you are required to sign with the developer, it is the most essential document of the whole transaction, and contains details such as:

  • The purchase price,
  • The technical details or the specifics of the property such as the size, floorplan, number of rooms, view, parking spaces, etc.
  • The Personal Information of the buyer such as the contact information, visa details, passport details, Emirates ID.
  • The personal information of the developer.
  • A Payment plan specifying the payment schedule.
  • The Anticipated Date of Completion or the date when the property will be handed over to the buyer.
  • Lastly the Signatures of the developer and the buyer.

Make sure that you review and have a clear understanding of the contents in the agreement before signing the agreement.

Registration

Registration guarantees/ensures that your purchase of the off-plan property has been registered with the government in the Real Estate Register. Upon the completion of this step you will receive the initial contract of sale which will be issued by the Land Department of the concerned emirate.

Completion of Project

In accordance with the date of completion clause in the SPA, the developer is obligated to complete the construction, deliver and notify all their clients about the completion of the project.

Investigate before the handover

As per your payment plan you may be required to settle the pending amount, upon receiving payment the developer will extend you an invitation in order for you to investigate the particular unit that you have purchased on a set date along with his team, you may inspect the unit to ensure that you are satisfied with quality and there are no issues in the property. Once you are satisfied that the unit is as per the standards that were promised to you by the developer you may inform the same to your developer and the property shall be handed over to you.

Should you need assistance from real estate or property lawyers, please feel free to contact us at your most convenient time.

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