The UAE Home Buyer’s Guide

If you’re considering buying a home in the UAE, then you likely have plans to stick around for a while. That’s great! The United Arab Emirates is a beautiful country and one of the safest in the region.

You likely have a specific location in mind, somewhere close to modern amenities, or the company headquarters that you’ll be working at. UAE Money Expert will guide you on the road to finding a home in the area, and then we’ll discuss the best way to go about purchasing that home.

Finding the right home

One of the first recommendations we have is to find a real estate agent that knows the area where you want to buy a home. Being new to the UAE, it’s easy to get confused and overwhelmed, and making a wrong decision on where to buy a home isn’t something that is easily corrected.

Many homes won’t even show up online—a good real estate agent will know about them, share it with one of their clients, and those clients will take advantage of it before anyone else knows about it. Better if you’re the one getting wind of these homes, and not being the last one to know about them.

Once you’ve selected a real estate agent, tell them about your plans. Where do you want to live? How much do you want to spend on a home? Do you want a neighborhood with new families? Or with an active nightlife? Your real estate agent can help, but you’ll need to have the right questions prepared to help them do their job.

Make sure to treat your agent with respect, and make sure they know you’re serious about buying a home. They may have other clients that they’re working with, so be friendly and you’re bound to be the first to know about your dream home when it comes up.

How to gauge the housing market

Much like the Western world, home prices in the UAE are prone to fluctuate. There’s no avoiding it and no expert alive can say just how much they’re liable to do so. In this sense, the housing market is much like the stock market. It’s impossible to tell exactly how high or low prices will climb or fall—and when they’ll do so.

You can be proactive here. See what houses are going for in your ideal neighborhood, and how much they’ve been selling for over the last few years. Your agent can help you here.

What to look for while house hunting

Once you tell your agent what you’re looking for, he or she will likely take you to a few areas to visit the homes there, and show you which homes are currently for sale, and at what price. This time with your agent is very useful—but you shouldn’t stop there. Come on your own free time and watch how the neighborhood works. When are people coming and going? What kinds of vehicles are parked along the street? Is everything clean? Are there children? Is it full of expats like yourself? Come back during the day and at night. You can’t know what you’re getting into unless you do some footwork first!

If you feel comfortable, talk to some neighbors. Find out what it’s like to live there from the people who know the area well. Ask them how far away the closest amenities are, and whether or not they ever see graffiti (if they say they do, but you don’t see any, that’s not necessarily a bad sign. If it’s cleaned up immediately that means the community is engaged with keeping things tidy.)

The neighbor’s homes may also tip you off to the kind of neighborhood it is. Are the houses kept up? Are weeds growing in their yards?

Lastly, look for new construction in the area. What’s being built there? New homes? Stores? If the community is growing quickly, it likely means it’s thriving and doing well.

I found an awesome house. Now what?

Questions, questions, and more questions! You don’t want to be left in the dark about anything when it comes to finding a new home.

We’ve compiled a list of essential questions that should help you eliminate as many unknowns as possible. Take these questions with you and make sure your real estate agent poses them to the seller:

Why are you looking to sell? Has it been on the market for long?
How many years have you lived in the home? Has it had many viewings? Any offers?
How much are the utilities on average? Has the boiler been inspected recently?
Is there anything that comes with the home? What are the neighbours like?
How old is the home? Is there damage? Has the house been rewired recently?
Have you renovated in recent years? How many parking spaces are available?

 

Of course, you’ll have your own questions that you’ll want to ask the seller. These questions will come up as you tour the home. Make sure you’re taking pictures and getting a good look around. Even newer homes can have problems with them as well as unseen damage.

Be sure to check these trouble areas in the home. If something doesn’t feel right, write it down, and bring it up with your agent to see if the current owners will fix it:

  • Are there any water-damaged areas in the home? This is a bad sign. Water damage must be repaired quickly, or else mold will begin to grow, which in turn could cause health issues. Does the house smell musty? Do you see water stains on the ceiling? Be wary about purchasing a home with this kind of damage to it.
  • Check electrical outlets/flip switches. Check everything systematically. Find out what works and what doesn’t. This includes anything in the kitchen. It’s best to do it now, because once you’ve purchased it, it’s your problem, not the previous owner’s.
  • Verify AC/Heating units are working. We don’t have to remind you that the UAE can get pretty hot. Make sure the AC is running smoothly, and make sure to ask how old it is and when it was last checked out.
  • Verify water taps/plumbing. Flush toilets, turn on shower heads, test spigots and faucets. You need to verify that all the plumbing in the house works.
  • Doors and windows open and close properly. Open and close everything: doors, cabinets, windows—anything that can open, test it. Make sure the main doors have strong locks (look for five-lever Mortice deadlocks.)
  • Do you have a clear signal on your phone? If not, you may be in a dead zone. While it doesn’t happen very often, it’s the last thing you want to deal with after making such a large purchase.
  • Is there an attic? Attics are a great place to see how worn down a home is. If the wood beams look rotten, or if you see water damage anywhere, there’s a good chance other parts of the home are damaged as well.
  • Look along the walls, both inside and outside. We’re looking for cracks in the walls, and even in the tile. This could be a sign of structural damage and at the very least you should ask about it to see whether the problem is getting worse.
  • Are the bedrooms big enough? How about the kitchen? Walk into each room. Can you imagine yourself cooking, sleeping, and relaxing here?
  • Speak with the seller if possible. Sometimes a seller will go back on the decision to sell their home. This is especially bad after you’ve made the decision that you want to buy. If you think the person may be sketchy or unreliable, it may be best to look for homes elsewhere.
  • Ask yourself whether you could sell this home after you leave. This question is especially important to ask the longer a home stays on the market. There is a reason it hasn’t sold yet. Find it, and ask yourself whether you can live with it. More importantly, when it comes time for you to sell the home, will it be a deal breaker, and will you have to see on the home indefinitely?

On a final note, don’t give up if the buyer doesn’t accept your offer. It happens. You may think this is the best house you’ve seen, and you may be getting tired of searching. In reality, there are plenty more homes out there like this one. With a little patience and a bit of luck, you’ll find the perfect home for you in the UAE.

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