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A Guide to the Legal Steps of Buying Property in Dubai

In just the first 15 days of 2017, real estate transactions had generated AED 12 billion, according to a report by the Dubai Land Department. More and more investors are realizing the benefits of investing in the UAE’s real estate market, and thus increasingly searching properties for sale in Dubai.

If you want to join the increasing number of investors and buyers of homes and apartments in Dubai, we’ve compiled this handy legal guide to help you buy a property in Dubai effortlessly.

Introduction to Dubai’s Governing Authorities

After a decree in 2002 permitted foreign nationals to own freehold property in Dubai, many expats have been drawn to making an investment in Dubai. For smoother operations and to secure the rights of investors, real estate entities have been established. Below is an introduction to the two main entities you will come across when purchasing an apartment in Dubai:

  • Dubai Land Department (DLD) – This is the main governmental entity that is responsible for all real estate related matters, which includes land sales as well. From approvals to document transactions, the entity is also responsible for title registration, licensing and ensuring the safety of all buyers and sellers in Dubai. 
  • Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) – This entity regulates all activities in the real estate market, including properties for sale in Dubai. Therefore, RERA oversees real estate developers, owners and brokerage companies. It cancels projects that are stalled and overlooks all technical matters – financial to legal – in relation to developing real estate projects. Though RERA is a strict entity, it ensures that the buyers’ and investors’ interests are protected.

What Can You Expect?

As a buyer, once you agree to the terms with the seller, you can sign a Memorandum of Understanding and pay a deposit. Afterwards, a No-Objection Certificate is issued. After the certificate is issued, all parties involved go to the Dubai Land Department to pay extra fees (including the registration fees, issuing a new title deed and transferring ownership).

In the case that you are financing the property through a mortgage, a bank will be involved in the procedure. 

The Legal Documents

You will be required to hand a list of documents before purchasing a property in Dubai, which may depend on your case. We advise you to visit the Dubai Land Department and have your documents pre-approved for a smoother process. You will also be expected to have copies of your documents translated by a UAE-certified legal translator into Arabic. 

Costs You May Pay for a Dubai Property

  • The NOC fee may cost around AED 500 to AED 5,000
  • The registration fee is 4% of the property price and paid to the Dubai Land Department
  • Usually, a real estate agent’s commission is around 2%

There may be additional costs payable to the developer or the Dubai Land Department. Extra possible fees that may occur later will be building maintenance or community service fees, payable to the developer.

It’s important to know these costs in advance in order to calculate and finance your budget accordingly.

Where You Can Buy Apartments in Dubai?

GCC and UAE nationals can own any real estate property in Dubai. On the other hand, foreign nationals are permitted to purchase property in specified locations only. These locations include The Palm, Downtown Dubai, Burj Khalifa, Dubai Marina, Emirates Hills, JLT, JBR, Dubai Sports City and a few more.

For more information on permitted locations for purchasing property in Dubai, you can contact the Dubai Land Department.

If you are interested in taking your first step to buying property in Dubai, contact our expert team at and take a look at the Dubai based properties for sale that we have on offer.