As we move towards the end of 2020, positivity has returned to the residential property market, especially in the secondary prime residential market (homes already built and lived in as opposed to off-plan). Prices remain low, allowing those looking for property with outdoor space to afford to move. This has triggered a flurry of first-time buyers – locals and expatriates who see the long-term benefits of owning as opposed to renting.
Buying a property, especially in a foreign country, is undoubtedly exciting. Unfortunately, it is also rife with risk. Language and cultural barriers can also lead to misunderstandings. It is therefore imperative to instruct a conveyancing lawyer who understands the UAE property market to advise you throughout the purchase process.
The risks of not using a professional conveyancing lawyer
For most people, buying a property is the most significant purchase they will make. And no matter what country you buy real estate in, risks abound.
One of the most frustrating aspects of buying a property off-plan is a delay in completion. In the past 12 years, around 50% of off-plan housing projects were completed up to 12 months behind schedule. And although regulations have been significantly tightened over recent years, there are still unregistered developers operating in the market.
When it comes to buying an existing property, you will need to be clear on whether your prospective home is freehold or leasehold. Being unaware of what each type of property ownership entitles you to can lead to extreme disappointment in the future. For reference:
- Freehold– freehold property is where you own the building and the land on which the building sits on.
- Leasehold – this is essentially a long-term lease and similar to purchasing a leasehold property in the UK.
How a conveyancing lawyer can protect your interests.
Regarding rogue developers and late completions: fortunately, there are laws to protect purchasers from contractual breaches. For example, developers and brokers must be approved by the Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) before they advertise property in the media. But regardless of the regulatory protections in place, it is essential to conduct due diligence on the developer if you are buying off-plan. This is something your lawyer can do for you quickly and effectively.
Your conveyancing lawyer will also check the validity of proof of ownership (title deed for completed properties; Oqood for off-plan properties) so you can be confident that the property is free from encumbrance or any legal impediments before you pay the deposit or sign any contracts.
Other duties of a conveyancing lawyer include:
- Explaining and drafting the Memorandum of Understanding.
- Reviewing completion timeframes and advising on any potential special conditions relating to the purchase.
- Holding the deposit cheques until the transfer occurs.
- Ensuring all maintenance/service fees are paid as per the developer’s requirements for an NOC application.
- Drafting and confirming the final transfer documentation, detailing all monies involved.
If your conveyancer works for a full-service law firm, they can, at the same time the property purchase occurs, ensure you have a legally valid Will as well as a UAE Power of Attorney. Buying property and putting a Will in place go hand in hand in the UAE, as failure to have these tools in place could see your estate being subject to Sharia Law if you die in the UAE.
Investing in experienced legal advice when you are buying a property in the UAE could save you a great deal of stress and money long-term. It will also allow you to purchase your home with confidence and leave you free to celebrate the next stage of your expatriate journey.