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Expert Insights

20 February 2018

Structure of Residential Transactions in Dubai

This article summarises the process involved with buying freehold properties from the secondary market in Dubai and the most common issues faced by buyers.


The general structure of the transaction for the purchase of a residential property in Dubai involves the following steps.

Step 1 – Selecting a Property

A buyer may either instruct a broker to assist with finding a suitable property or do so themselves. Once a property has been selected, an offer to purchase is made.  The buyer / broker should have carried out initial enquiries to confirm the seller’s identity and title to the property by this stage.

Some brokers and sellers may ask for a deposit at this point, but a deposit should not be paid to the seller or the broker until a sale and purchase agreement has been signed by both parties.

Step 2 - Technical and Legal Due Diligence

A buyer should carry out a physical inspection of the property by appointing a surveyor to do so.

Legal due diligence should also be carried out to confirm that the seller holds good title to the property free of any charges or encumbrances.

Step 3 - The Sale and Purchase Agreement

This is a very important document as it will structure the transaction and provide the buyer with the right to terminate the transaction and recover the deposit should there be any issues with the property. Such issues may include not being able to secure a loan to fund the purchase price, issues with the Seller’s title, the physical condition of the property and if the seller cannot provide the buyer with vacant possession.

Step 4 - Developer / Owners’ Association’s Consent

The developer / the Owners’ Association consent must be obtained in order to transfer title to the property to the buyer. Additional forms of consent might also be required, such as the Dubai Land Department’s consent where the property is being bought by a corporate entity.

Step 5 - Transfer of Title

The seller (or the broker where applicable) must then book an appointment with one of the Dubai Land Department’s Real Estate Registration Trustees to carry out the transfer of title.  A completion statement which details all sums payable by the parties, and the form in which such payments will be made should be agreed to by all parties, before the transfer date.

Care should be taken to ensure that the seller does not receive the purchase price until the buyer has received title and possession to the property, including all sets of keys, access cards and any additional items which were included as a part of the transaction.
Additional issues may also arise where a buyer finances the purchase of the property through a loan, but these are beyond the summary contained in this article.

We have advised buyers on transactions ranging from the purchase of a building to individual residential units and therefore are well placed to assist clients with their residential property investment requirements.

Please contact us if you would like any further information in respect of your transaction.

This article was written by Simon Green and Poras Dhakan. For more information please contact Simon on +971 42461902 or at or Poras on +971 42461912 or at