What to buy in Dubai

Billy Rautenbach, Operating Principal at Keller Williams Dubai, shares her insights on where and what to buy in Dubai right now whether you are looking for an investment or a new home.

Dubai offers several real estate opportunities, whether this is as an investment or as somewhere to live, there are so many options available as well as off plan developments.

One thing I would suggest as an initial step for anyone wanting to purchase a property in Dubai would be to connect with a mortgage broker and a reputable real estate agent – both of them will be able to advise you throughout the buying process and I will talk about how later.

In order to answer the question as to where and what to buy in Dubai, we first need to establish which type of buyer you are. I would say most of our clients fall into one of three categories; investor, end-user or speculator.

An ‘investor’ is exactly that – someone who wants to buy a property in Dubai as an investment for the purpose of being able get a return on that investment. An ‘end-user’ is someone who wants to buy a property in Dubai to live in themselves, as they are looking for a home. Finally, a ‘speculator’ is somebody who would buy a property at a good price, that they could resell to make a profit, normally in a short period.


If you fall into the ‘investor’ category, it is likely you will be looking at something where you can get some sort of return. Price will be very important to you so you will need to do your homework and keep an eye out for any opportunities that might come up. As an investor you will be looking for something which is really well priced. Everyone is looking for a deal, so having an estate agent look for you is also a good idea because they will often know about properties which may not be on the market and can inform you if these are a suitable investment for your return. At the moment, the most popular area for both rentals and sales is Dubai Marina, and the main property type that you can buy there is apartments. A great tool for a smart investor to use is Property Finder. This website offers the prospective buyer an opportunity to view various information including other properties for sale in a similar price category and location, how properties compare in terms of size and price, as well as average price range and rates.


Moving on, those who fit in the ‘speculator’ category will be looking at properties that can be bought to make a return in the short term. For you, when buying in Dubai you should be looking at off-plan opportunities. There are a lot of off-plan developments right now and many of these offer competitive pricing with quite attractive payment plans. Well priced off-plan properties often allow for adding a premium when reselling and could be turned around quite quickly. Unlike an investor, if you fit the speculator category, I would advise that you should focus on the developer of the property before a specific area or property type. Do your research on the different developers in Dubai, and opt for buying from a developer with a good reputation for delivering the product relatively on time and to a high-quality standard.


Finally, let’s look at the ‘end-user category. If you fall into the end user category you will also be looking for value for money. However, it is likely you’ll be looking for somewhere already built up and with a community. In terms of property type, there was about a 50/50 market split according to trends from last year for those buying villas to apartments. My opinion is that the type of property you go for really depends on you as a person and your circumstances.

As a typical example, I think for someone without a family an apartment in Dubai Marina is a great option. There are some well-priced properties there at the moment and also in Jumeriah Lakes Towers, as we have seen some downward pressure on prices for those locations.

For someone with a family, or if you would like more space, then a villa in the Jumeriah Village Circle or Triangle are quite popular and the prices are competitive. The communities are already established in these areas too, so they make for convenient living.

Whichever category you fall into, if you are interested in buying a property in Dubai then it is worthwhile speaking to both a mortgage broker and a reputable real estate agent early on in the process. A mortgage broker will be able to advise on affordability and lending options which will ultimately affect where and what you can buy. Your mortgage broker will compare different lenders to find the best mortgage deal for your situation, they will also be able to help with the pre-approval process which will put you in a much stronger position when it comes to moving forward with a purchase.

A real estate agent will be able to advise on properties depending on your situation. It is important, however, that you do your research to make sure you find a reputable real estate company. The larger well-known brands who are in the industry for the long term offer a certain level of protection to their clients. Ensure the agent you choose is RERA registered and a member of a firm.

Exit strategy

My final piece of advice pertains to an exit strategy. I advise all buyers to have an exit strategy. A lot of people tend to forget that one day it is likely they will want to sell their property. For example, one thing I would advise is not overcapitalise. Buyers often purchase a property and put very beautiful, expensive kitchens, bathrooms and other features. When time comes to sell they want to recover such expenses. It is important that you make the property what you want it to be so it suits you, however remember that the next buyer may not want to pay for it or may even want to make their own changes to suit their taste.

If you are interested in buying a property in Dubai or the UAE, decide which category you fall into and then do your desk research. A good first step is to understand how much you can borrow and therefore what value property you can afford, Mortgage Finder’s affordability calculator can help with this.

By Billy Rautenbach, Operating Principal at Keller Williams Dubai