What to consider when buying a villa in Dubai

If you are considering purchasing a villa in Dubai then check out these tips from Adrian Popica, General Manager at House Hunters. Adrian shares his insights on things to think about and be aware of when starting your search through to the day that you collect the keys for your new villa!

There has never been a better time to purchase a property in Dubai. With real estate prices at current levels and so many amazing villa communities to choose from, each providing excellent facilities that cater to a range of different needs and wants, it would be difficult not to find one which is perfect for you.

For some clients, they find the task of deciding what and where to buy quite daunting, as Dubai’s villa communities offer a wide range of choice with varying price points. In this article I will be sharing my advice on the main things you should think about and account for when starting your search and moving forward with your villa purchase.

First steps

Before you start your search, and this applies to any property purchase, it is important that you sit down and look at your finances and affordability. If you have a family, include them at this early stage too and make sure they are all on-board. Take the time to really think about why you are buying and whether it is right for your circumstances – financially and otherwise. The point behind this is to ensure that you are not stretching too far and putting pressure on yourself and your family.

After speaking with clients and advising them on the above, a common concern many of them raise is regarding the real estate market and where I foresee it going. This is a topic that is often in the news with varying opinions being put forward by experts on a regular basis. My answer to this comes back to whether buying is right for you right now. Where the market is going is not something that any of us can control or even accurately predict in some cases. For me, this means making sure that buying right now is the best thing for the client and will not put much pressure on them with current market conditions.

For those that really want to look into the market, then it is easy to see that the general trend over the past few years has been a downward shift in prices. When some clients say they are inclined to wait and see if prices decrease further, I can understand as of course you will want to get the best price possible for such a large investment. The market is unpredictable though. My advice in this situation is if you see a villa you like right now, but you are concerned by a potential fall in price, then instead of waiting for a 10% fall which may not even happen, take the chance and put in an offer now with 10% off of the asking price. You never know, that offer might be accepted or at least negotiated. Buyers have power right now – so make use of it while you can.

Needs and wants

Once you have decided that buying a villa is the right option for you, then you should start thinking about narrowing down your needs, wants and areas. How many bedrooms do you need? Do you want a private pool and a maid’s room? What amenities would you like in the area you live? How far are you willing to drive to work, school etc.?

Consider and compare multiple areas and villa communities and look at them from various points of view. For example, try and find out who the master developers are of the communities you are considering. Knowing the master developer can provide some clues into the quality of amenities and upkeep of the community. Different communities may also only have villas of a certain size, type and age.

Think about quality and over quantity – from the overall size of the plot to the space inside. In most cases, quality usable space is better than having a huge plot that you do not actually need but will pay for in both the initial price and in on-going maintenance. Do you really need a six-bedroom villa with a private pool, or is a four-bedroom villa with an excellent shared pool and other facilities enough?

The process of deciding what you need and want, and where will be continuous. Once you start viewing properties you may realize other factors are more important to you, but it is worth having an idea of your basic requirements at least from the outset. If buying with a family, then once again at this stage it is key to bring them in and get their views too, so you are all on the same page.

Find a community expert

Once you have your list of must-haves do some research on the different places you are interested in and try to find real estate agents who are experts in those communities and areas. If you share you must-have list with a real estate agent who knows the community they operate in well, then they will be able to offer you advice as to whether that community is right for you.

An experienced and honest real estate agent who knows their community will be best placed to provide you with in-depth local knowledge on the area. They will give you the best advice on both the positive and negative aspects of the community and the properties you are considering. They should be on your side and if you have any concerns then they are a good contact to raise these concerns with.

Often clients will discuss their options and potential purchases with friends and family, some of whom do not even live in Dubai and will not understand the areas. Although it is good to discuss such an important purchase with your nearest and dearest, some aspects are best raised with an expert who can best advise you. If you are concerned about the price of the property or whether it has any issues in the past, raise these with your real estate agent. If they know the area, then they should be able to provide you with some assurances e.g. historical prices or information about the community which can help you make an informed and objective decision.

Property viewings

View the property options you are considering several times and at various points in the day. This will give you an idea on different aspects that you will not be able to assess from one viewing like how bright the space gets, how quiet or loud the area is and what the traffic is like at peak times.

If you are buying with your family, then take them along with you. Make it a joint decision and let them have some input. Having to take different family members wants and needs into consideration can make the process a bit more difficult. But if you have your basic list of must-haves agreed from the beginning then this should at least help keep you on track when viewing properties and still allow for everyone to feel like they are involved in the decision making.

Modifications

When it comes to buying a villa, one of the main benefits over an apartment is being able to make major modifications to the property. If there are changes that you are interested in making to a property that you are interested in buying, then is a good idea to check what is allowable.

Don’t proceed with a purchase if you have your hopes set on making major changes, such as knocking through a wall or installing a pool, without checking first. Your agent will be able to confirm with the master developer to see if the modifications will be accepted and whether there will be any extra charges.

Due diligence

This is an aspect for your real estate agent to deal with, but one that you should keep on top of. Once you have shortlisted some properties, make sure your agent is doing proper due diligence and the properties have all the correct documents e.g. title deeds. Find out from the agent whether it will be a straightforward transaction and if all the approvals are in place for the sale or if there is anything additional that you need to be aware of.

If you are using an agent who is an expert in that community then they should be able to give you a lot more information than others. You should ask your agent any questions necessary to make sure you feel comfortable with the transaction.

Get your finances in place and negotiate

But before putting in an offer on a villa, make sure you are in the strongest position possible by getting your finances in place. If you are planning to finance your purchase with a mortgage, then get your pre-approval sorted early as you do not want to find your dream villa and end up missing out to another buyer who is ready to progress with their purchase straight away.

A mortgage broker will be able to provide advice and assistance for the full mortgage process and will find the best home loan for you. Having your finances in place also means the seller is more likely to take you seriously and be more open to negotiate if you are able to move quickly.

Once you have got your mortgage pre-approval and found the villa you want then put in your offer and negotiate! When negotiating, remember if you are working with an honest and transparent real estate agent then they will be there to help you rather than work against you.

Sign the dotted line… then celebrate!

As you near the finishing line and ownership of your perfect villa is in sight, it is important that you remain vigilant. There are different documents required throughout the purchasing process which need to be signed by various parties to ensure the purchase is a success. Your real estate agent and mortgage broker, if using one, will be on-hand to assist and keep you and the seller on track. Once everything has been signed and the keys are in hand, get the balloons out and celebrate your new home!

Dubai really is an excellent place to buy for both residential and investment purposes. It has great future prospects and has invested a lot into attracting the best brains and talent from across the MENA region. It is a safe and secure environment for companies, and I believe this will naturally lead to further growth in all markets here, which means there is a definite long-term benefit of buying now while it is still affordable.

By Adrian Popica, General Manager at House Hunters Real Estate

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