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When Buying Property in Dubai, Caveat Emptor

As we have pointed out before, Dubai is something of a dichotomy.  On the one hand it is the true embodiment of sophistication and advancement, but on the other hand it is old fashioned and corrupt.  And nowhere is this complete division more keenly felt than in the property market.

When buying property in Dubai it really and truly is a case of caveat emptor – i.e., ‘let the buyer beware,’ because whilst on the surface the market it glitzy, glamorous and sophisticated, underneath it can be a hotbed of bad deals, poor construction and extreme lack of transparency.

If you are thinking about buying a home or investment property in the emirate we can of course see the appeal, but as this article will show you, you need to tread very carefully indeed to ensure that your purchase is a smooth and successful one.

As with almost every overseas property market you’ll easily be able to hear and read about horror stories relating to Dubai’s real estate market.  You’ll hear about people being ripped off, losing their deposit, inheriting debts and buying a very poorly constructed property.  But at the same time, you’ll also be able to see for yourself that Dubai’s is a very mixed market.  There are some stunning and superior properties for sale that have been built to the highest standards by reputable developers, who will do nothing to ever compromise their reputation and standing.  Which is why you have to do your own research into the market and find out where and from whom you’re happy to buy.

When it comes to employing the services of an agent to help you find a property, you need to take recommendations and also go with your gut feel.  Some agents are professional, some are sharks.  Never sign any form of contract with an agent forcing you to buy through them or use their services exclusively, and find out from the word go what, if anything, you will have to pay for their services.

In terms of understanding the rules of the property buying process in Dubai, understand this, there are no rules!  That which you see written are only guidelines to the process the path to property purchase should follow!  You will find a million idiosyncrasies in your own path to a property purchase, and along the way you may be unlucky enough to fall foul of some of the less reputable people working in the real estate market.

Try and take recommendations for agents, developers, developments and lawyers from friends, colleagues or trusted individuals who have no interest in your purchase of a property.  All too often someone involved in the sale will recommend you use the services of another individual, and you find they are getting a back hander for their recommendation and that it is based on nothing more than their greed.  You have to protect yourself every single step of the way…and nowhere do you need to be more careful than in the selection of your solicitor.  These are the ones who can ruin you if they turn against you or if you find out too late that they are actually corrupt and not on your side at all.

It has happened time and time again that a lawyer does things in a slapdash manner in the first place, failing to record all elements of the transaction correctly, then when the buyer subsequently comes to sell, they find they are in a difficult or even impossible situation that has to be rectified at a cost before the sale can proceed.

Remember never to lose your temper either – one famous story does the rounds regularly in Dubai amongst those comparing property buying horror stories – it’s about an American who was so fed up with the pathetic lies he was receiving from his developer in the form of excuses as to why his property was so badly finished, that he went into the developers offices and let rip with a few choice expletives.  He was arrested, fined and imprisoned…

Property in Dubai is much in demand and highly sought after, it can make for a high returning investment asset, it can provide you with an incredible home, the likes of which you’ll probably never find anywhere else, but the market is full of sharks and the buying process is far from transparent.  So tread very carefully and very wearily and think about every single element of the transaction.  If something appears too good to be true or an element of the sale is progressing too smoothly, look for the catch.  And at the same time, don’t sign anything without reading and re-reading it, don’t be forced into anything and don’t take steps or accept standards that you wouldn’t if you were back home in a familiar property market landscape.  With this advice in mind, and remembering that it is a case of caveat emptor, you should be tough enough to survive in Dubai’s property jungle!

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