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Questions to ask when buying an off-plan property

Off-plan properties are quite the norm in the UAE, but it’s still important to ask the right questions so you know exactly what you’re spending your money on.

A couple sitting on the sofa and typing questions about off-plan properties on their laptop

What does off-plan mean?

Off-plan properties are bought directly from the developer before the property has been constructed. These are not ready to move into, generally from six months to three years, after you put down your initial payment of 20-50%.

Are there any risks?

There are definitely risks and cons in buying an off-plan property that it’s important to keep in mind: Development delays can push back handover and control is out of your hands until the property is complete.

Questions about off-plan properties

What does the developer’s completion history look like?

It’s always handy to have an idea about the history of your chosen developer. In terms of both the reputation of the developer, as well as the on-time development completion record. It’s good to ask about successful previous projects and the average sale price. Do some reason on how the properties in previous projects have appreciated over time.

What else can I see?

Since off-plan properties are still under construction so you might not be able to see your property before purchase. Some off-plan projects have showrooms, but it’s always handy to check if there are renders or 3D tours available to complement the floor plan of your chosen unit.

What happens if there are delays?

Off-plan projects can sometimes come with delays. Developers are given a 12-month buffer to delay the handover of the project from the date of the handover. If the delay goes beyond 12 months, you can ask for compensation for the handover delay. It’s good to check with your real estate agent about the existence of an exit clause, in case you change your mind.

What will I be able to customize?

Check how customizable your home will be once you move in as some developers will limit customization and renovation, such as knocking down walls or extensions, to certain parts of the home only. But usually, you should be okay to customize the kitchen cabinets and flooring.

How much deposit do I need to buy off the plan?

When buying an off-plan property, you’ll most likely need to pay at least a 20% deposit and the 4% DLD fee when you sign the contract, with the balance due when it’s finished. However, it’s most important to double-check with your real estate agent about all possible payment requirements or options, so as to not get any unexpected surprises after the purchase.

How long does an off-the-plan apartment take to build?

The handover date is usually provided on the initial project marketing material that you will receive and your real estate agent should be able to give you the latest handover date. You can also get construction status updates on the Dubai Land Department website or Dubai REST App.

What fees do I need to pay when buying an off-plan property?

The fee breakdown for buying an off-plan property is as follows: Dubai Land Department fee: 4% of property purchase price + AED 40 admin fee, and Oqood certification (pre-title deed): AED 5,250.

Can I get a mortgage to buy off the plan?

Definitely, but only close to the handover date (the last milestone)! The maximum loan-to-value ratio is 50%, which applies to both UAE nationals, as well as expats, and non-residents. It’s best to talk to a mortgage consultant to help find the right bank and bank rate to secure a mortgage for your off-plan property.

That’s why Huspy is handy – we are a one-stop solution with both property and mortgage consultants, so you can find and finance your new home.


Written by Sana Telalovic

Published on 2 May 2023

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