Get the right agent
Location! is usually the first cry on buyers’ lips, but if you are new to the city or the buying game, finding a reputable estate agent is actually priority number one. He or she is going to be your eyes and ears for the duration of your search, and the process doesn’t have to be painful.
“Choose your agent carefully,” advises Adrian Popica, Residential Sales and Leasing Consultant, Betterhomes. “Although more regulated now, the real estate industry in Dubai still has some unethical agents looking to make a quick buck. Make sure your agent is Rera-registered, competent and most importantly looks after your interest not theirs.”
Get the cash together
Have your finances ready to roll because you might find your dream house quicker than you think. If you’re planning to buy through a mortgage, Popica advises first talking to the finance provider as it is crucial to know the borrowing limit. “There is nothing worse than putting an offer on a property and finding out that you don’t have enough funds to cover the purchase,” he says. Apart from being emotionally draining, you risk defaulting on the terms and conditions of the agreement and might lose your deposit.
Rajiv Ghanekar, Associate Director, Fine & Country real estate brokers, advises cash buyers to find out if the seller has an outstanding mortgage on the property and the outstanding loan amount. He says that international buyers should ensure that their complete funds have arrived locally, either in an Escrow (money held by a third party) or their own UAE savings account.
Is the view important?
Nobody wants to gaze upon power lines or find their garden backs onto the local fish market, so go and see the property rather than rely on photographs that can be altered to etch out minor (and even major) unsightly details. Yes everyone wants a great view, preferably from every room, says Ghanekar, but of course it comes at a premium. “This could translate into a price difference of about Dh500,000 to Dh1 million for standard apartments.”
Ghanekar’s advice is not to over-stretch your budget just for that view that you can still enjoy by simply taking a five-minute stroll. Though properties with a view do add character to the establishment, there is better scope for capital appreciation and it is quicker to rent or sell, he adds.
We all need good neighbours
In the UAE neighbours are much more than people to nod or frown at as you slam the door.
“The UAE is a melting point of nationalities and cultures,” says Popica. In the country’s many prestigious buildings at least five different nationalities can be living on the same floor.
“Although we all come from different backgrounds one thing we have learned is to respect others and their privacy,” he adds.
Ghanekar points out that most of us in the UAE don’t have a family network, so we tend to depend more on close friends and neighbours. “It is imperative to create good bonding relationships with your neighbours,” he says. It’s clear anywhere in the world that a cheerful greeting, a smile and a brief chat as you borrow a cup of sugar goes a long way to enhancing day-to-day life.
If you don’t want to be on the rough side of town, check out its reputation before you buy, although of course fashionable areas do change. It’s hard to believe today’s trendy Notting Hill district in London was filled with impoverished squatters in the 1970s.
“You cannot really say that there are bad neighbourhoods in Dubai because the security is very good in all the areas,” says Popica.
Ghanekar sees all freehold developments in Dubai having an individual appeal, so the choice is down to personal taste and lifestyle preferences. He urges potential buyers to think about their long-term needs, which could include whether children will come along sometime, whether the prospective buyers frequently entertain guests, how far they are willing to commute and what their current community is lacking.
Check out the locale
Before purchasing, drive though the neighbourhoods you have shortlisted to check out all the facilities such as schools, parks, supermarkets, banks and the ease of access to public transportation.
An easy route in and out is what residents of Discovery Gardens dream about. Although their situation is bound to eventually improve, queuing for hours to get home can cancel out the joy of owning your new homestead — you might even regret buying it.
Sean McCauley, Director, Asteco, asks prospective buyers, “Has the master developer delivered all road connections to the community? Is the area close to main arterial roads? Are taxis easily available and how easy is it to use public transport?” And Ghanekar suggests potential buyers drive the route during the peak traffic hours and study the overall master plan of the community.
What about the pets?
“Generally pets are allowed in villa communities rather than apartments, although some master communities are restricted to dogs and cats only with some basic rules in place,” says McCauley. Pet owners must gain the landlord’s permission and following that, the approval of building management or developer, for often even though a landlord has allowed a pet the community rules may deny it.
Staff accommodation – is this important?
Happy staff equals a happy home, so accommodation for full-time domestic help should be a priority for it increases savings, security and flexibility. “For certain properties this is really important.” says McCauley who finds that when a three-or four-bedroom apartment is for sale in a prime location, “one of the first questions buyers will ask is if the unit has a maid’s room. Larger families will insist on this.”