STOCK Dubai skyline
Dubai property market has had back-to-back sales of Dh400 million plus homes. But the action in the under Dh2 million space is getting as robust. Image Credit: Dubai Media office

Dubai: End-user buyers seeking homes priced between Dh1 million to Dh3 million are making a strong return to the Dubai property market, further fuelling the developer rush to launch projects that fall within this price range.

The return of demand can also be seen in the rise in mortgage deals being signed off in the year-to-date, banking industry sources confirm. April and May have been rated as ‘outstanding’ for mortgage demand, as end-user buyers lock in bank financing to go with what they can put up as equity.

This buying of mid-priced is what’s giving the ongoing Dubai property market surge its depth, even as at the top end of the market, more deals are happening at Dh400 million plus. (Whatever be the deal size, a theme that’s being repeated is that buyers/investors plan on being residents of the UAE for a long time.)

Amidst all this, the mid-priced home buyers – the majority of them first-time investors in Dubai real estate - are not being dissuaded from entering the market. Despite the 10 interest rate hikes since March 2022, whereby fixed-rate mortgages are around the 5 per cent mark and floating rates come up to 7 per cent or thereabouts.

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“We’re seeing an average purchase price of Dh2.8 million, while 46 per cent of our applicants are purchasing below Dh2 million,” said Michael Hunter, CEO and co-founder of Dubai-based Holo, the mortgage advisory platform. “As home prices have risen, the types of property being bought may have changed.

“The standard payment plan will see developers take 20 per cent payment during construction with the remaining on handover. If you’re buying offplan, you can finance the balance once the property is ready to take handover.

“The reason more people are opting for offplan properties is not due to developer payment plans, but rather the lack of supply for well-priced properties that meet buyer needs. As we see a shift from investor-buyers to end-users, the preference would always be a ready property.

“But when there are no properties in budget that meet the homeowner’s criteria, they opt offplan.”

We are seeing is buyers opting for shorter fixed-interest rate periods, of between 1-5 years. Historically we would see 5-year fixed rates being the norm whereas now we are seeing buyer opt for 1-3 year.

- Michael Hunter of Holo

That buyer hesitation is going - and gone

Checking the year-to-date numbers, one thing is clear. There are no signs of the hesitation end-user buyers had at the end of 2022 when mortgage rates keep getting hiked and many decided to postpone purchases. Banking sector sources had at the time spoken about 30-40 per cent dips in their mortgage disbursals during the fourth quarter.

It is that hesitation working in developers’ favour as they seed the market with new offplan launches. Locations such JVC, Expo City and Dubai South, Al Furjan, new launches at JLT and elsewhere benefitted as these investors finally decided they better buy now. This is the prevailing mood among end-users. And if the US Federal decides to hold back on more rate hikes, that mood can last a while yet.

When we look at the general Dubai property market - and even the lower end of the prime market - this is probably the busiest we have ever been. The level of activity doesn't look like it will slow down going into H2-23

- Mark Castley of

Look to mid-priced options

“Because of the strong performance of Dubai’s luxury and ultra-luxury sectors, this priced out a number of participants who are now buying into the mid-market space,” said Abdullah Alajaji, CEO and founder of Driven Properties. “Thereby spurring increased demand."

The Chinese are getting active

If Russian and other Europe buyers were busiest in the local property market, more signs are starting to show of Chinese funding inflows. “We expect to see significant capital coming from China and other parts of Asia throughout the year and leading into next year,” said Alajaji, echoing the sentiments of many in the industry. “When it comes to Europe, Germany, France, and the UK have been extremely active over the past 3 years.”

For the secondary market though, the vast majority of transactions from overseas buyers are using their own equity without resorting to bank loans of mortgages. For us, 92% of all secondary transactions done by non-residents were financed through own equity

- Abdullah Alajaji of Driven Properties

A lot of estate agents and developers will be brushing up their language skills in Mandarin. The property portal says it’s the first in the UAE property market to introduce the Chinese language option on the site.

Haider Ali Khan, is the Head of Dubizzle Group MENA and CEO of Bayut and dubizzle. He states the move was an absolute given based on what’s likely to pan out. "Looking at the growing interest of Chinese investors in the region, the introduction of the Chinese language option perfectly aligns with our mission to provide a seamless property search experience.”

What should you buy – ready or offplan?

Dubai property values have been growing at well over 20 per cent in the last 12 months. So far, signs of prices stabilising have not been seen.

Mark Castley, CEO of, says getting the right price on an offplan home is all about timing for the buyer. 

“Offplan does still offer a lower buying threshold - provided that buyers can get the initial stock,” said Castley. “Once an offplan project goes on to the resale market, the lack of stock will push prices upward.

“There is no stabilization between secondary and offplan happening yet. The secondary market continues to move at a terrific pace with property values still increasing steadily.”

Listings drop?

Castley does not see any major drop off in listings of ready homes for sale in Dubai. What has changed is that ‘fake’ listings have disappeared after the Dubai Land Department crack down last year. Tighter rules have brought in fresh transparency into the entire process. (DLD also mandated tough requirements before agents or property firms could even place a home for sale.)

“With a lot of fake listings disappearing from portals, it may give the impression that listings are slowing down,” said Castley. “Our team would certainly say otherwise with the level of activity they're seeing.”