Explore and understand the process for non-residents buying property in the UAE

In recent years the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is made up of seven Emirates including Dubai, has emerged as a prime destination for real estate, attracting buyers from all around the world.

The UAE boasts world-class infrastructure, modern amenities, a high standard of living, and excellent connectivity to Europe, Asia, and Africa, which has made it an appealing location for expats looking to improve their standard of living. 

The United Arab Emirates hasn't just become popular because of its ever-growing popularity with partygoers and views full of yachts and skyscrapers. 

The UAE offers a tax-free environment, including no capital gains tax, inheritance tax, or income tax on any profit made from renting. This has made it the perfect locale for those looking to invest in real estate. 

But what are the rules for non-residents? 

In this blog, we have put together a detailed overview of the process, legal considerations, and financial implications of buying property in the UAE for non-residents. 

Skyline photo of the buildings and skyscrapers in the city of Dubai, UAE, on a sunny day.

Table of contents: 

Understanding the UAE property market 

The property market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an evolving sector, characterised by its rapid development, high investment potential, and diverse offerings.

With its strategic location, world-class infrastructure, and favourable business environment, the UAE has positioned itself as a leading real estate hub in the Middle East.

Let's explore the property market in the UAE a little bit more...

Key Cities and Regions


Nestled on the southern coast of the Persian Gulf, Dubai sits as a dazzling metropolis that has quickly risen to global prominence as a premier real estate destination. 

Infamous for its towering skyscrapers, opulent lifestyle, and pioneering infrastructure, Dubai is a city where visionary ambition meets architectural marvels.

The residential market in Dubai:

The residential market is diverse, with offerings ranging from high-end villas and apartments in areas like Downtown Dubai, Palm Jumeirah, and Dubai Marina, to more affordable housing in communities such as Jumeirah Village Circle and International City. 

The commercial market in Dubai: 

Dubai's commercial property sector includes prime office spaces in Business Bay, Dubai International Financial Centre (DFIC), and Sheikh Zayed Road. Retail spaces are also sought after in mega malls like The Dubai Mall and Mall of the Emirates. 

As Dubai continues to evolve, embracing sustainability and smart city initiatives, its real estate sector remains at the forefront of innovation and growth.

Whether you're looking to invest, reside, or simply explore the myriad possibilities, Dubai is full of opportunity in the ever-expanding global property market.

Abu Dhabi

As the largest of the UAE's seven emirates, Abu Dhabi is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, lush landscapes, and a strategic vision that draws property buyers worldwide.

Often confused with Dubai, Abu Dhabi is the UAE's capital city and offers a more stable and less volatile property market than Dubai, with significant government-backed developments.

The residential market in Abu Dhabi: 

Key residential areas include Al Reem Island, Saadiyat Island, and Yas Island, which offer a mix of luxury apartments, villas, and townhouses. 

Al Reem Island hosts luxurious waterfront properties whilst the cultural haven of Saadiyat Island and family-friendly communities in Al Raha Beach and Yas Island ensure there is something perfect for everyone.

The commercial market in Abu Dhabi: 

Abu Dhabi's commercial property sector is equally impressive, with prime office spaces and retail hubs strategically located in areas like Al Maryah Island and the Central Business District, providing the opportunity for businesses to thrive. 

As Abu Dhabi continues to embrace sustainable development and smart city initiatives, the future of its real estate marketing looks promising. 

The government's proactive policies, such as long-term visas for investors and favourable foreign ownership laws, have further bolstered investor confidence, making Abu Dhabi an attractive destination for locals, and international property buyers. 


As the third-largest emirate in the UAE, Sharjah stands out for its commitment to preserving its historical roots whilst embracing contemporary urbanization.

Most famous for its family-friendly atmosphere, vibrant arts scene, and educational institutions, Sharjah offers a distinctive blend of tradition and modernity which appeals to a diverse range of residents and property investors.

In comparison to Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sharjah is relatively affordable, making it an increasingly popular destination for families with more children.

The residential market in Sharjah: 

Areas with budget-friendly apartments like Al Nahda and Muwaileh are popular with expats/non-residents, along with the more luxurious waterfront villas in Al Khan and Al Mamzar. These areas all offer cost-effective living. 

The commercial market in Sharjah: 

The commercial property sector is currently expanding in Sharjah, with thriving business hubs in areas like Al Majaz and Al Qasba, which cater to both SMEs and larger enterprises.

In recent years, the government of Sharjah has been proactive in implementing policies to stimulate the real estate sector, including the introduction of freehold property ownership for expatriates in designated areas, and the development of large-scale projects like Sharjah Waterfront City and Aljada.

The initiatives along with ongoing infrastructure improvements and sustainable development plans, are driving growth and attracting significant investment.

How much does property cost in the UAE?

The average cost of property in the UAE varies significantly depending on the location and type of property: 

The average cost of property in Dubai



The real estate market in Dubai is diverse, with prices reflecting the varying demand and development levels of different neighbourhoods. 

The market is expected to remain stable throughout the rest of 2024.

The average cost of property in Abu Dhabi 


  • The average price of apartments in Abu Dhabi is around AED 1,064 (£228) per square foot. 

  • The most expensive properties, for example, those located on Al Reem Island, average around AED 1.27 million (£273,000). 


  • The average price of villas in Abu Dhabi is about AED 871 (£187) per square foot. 

  • Saadiyat Island: The average price is around AED 8.73 million (£1.87 million)

  • Yas Island: The average price for a villa is around AED 4 million (£858,000) 

The average cost of property in Sharjah


  • The average cost of a one-bedroom apartment ranges from AED 679,000 to AED 790,000 (£146,000 to £169,850), depending on the area and specific features of the property. 

  • The average cost of a four-bedroom townhouse in Sharjah is approximately AED 2.6 million (£570,000), but prices start at around AED 1.6 million (£344,00). 


The price of villas can range widely based on size and location in Sharjah. 
  • The average price for a 3-bedroom villa: AED 2.4 million (£516,000). 

  • The average price of a 5-bedroom villa: AED 3.8 million (£817,000).

Birds eye view/photo of a resort in the UAE, various buildings and pools.

Legal framework for non-residents buying property in the UAE

The legal framework for non-residents looking to buy property in the UAE has evolved to accommodate foreign investment, whilst ensuring clear regulations.

Here is a brief overview of the main aspects of the legal framework for non-residents looking to buy property in the UAE and specific Emirates: 

Freehold areas in the UAE: 

Non-residents can buy properties on a freehold basis in designated areas. Freehold ownership means that the buyer owns the property and the land it stands on indefinitely. 

Leasehold areas in the UAE: 

In some areas, properties are available on a leasehold basis - typically for 99 years. This means the buyer leases the property from the landowner for the duration of the lease term.

Specific Emirate Property Regulations

What are the property regulations in Dubai? 

Designated freehold areas in Dubai 

Non-residents can purchase property in specific areas, such as Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Palm Jumeirah, and other designated zones. 

Registering a property in Dubai

All property transactions must be registered with the Dubai Land Department. This includes paying the relevant fees, which are typically around 4% of the property value. 

Title Deed:

Once the transaction is completed, the buyer will receive a title deed, which serves as legal proof of ownership. 

What are the property regulations in Abu Dhabi?

Freehold investment zones 

Non-residents can buy property in designated investment zones, such as Al Reem Island, Saadiyat Island, Yas Island, and others.

What are the property terms Usufruct and Musataha in Abu Dhabi? 

In addition to freehold, Abu Dhabi offers long-term lease arrangements, known locally as "usufruct" (up to 99 years) and "musataha" (up to 50 years - with the option to renew).

Registration of property in Abu Dhabi

Property transactions must be registered with the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT). 

What are the property regulations in Sharjah? 

Limited freehold 

In Sharjah, non-residents are generally restricted from buying freehold property. 

Instead, non-residents have the option to purchase properties on a leasehold basis for up to 100 years in specific projects. 

Mixed-use developments

Some developments, like Tilal City, allow foreign ownership under specific conditions. 

Other legal considerations for non-residents and property in the UAE

Gaining a mortgage in the UAE

Non-residents can obtain mortgages from UAE banks, but the terms may vary.

Banks often require a higher down payment from foreign buyers. This is typically around 20-25% of the property value. 

Inheritance law implications 

Property ownership for non-residents is subject to UAE inheritance laws, which can differ significantly if you are an expat. 

Getting a visa

Owning property worth AED 1 million or more in the UAE may mean you qualify as a buyer for a renewable residence visa - although this visa will not grant you the right to work in the UAE.

The process of buying property in the UAE as a non-resident

Research and selection 

If you are thinking about buying property in the UAE, we advise you to start by researching different areas and developments to find a property that meets your needs and budget. 

To help you refine your search we suggest you engage with reputable real estate agents and explore online property portfolios to obtain more accurate information. 

Viewing and shortlisting

Once you have a list of potential properties, you should begin scheduling viewings immediately. 

Other people will likely be interested in at least one of the properties you've shortlisted, so the sooner you can arrange a viewing the better.

When viewing your potential property, ensure the property meets your expectations regarding location, amenities, and condition. 

Making an offer 

Once you have selected the property you'd like to make an offer on, there are several steps to follow - the first being the identification of the property you are making an offer on. 

  1. Get a pre-approved mortgage (if applicable) 

    If financing is required, you will need to obtain a pre-approval letter from a bank, so that you are clear on what your budget is and can demonstrate you are a serious foreign buyer. 

  2. Hire a real estate agent in the UAE

    Next, we suggest you hire a licensed real estate agent in the UAE, although this isn't a requirement, hiring an estate agent to negotiate terms, handle paperwork, and ensure all legal requirements are covered, will help the process move much smoother. 

  3. Make a formal offer 

    To make a formal offer on a property in the UAE, you will need to prepare an official offer letter. This should include the offered price, terms of purchase, and any conditions of the purchase. If you have an estate agent this letter is usually submitted by them. 

  4. Negotiate

    Unfortunately, once you've made an offer the seller may accept, reject, or counter the offer. You should be prepared to negotiate the selling price, closing date, and any contingencies. 

  5. Sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

    Once terms have been agreed on, both parties (buyer and seller) will need to sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). This document outlines the agreed-upon terms and conditions on both sides.

Finalising the sale

  • The sale and purchase agreement is to be drafted and signed which is the final binding contract. 

  • Pay the transfer fees to the relevant authority, usually around 4% of the sale price. (e.g. Dubai Land Department, if you're looking to buy property in Dubai).

  • Final payment: Complete the remaining payment according to the agreed terms for the property purchase in the UAE. 

Transfer of ownership

Once the sale has been finalised, the transfer of ownership will take place. 

This will include: 

  • Transfer of deed: Both parties must attend the transfer appointment which will be held at the relevant authority, for the property deed to be transferred.

  • New title deed: Receive the new title deed, now in your name.

For further information regarding the process of buying property in the UAE as a non-resident, you can contact our expert team today, we're always available to answer your questions. 

Boats on a river in the city of Dubai, UAE, on a sunny day.

Breakdown of costs for buying property in the UAE for non-residents

Of course, the main cost here will be the price of the property you are looking to buy in the UAE. 

As we've seen from above this can vary quite a lot depending on the type of property you're looking at purchasing. 

Other main costs are also involved in the process though, these include: 

  • A transfer fee, related to the transfer of the deed, as previously mentioned above, will be around 4% of the property value, to be paid to the relevant authority within the UAE Emirate in which you are looking to buy property, as a non-resident. 

  • A real estate agent fee, if you wish to use them for your property purchase. This is usually 2% of the property value. 

  • If you are buying a property from a developer, there may be additional fees for registration and other admin costs. 

  • Maintenance fees, these are payable to the property management company for the upkeep of common areas and facilities.

Can non-residents buy property in the UAE? A summary

In short, non-residents can buy property in the UAE, but it involves navigating a well-defined process with distinct legal and financial considerations. 

By understanding the market, engaging with professional agents, and being aware of the associated costs, non-residents can make informed decisions and capitalise on the UAE real estate market's lucrative opportunities. 

Whether for personal use or investment, the UAE presents a compelling case for foreign buyers worldwide. 

Let EasyFX make your property purchase in the UAE, easy. 

Since 2008, EasyFX has supported and guided non-residents with overseas property purchases across the world, including the UAE.

From putting people in contact with real estate agents and lawyers to helping them save on their international money transfers with no added fees and exchange rates that favour them and their hard-earned money.

We're here to help you make your dreams of buying a property abroad, easy. 

As an FCA and FINTRAC-regulated and authorised financial institution, you can have peace of mind knowing that your funds are always safe, and secure in segregated client accounts. 

Over 40,000+ happy customers use EasyFX for their foreign exchange needs and with an Excellent Trustpilot rating, you can trust our team, to find you the best exchange rates, at the right time for you. 

If you'd like to discuss more options regarding property purchases in the UAE, please contact us today or submit a free transfer quote form, to start a conversation with our dedicated expert brokers. 
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Need to transfer money to the UAE? We can help.

At EasyFX, our goal is to make international money transfers affordable, smooth, and easy, for everyone. Whether a small transfer or large transaction, we can cater to all types through our money transfer app, or our expert brokers, who are ready to find you the best rate available, saving you money.

If you'd like to receive a free transfer quote, please contact our team today!

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