Buying a property, whether it is the first or 21st is a big deal for most people. Whether it is for investment purposes or to live in usually involves a significant percentage of a person’s wealth. Therefore every precaution should be taken before committing fully to such an investment.
I have bought and sold properties in several European countries and also in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Whilst the basics are the same I have noticed the attitude of potential buyers is very different. The legal assistance most people seek automatically elsewhere is rarely considered in UAE. This is particularly concerning as most purchasers are aware of the fact that they are buying property in a country governed under Shariah law of which most are unfamiliar. They often have questions about Shariah law but do not seek independent legal advice to determine how this may affect their particular purchase. Whilst real estate agents, mortgage brokers and financial advisers may have a general understanding of the law, they should not be relied upon to give accurate and up to date legal advice, unless they can provide proof of additional qualifications covering this area. So take independent legal advice.
The other area that is very different is the consideration given to obtaining a valuation report. When a purchaser needs to borrow money from a bank, the bank will instruct a valuation. However the bank inspection report may not always be available to the purchaser (even though they pay for it) and even when it is available the reports are usually very brief. Whilst the bank may be investing more of its money into the property than the purchaser, it is the purchaser who will need to repay the debt whatever may come. Therefore it is prudent for the purchaser to know exactly what he or she is buying. This is becoming increasingly important as some of the properties available to expats are approaching 10 years old so it is natural to see some wear and tear. Though it is important to be able to determine the difference between wear and tear and fundamental structural problems.
There is no government prescribed valuation format for residential property. However most valuers are members of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This is a global organisation with over 100,000 members. RICS has an office in Dubai due to the large number of members within the Middle East. The institution promotes and regulates surveyors and valuers. To be a member, codes of practice and ethics must be adopted as well as using standardised reports for various types of service. This means that whilst there is no mandated government form, the industry does provide one which their regulator believes covers the important points to consider when valuing a property. Therefore, just as property purchasers should use the services of a lawyer when buying a property, they should also use the services of a RICS member to provide a comprehensive study of the property before committing to the purchase. If problems are uncovered the investor may have had a lucky escape or he may be able to use it as a negotiating tool when discussing the final price offered. If no problems are uncovered then it is less likely that there will be any nasty surprises when the purchaser takes possession. RICS can be found at www.rics.org
I hope the above was useful, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.