Are you self-employed and looking to buy a property in the UAE? Learn about the most important considerations and potential options for financing your purchase.

Who's considered self-employed?

There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to self-employment and that’s why it can be confusing to determine whether you are considered self-employed or not. The unifying factors are that self-employed people work for themselves and report their own income instead of working for an employer. 

The majority of people that are self-employed are either independent contractors (aka freelancers) or business owners, including company owners, entrepreneurs, and CEOs. Independent contractors provide services or goods to businesses generally through a short-term contract and without being an actual company employee. They typically work with various clients at the same time and charge for either their service or labor. Business owners can include people working within many different business structures, including sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, S corporations, and limited liability companies (LLCs). These self-employed individuals run their own business either fully or partially and are responsible for the success or failure of their company. 

In this article, we’ll provide self-employed borrowers with an overview of the extra mortgage loan considerations, examples of loan offers, and a list of banks that could be feasible options.

Extra considerations when taking out a mortgage loan

For those of you that are self-employed and looking to buy a property or invest in real estate in the UAE, you may be wondering if you can take out a mortgage loan given your unique financial situation. The great news is that many lenders in the UAE offer loans to self-employed borrowers. However, since self-employment can come with less income stability and security, lenders will consider you a higher-risk borrower and take extra consideration before agreeing to finance your purchase. Some of the factors that will likely vary are the lending conditions, required documentation, and length of the process.

Conditions

In addition to the general conditions that you have to meet depending on your status as a UAE national,
resident expat, or non-resident, you’ll generally be required to demonstrate a higher income than if you were a salaried employee. If you’re a UAE national or resident, most lenders require a minimum income of AED 25,000. If you’re a non-resident, lenders typically require a minimum income of AED 40,000 for at least 3 months. Self-employed non-residents may also be able to qualify with an average account balance of AED 25,000 for at least 3 months. 

With regards to the borrower’s age, being self-employed may actually increase your ability to get a mortgage loan. UAE nationals are eligible if they’re between 21 and 70 years of age, whether they are self-employed or not. On the other hand, resident expats are only eligible if they’re between 21 and 65 years of age but eligible up to 70 years of age if they’re self-employed.

Documentation

Since self-employment affects your income, it makes sense that a lender will require additional documentation regarding your financial status. 

UAE nationals and residents that are self-employed must present:
  • Valid Trade License copy 
  • MOA (Memorandum of Association) including all amendments
  • Bank statements from the last 6 months
  • Audited financials from the last 2 years 

Non-residents that are self-employed must present:
  • Valid Trade License copy 
  • MOA (Memorandum of Association) including all amendments
  • Copy of Labor Contract
  • Copy of Chamber of Commerce Registration 
  • Copy of Partnership Page in case of multiple partners 
A clipboard with documents that are needed for a mortgage application.

Bank assessment methods

In order to accurately assess a self-employed individuals’ monthly income, banks in the UAE typically rely on one of the following methods:
  1. Audited financial statement method
  2. Bank statement method 
When using the audited financial statement method, banks examine the borrower’s audited reports from the last two years and then look at the profit made over those two years. The bank takes the lower annual profit and considers that as the annual income of the business. It’s important to note that banks will only accept applications where the year-over-year profit is increasing, in other words, when the profit from the second year is greater than the first year’s profit. This method is generally believed to be the safer option for banks since the income is assessed and verified by an auditor. 

On the other hand, the bank statement method is used by the majority of self-employed borrowers when there are no audited financial statements available. For this method, the bank looks at the company’s bank accounts and the business turnover in the past year. The bank adds up all the credits in their accounts (supported by invoices) and then applies a profit margin. A profit margin is a ratio of a company's profit divided by its revenue and is given as a percentage. Profit margins vary by industry (eg. 15% profit margin) and banks may also calculate the profit margin differently. By using a profit margin, the bank estimates the annual income of the business. 

Once the annual income is estimated through either of these methods, the bank divides this value by 12 to arrive at the monthly income. The monthly income for the business is then multiplied by the individual’s share in the company to estimate the final monthly income of the self-employed individual.

Length of the process

You should also plan for the mortgage process to take a bit longer. The lender has more conditions and documents to check when it comes to self-employed borrowers, so mortgage processing and underwriting will be a lengthier process. In general, you can expect mortgage processing in the UAE to take around 15-20 days or even longer if there are other unique circumstances. Contrasted with the 7-10 days it typically takes for a salaried employee's application to be processed, you’ll want to anticipate some extra time during this step.

Loan offer examples

Let’s look at some examples of loan offers for self-employed borrowers in the UAE. These examples were calculated for a “typical” mortgage loan scenario.  

Features of the chosen scenario include:
  • Purchase price of AED 1,000,000
  • Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 80% 
  • 25 years (300 months) loan term 

The key features of loan offers from 3 different lenders are below.
The monthly payment was calculated based on recently updated interest rates from each lender but will vary between lenders and based on the current market rates. 

Bank 1:
  • Monthly payment: AED 4,630 at 4.9% 
  • Conventional
  • Funding of properties on all emirates
  • Mandatory in-house life insurance
  • Rental income only and small building loans available
  • Business financials will be required
Bank 2:
  • Monthly payment: AED 4,813 at 5.29% 
  • Conventional
  • Up to 80% of selected associated fees can be added to the loan 
  • Mandatory in house life insurance
  • Optimized affordability criteria
  • Overpayments of 20% allowed per annum with no penalty
  • Pre-approval valid for 60 days
Bank 3:
  • Monthly payment: AED 5,422 at 6.54% 
  • Conventional and Islamic 
  • Overpayments of 25% allowed per annum with no penalty
  • External life insurance assignable on exception
  • Business financials will be required
  • Commercial finance available 

Next, you’ll find the upfront transaction costs associated with each of the loan offer examples.
Transaction costs (in AED)
Bank 1 Bank 2 Bank 3
Deposit 200,000 200,000 200,000
Bank processing fee 4,200 4,200 0
Bank valuation fee 3,150 3,150 2,625
Real estate agency fee 21,000 21,000 21,000
Land department transfer fee 40,000 40,000 40,000
Land department mortgage registration fee 2,290 2,290 2,290
Land department title fee 580 580 580
Land dept. / Trustee appointment fee 4,200 4,200 4,200
Service fee 5,250 5,250 5,250
Cash required upfront 280,670 280,670 275,945

As previously mentioned, these are just examples of loan offers not to be used for actual budgeting. These offer examples can help you get an idea of potential loan features and costs. Register here to get personalized loan offers with key features, transaction costs, and even more specifics.

Which banks offer loans to self-employed borrowers?

A list of the banks currently offering loans to self-employed borrowers in the UAE is below. There may be other smaller banks that also offer loans to self-employed borrowers. 

There are two main types of loans in the UAE: Islamic and conventional. Under Sharia Law, which specifically applies to Muslim nationals, banks are forbidden from charging interest on loans. As a workaround, banks can offer Islamic loans where they either buy the property on behalf of the customer and then charge monthly installments (Murabaha financing) or set up a buy-and-lease arrangement (Ijarah financing). Islamic loans are only available to UAE residents. However, banks can still choose to provide conventional loans and charge interest on loan repayments. Conventional loans are available to residents and non-residents, but individual banks may still not offer conventional loans to UAE non-residents depending on their own conditions and requirements. If you’re a non-resident borrower, be sure to confirm which lenders offer conventional loans to non-residents.
Banks with loan offers for self-employed borrowers
Bank Islamic Conventional
Emirates NBD
HSBC
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB)
First Abu Dhabi Bank Islamic
Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB)
RAKBank
United Arab Bank (UAB)
Mashreq
Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD)
Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB)
Standard Chartered Bank (SCB)
National Bank of Fujairah (NBF)
Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB)
Arab Bank (AB)
Ajman Bank
Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB)

To sum up

As a self-employed borrower in the UAE, you’re now better informed about the extra mortgage loan considerations, potential loan offers, and banks from which you could get a loan. While the process will require some additional steps, it’s still very possible to get a mortgage loan as a self-employed person, you just need to know your options. You can become even better prepared by learning about the entire home-buying process or how to get residency by investment through the Dubai Golden Visa

Instead of spending lots of time researching each bank to determine whether or not you qualify for a mortgage loan, you can use a mortgage broker. An international mortgage broker like Kredium can do the hard work for you, searching through multiple banks and loans to find you the best loan option given your specific situation. Kredium provides you with multiple personalized offers at the same time so you can compare your options side by side. Our brokers have expert insight into the UAE real estate market and know all the ins and outs, especially when it comes to helping foreigners (residents and non-residents) buy a property. Also, check out our mortgage calculator to estimate your total loan amount, monthly payment, and rental income.

Not only can we help you get a mortgage in the UAE, but we can also help you find your dream home or investment property. Our portfolio of over 5,000 properties from all of the largest developers in Dubai can meet every buyer’s needs, from style to location to price point. Sign-up or contact our UAE office to start getting expert guidance today!
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