Dubai’s real estate market is paradise for investors and home buyers. The fact that you’re reading this indicates you recognize Dubai's potential as an investment or living destination, and you are seeking information that will help you make an informed decision. We've got you covered.
UAE nationals, expats, and non-residents alike may find the process of investing in or buying a home in Dubai overwhelming because of the many steps involved and the sea of information available. However, the property buying experience needn’t be difficult for you, as the Dubai Land Department (DLD) has streamlined and innovated the experience to a great extent. 

Dubai Land Department (DLD) is a government-run entity, that offers customers a highly integrated, transparent, and secure range of services. The institution is so essential that all real estate purchases in Dubai and all mortgages must be registered through the DLD. While the DLD is your friend and good middleman in the property buying process, their services are not free – DLD charges standard government fees as well as administration fees.

To learn more about DLD and its services for homebuyers and investors, see the breakdown of the property buying process (including documentation and other relevant details), gain a better understanding of DLD fees and take note of a few other important facts you need to keep in mind when buying a property in Dubai. 

DLD services for homebuyers and investors

Dubai Land Department (DLD) is a real estate regulatory institution whose primary functions are:
  • overseeing all real estate trading operations in Dubai,
  • approving, managing, and registering all real estate transactions, and
  • handling the transfer of property ownership and mortgages.
DLD offers over 160 different services to buyers, sellers, investors, developers, and real estate agents. In addition to RERA, an administratively independent body that regulates the real estate operations and the property sector in Dubai, DLD keeps track of and registers “certified” real estate agencies and banks. The key services for home buyers and investors are part of the wider Real Estate Transaction Services, specifically:

Sale Registration 

The purpose of this service is to register a sale transaction (full/partial) for the purchase of land or property (complete or under construction), between the seller and buyer, or their legal representatives).

Mortgage Registration 

The purpose of this service is to register mortgages of all types on properties for the benefit of the financier in order to guarantee the property owner’s rights.

Usufruct Registration/Musataha  

The purpose of this service is to register the sale of a usufruct (leasehold) right. In cases of long-term leases, the beneficiaries can use and benefit from a property owned by others for up to 99 years, or they may apply for Musataha registration, which allows them to construct a building on the property and use it for up to 50 years. 

In addition to the above, DLD customer service includes confirming ownership and regularly reporting on real estate transactions (the number of registered sales and mortgages), property valuation, popular neighborhoods, and up-to-date information on the current state of the market. The process of evaluating real estate includes checking for existing and nonexistent debts, any claims, disputes or violations, real estate market data, and state-specific data. 

If you want to learn about all services offered by DLD, here’s the full list.

DLD – Process breakdown

After signing the sale agreement, aka Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) or Form F (RERA real estate forms in Dubai, available on the DLD website) before a witness at the Registration Trustee Office (list of offices with locations and contact information available here), the buyer pays a standard 10% security deposit on the property to the Registration Trustee (returned once the property transfer is finalized).

The next step involves applying for a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the developer and paying (an administrative fee of AED 500, usually paid by the seller) in order to clear the property for sale and transfer the ownership from seller to buyer. This is typically done at the developer’s office, where both the buyer and the seller need to be present. The NOC is obtained to ensure that the property you’re purchasing doesn't have any offences under applicable laws and that the seller has paid all the service charges relating to the property.

Here’s where the DLD comes into play. In order to execute the NOC and complete the real estate transaction, the buyer needs to bring the following documents to the DLD. In some instances, this can be done online (more details are provided later in the article):
  • manager’s cheque for the property price payable to the seller,
  • original identification documents of buyer and seller (Emirates ID, passport, and visa) ,
  • original NOC issued by the developer,
  • signed Contract F (MOU).
Upon settling the final payment and additional fees, the buyer obtains a new title deed (certificate of ownership in Dubai), registered and issued by the DLD. But, how do you, as a buyer, get to the title deed?

a) Sale Registration

If you’re requesting a sale registration, you need the sale form and the following documents:
  • Electronic No Objection Certificate (eNOC) from the developer in the freehold areas (through Dubai Rest Application),
  • Emirates ID Card of buyer and seller or valid passport for Non-residents,
  • Power of Attorney (only if you’re appointing someone on your behalf).

Where and how can you finalize the sale registration?

You have two options; you can proceed via the service center or you can do it via the Dubai Rest Application. If you choose the former, then you need to follow these steps:
  • Go to one of the Real Estate Registration Trustee offices,
  • Submit the required documents to the employee and make sure that they are complete, (all required documents are uploaded via DLD Document Vault),
  • Wait for the transaction data to be entered into the system and get verified,
  • Pay the fees and receive a receipt for payment,
  • Receive the output through email.
If you choose the latter, then follow these steps:
  1. Open Dubai REST App,
  2. Select “Services” from the bottom menu,
  3. Select “Buy Property” from the list,
  4. Enter the “Booking Reference number” (received from the seller),
  5. Enter the OTP (received on email/mobile),
  6. Follow the wizard to proceed,
  7. View the “Property Details” (booking details and owner details),
  8. Click on “Accept” to proceed,
  9. Verify your details and enter the missing details,
  10. Upload the required documents and click on “Submit”.
At this point, you have successfully submitted your booking request, which has now been sent to the Auditor for review. After these steps, you then:
  1. Open Dubai REST App,
  2. Select “Services” from the bottom menu,
  3. Select “Buy Property” from the list,
  4. Enter the “Booking Reference number” (received from the seller),
  5. Enter the OTP (received on email/mobile),
  6. Verify the details and click on “Proceed to Payment”,
  7. Follow the wizard to proceed,
  8. Enter the required payment Information either by paying “Full Amount” or “Booking Amount”,
  9. Accept the Terms and click on “Pay Now”.
Services section selected on the Dubai REST App, showing a list of sub-sections
Now you’ll be redirected to the Noqodi Payment Page. Follow the steps for payment, once you successfully finalize the payment, you’ll be able to “Download Certificate”.

Where can you complete the registration?

  • Real Estate Registration Trustees offices (outside)
  • Dubai Rest Application

What do you receive once registration is completed?

  • Title Deed
  • Fee Balances
  • Map

How long will this service take?

  • 25-30 minutes

b) Mortgage Registration

If you’re requesting a mortgage registration, you need the mortgage form and the following documents, depending on whether you’re doing it through the Real Estate Registration Trustees offices or through the bank (electronically).

In case you chose the Real Estate Registration Trustees offices option, then you will need:
  • Letter from the mortgagee bank,
  • Three mortgage contracts certified by the mortgagee bank and signed by both parties,
  • Emirates ID card of the owner or valid passport copy for Non-residents,
  • Electronic No Objection Certificate (eNOC) from the developer in the freehold areas (through Dubai Rest Application),
  • Power of Attorney (only if you’re appointing someone on your behalf).
Through Bank (electronically), you only need:
  • Electronic No Objection Certificate (eNOC) from the developer in the freehold areas (through Dubai Rest Application).

Where and how can you finalize the mortgage registration?

You have two options; you can proceed via the electronic system, or you can do it via the service center. If you choose the former, then you need to follow these steps:
  • Prepare the mortgage requirements with the bank,
  • Then you wait for the bank employee to enter all the required documents via the electronic mortgage system and for the transaction to be audited by the bank auditor (All required documents are uploaded via DLD Document Vault). The transaction is then sent to DLD for verification and DLD's fees are deducted from the bank account. The certificate and the mortgage poster are issued by DLD's employee,
  • Wait for the bank to contact you to visit the branch and receive the outputs.
A person signing a bunch of forms and documents on a table.
If you choose the latter, then follow these steps:
  • Go to one of the Real Estate Registration Trustee offices,
  • Submit the required documents to the employee and make sure that they are complete (All required documents are uploaded via DLD Document Vault),
  • Wait for the transaction data to be entered into the system and get verified,
  • Pay the fees and receive a receipt for payment,
  • Receive the output through email.

Where can you complete the registration?

  • Dubai Land Department's website (eMortgage system)
  • Real Estate Registration Trustees offices

What do you receive once registration is completed?

  • Title Deed
  • Fee Balance
  • Mortgage Paper

How long will this service take?

  • 20-25 minutes

c) Usufruct Registration/Musataha

If you’re requesting a Usufruct Registration/Musataha, you need the Usufruct Registration Form and the following documents:
  • Electronic No Objection Certificate (eNOC) from the developer in the freehold areas (through Dubai Rest Application),
  • Emirates ID Card for the seller or copies of valid passports for non-residents,
  • Power of Attorney (only if you’re appointing someone on your behalf).

Where and how can you finalize the usufruct registration?

You have only one option here; you can proceed via the service center and follow these steps:

Where can you complete the registration?

  • Go to one of the Real Estate Registration Trustee offices,
  • Submit the required documents and make sure that they are complete (All required documents are uploaded via DLD Document Vault),
  • Wait for the transaction data to be entered into the system and get verified,
  • Pay the fees and receive a receipt for payment,
  • Receive the output through email.
  • Real Estate Registration Trustees offices (outside)

What do you receive once registration is completed?

  • Title Deed
  • Fee Balances
  • Map

How long will this service take?

  • 35-40 Minutes

Fees

All the fees associated with buying a property in Dubai are listed below.
A small toy house placed on a calculator.

What are the fees?

Property Transfer and Registration Fees are the main fee types involved in the property buying process that are payable to the Dubai Land Department. Fees vary depending on the terms of a transaction and the property's value. Depending on whether you’re buying a mortgage-free or mortgaged property there are three main services carried out at the DLD.
#1 Request for Sale Registration
  • 4% of the sale price  
  • AED 250 as Title Deed issuance fees
  • AED 100 Land Map Issuance Fees
  • AED 250 for Villas & Units Map Issuance Fees
  • AED 10 Knowledge fees added to each fee
  • AED 10 Innovation fees added to each fee
Another fee that is paid when buying a property, which depends on the property value, is the Registration Trustee Fee.
  • For a sale price ≥ AED 500,000; the fee = AED 4,000
  • For a sale price < AED 500,000, the fee = AED 2,000
#2 Request for Mortgage Registration
  • 0.25% of the mortgage value
  • a standard mortgage with a title deed/usufruct title deed: AED 250 fee for title deed issuance
  • a conservative mortgage with a title deed/usufruct title deed: AED 250 fee for title deed issuance for each title deed
  • Registration Trustee fees: AED 4,000 service fee
  • Registration Trustee fees for initial sale registration (Oqoodi, off-plan property market): AED 5,000 service fee
  • AED 10 Knowledge fees added to each fee
  • AED 10 Innovation fees added to each fee
#3 Request for Usufruct Registration/Musataha
Long-term lease:
  • Owner: 2% of the rental value + the tenant 2% of the rental value
Musataha:
  • 1% Musataha registration
  • 1% Resale of Musataha on the land Space; 4% (of the building value) on the built-in land  + 1% (of the Musataha value)
  • AED 250 title deed issuance fee
  • AED 100 land map issuance fees (AED 250 if a villa or apartment)
  • AED 10 Knowledge fees added to each fee
  • AED 10 Innovation fees added to each fee
Registration Trustee Fee:
  • the sale price ≥ AED 500,000; the fee = AED 4,000,
  • the sale price ≤ AED 500,000, the fee = AED 2,000.

Who pays the fees?

DLD fees are usually split 50/50 between the seller and the buyer. There may, however, be some variation here. In most cases, all fees are paid in full by the buyer.

The seller and buyer each pay 2% of the sale price for Sale Registration. All other registration fees are paid by the buyer.

For a Mortgage Registration, the fees are always paid by the buyer.

How can you pay the fees?

All three services - Sale Registration, Mortgage Registration and Usufruct Registration/Musataha, have the same methods of payment:
  • ePay,
  • Dubai Pay,
  • Noqodi, and
  • Manager Cheque to Dubai Land Department.

When are fees paid?

To avoid cancellation, you must pay DLD fees within 60 days of the purchase.

Who interacts with the DLD?

The buyer can interact with the DLD in person or for some services via an online platform. In addition, both the buyer and the seller can authorize a third party to act on their behalf via a power of attorney, which must be specific to the property.

Is there a fee waiver?

Often, developers offer to waive Dubai Land Department (DLD) registration fees, which means the buyer does not have to pay this fee, but the developer does. Developers may offer anywhere from 50% to 100% off on DLD fees, but the buyer must still pay the rest, if required.

Keep in mind

a) Service fees

Service fees must also be factored in once the transaction is settled and the property has been transferred. The DLD also regulates the annual property maintenance fee, which is usually collected by the property owners in order to fund the upkeep and maintenance of the common areas.

Let’s take Dubai Hills Estate as an example. The service charges for the properties at Dubai Hills Estate range from AED 16.6 per sq ft to as much as AED 18.3 per sq ft. It varies from community to community and determines the charge per square foot.

The money from this type of fee is used to maintain common areas of a building or community, such as elevators, landscaping, security, swimming pools, etc. Visit the Service Charge and Maintenance Index and check the service fees for the property you’re interested in. 

b) Freehold vs leasehold

Even though Dubai allows foreigners and expats to own properties, a property purchase is governed by different rules for UAE nationals, expats, and non-residents. What is more, some properties are subject to different rules based on their location or zone.

As a potential homeowner or investor, it is crucial that you differentiate leasehold from freehold properties in Dubai. Buyer’s rights and the degree of control are the primary distinctions. What does this actually mean?
  • Leasehold ownership - when you buy a leasehold property you get property rights for a fixed term - a maximum of 99 years. You do not own the land - only the building on the property.
  • Freehold ownership - when you buy a freehold property you are the absolute owner of the property and its land. You decide what to do with both, you can modify them, sell them, lease them or live in/on them (subject to community rules and regulations).
Naturally, international buyers and investors prefer freehold property over other types of real estate. It has also been noted that some leasehold areas and properties are changing their status to freehold, removing barriers for foreign nationals even further. You can find a comprehensive list of freehold areas in Dubai here.

c) Documentation language

Documents in foreign languages must be attested and translated into Arabic by a certified translator.

d) Other things to remember

In addition to the above, there are a few other things you must know. In most cases, the seller is responsible for paying the NOC charges. It is not possible to transfer a mortgaged property until the mortgage has been settled. DLD protects buyers from fraudulent sellers by blocking a property. Until the full loan amount is settled, the original Title Deed will be held by the bank. Islamic banks issue Title Deeds in their name and list you as the tenant. 

The buyer's debt-to-income ratio must not be greater than 50%. The mortgage term cannot exceed 25 years. This is because there is an age limit (usually it ranges from 60-75). You can apply for a long-term residency visa in the UAE if you purchase a home worth at least AED 2 million. However, you must also meet certain conditions.
Dubai skyline with the most iconic skyscrapers such as Burj Khalifa in Dubai downtown.

How can we assist you?

You should be wary of who you deal with as a potential buyer. Make sure you check the following: 

#1 Is the project licensed with the Dubai Land Department (DLD)?
#2 Does an escrow or trust account exist to hold the purchaser’s funds until handover?
#3 Is the relationship between the broker and the developer registered with the DLD?
#4 Is the broker a competent figure and able to answer all your questions?
Kredium has a dedicated team of advisers that will ensure that your purchase is easy, fun and streamlined. . To make the whole process smoother for you, we will:
  • ensure you’re dealing with a developer of good standing (read our blog about top real estate developers and projects in Dubai),
  • verify that the developer is registered with the DLD,
  • ensure that you have a clear and concise contract,
  • ensure that all information is accurate and transparent, without hidden agendas and misleading information, and
  • make copies of any relevant documents and other items relating to the purchase and sale transaction.
If you still haven’t found a specific property in Dubai, check out our properties page and browse through our selection of modern, elegant, and luxurious buildings, villas, and apartments.
We assist you in finding your ideal home or making a smart investment no matter where you live. We offer options for UAE citizens, expats, and non-residents, ensuring you’ll have no problem making your purchase.

We are well versed with all government rules and requirements, so you don’t have to be. Take a look at the pages below and see which option is right for you:
We have also developed a mortgage calculator to give you an overview of the total loan amount and monthly payment. By choosing your status - expat, non-resident, or UAE national, the calculator (broken into three categories, upfront, recurring, and optional costs) gives you a clear picture of your potential mortgage plan in a transparent and accurate way, with no hidden costs and fees. 
Kredium UAE mortgage calculator that shows amounts, interest rates, tenure, etc., depending on the property size and price.
If there’s anything else we can help you with, feel free to contact us.
Photo credits:
  1. Photo | Emirates News Agency
  2. Photo | Dubai Rest App - Google Play Store
  3. Photo by Dimitri Karastelev | Unsplash
  4. Photo by AlexanderStein | Pixabay
  5. Photo by ZQ Lee | Unsplash
  6. Photo | Kredium

TAGS:

Dubai Land Department

DLD services

DLD fees

Property buying process

Home buying process

Dubai

Property

Mortgage

Dubai Real Estate

Dubai property

Dubai mortgage

Real estate investment

Foreigners

UAE nationals

Expats

Non-residents