Buying and Selling Dubai Real Estate

Many investors have capitalised on Dubai’s thriving real estate market, with projections indicating up to 7% growth in 2024, further outlining the sector’s lucrative potential. 

However, realising maximum returns when buying or selling property, often relies on clever timing and alignment with real-time market dynamics. With that in mind,  when is the best time to sell or buy an investment property in Dubai

Here, we look at the various factors investors should consider when buying and selling in Dubai, including best practices and making sure to fully understand the city’s real estate market. 

WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO BUY OR SELL PROPERTY IN DUBAI?

There’s no particular ‘best time’ to buy real estate in Dubai, nor to make a sale. As with housing markets across the world, there are advantages and disadvantages to selling at different points of the year.

Seasonal trends and their impact on sales

Dubai’s warm climate brings distinct seasonal variations that shape its market dynamics. The cooler winter months from October to March typically witness an influx of visitors, potentially expanding the pool of prospective buyers. Many of these seasonal residents, however, may be tourists rather than committed investors.

Conversely, the warmer spring and summer period from April to September could see a dip in overall buyer activity. Yet this relative lull may present opportunities for investors to target motivated buyers or face reduced competition from other sellers looking to offload properties during peak seasons.

While seasonal effects are worth consideration, they shouldn’t be the sole driver of investment decisions. Broader market forces, such as price trends, supply and demand dynamics and economic indicators, remain drivers for optimal timing of property transactions.

Market trends

Housing markets fluctuate, so it pays to monitor the dynamics of Dubai real estate sales, from one quarter to the next. This is particularly true for deciding the best time to sell an investment property.

For example, 2023 saw consistent figures across its entire 12 months.

  • Q1: 30,898 sales transactions (+50.6% year-on-year).
  • Q2: 30,264 sales transactions (+34.8% year-on-year/-2.1% on Q1).
  • Q3: 36,708 sales transactions (+43.9% year-on-year/+23.1% on Q2).
  • Q4: 35,430 sales transactions (+23.1% year-on-year/-3.5% on Q3).

While Q3 saw the highest number of sales, the year-on-year growth rate was strongest in Q1, indicating that the ideal selling window can vary based on specific market dynamics. As the statistics demonstrate, seasonal numbers are worthy of consideration but don’t tell the whole story. 

It’s also worth taking completion times into account, which may take anywhere from one to two months. Investors deciding when is the best time to sell an investment property or buy a new one should closely monitor these trends to identify potential peak periods for selling.

Overall, property prices in Dubai increased by an impressive 18% between 2022 and 2023, further underlining the strength of the market. Gross yields also landed in the 7% range, giving investors a buoyant lettings market to invest in. Current market trends in Dubai are favourable to both buyers and sellers.

Local expertise

Local real estate professionals operating in Dubai’s property market can offer invaluable expertise for identifying ideal selling windows. Their in-depth knowledge of both short-term market fluctuations and long-term cyclical trends, coupled with insights into seasonal influences, offers property investors tailored recommendations that can maximise returns on investment property sales. Tapping into this local expertise plays a fundamental role in capitalising on opportune moments within Dubai’s dynamic market.

DIFFERENT WAYS TO BUY AND SELL PROPERTY IN DUBAI

There are different ways to buy and sell property in Dubai. Here are some of the most popular methods.

Traditional transaction

For anyone seeking a straightforward real estate transaction, Dubai’s traditional property market offers a transparent process. Buyers can opt for ready-made or resale properties, where ownership transfers directly from the current owner. 

This approach provides the advantage of immediate occupancy—whether for yourself or a renter—and the ability to physically inspect the property before purchase. Conversely, it may also come with higher price points compared to off-plan options, due to the ready completion of the development. 

Off-plan

Investors in Dubai often capitalise on lucrative off-plan opportunities, which involve buying properties during the construction phase before completion. Such an approach offers several benefits, including attractive pre-construction pricing, flexible payment plans and the ability to select desired units early. 

With this method, there may be potential construction delays or deviations from initially promised specifications. Comprehensive due diligence on the developer’s track record and a thorough understanding of Dubai’s real estate regulations governing off-plan sales are central for mitigating any potential risks and ensuring a smooth transaction process.

Real estate flipping

Some commentators have declared Dubai’s housing market to be perfectly-poised for ‘flipping’ opportunities. This informal term refers to the notion of buying a property for its profit potential, and selling in the short term.

Recent data suggests that such a strategy has increased in recent times, as Dubai’s real estate prices surpassed their previous high to reach AED 1,271 | GBP 275 per sq. ft. Let’s take a look at some specific examples:

809 The Grove by Iman, Dubai Hills Estate

  • Off-plan studio purchased September, 2023 for AED 873,604 | GBP 188,654
  • Sold November 2023 for AED 1,070,000 | GBP 231,065
  • Increase: AED 196,396 | GBP 42,411

Harmony 3, Harmony, Tilal Al Ghaf

  • Ready-made villa purchased January, 2022 for AED 4,145,000 | GBP 895,108
  • Sold January, 2024, for AED 6,230,000 | GBP 1,345,361
  • Increase: AED 2,085,000 | GBP 450,253

R-16-02, The Lana, Business Bay

  • Off-plan apartment purchased July, 2021 for AED 18,135,000 | GBP 3,914,947
  • Sold August, 2023, for AED 31,000,000 | GBP 6,692,218
  • Increase: AED 12,865, 000 | GBP 2,777,271

Such a tactic can—and has—worked for some Dubai real estate investors, but it’s a policy that comes with risk, especially in the world of contract reassignments, or off-plan buying and selling. Making a short-term profit in any market is never guaranteed.

Profitable ‘flipping’ in Dubai requires a high degree of knowledge regarding the country’s housing sector, and a back-up plan should any fluctuations occur in the market.

Selling through local real estate agencies

One of the most common and recommended methods for selling properties in Dubai is to work with reputable local real estate agencies. These agencies have in-depth knowledge of the market, access to a wide network of potential buyers and can handle the entire sales process, from listing and marketing the property to negotiating and closing the deal. 

Agency expertise can be invaluable in pricing the property correctly, attracting qualified buyers and guaranteeing a smooth transaction.

Auctions and distressed sales

In certain circumstances, such as foreclosures or distressed sales, properties in Dubai may be sold through auctions or other expedited processes. These situations typically arise when owners face financial difficulties or legal issues, prompting lenders or authorities to pursue the sale of the property to recover outstanding debts or resolve disputes. While auctions can present opportunities for bargain purchases, they also involve additional risks and complexities that require careful consideration and expert guidance.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BUYING PROPERTY IN DUBAI?

High rental yields, zero capital gains or income tax, combined with consistent growth have seen Dubai regularly named amongst the world’s best places to buy property. Real estate growth occurred in every quarter during 2023, with a high in the winter season.

  • Q1 +5.6%
  • Q2 +4.8%
  • Q3 +5%
  • Q4 +7.8%

The upward trend of sector growth is expected throughout 2024, with estimations around the 5% mark. Such figures make the region a highly-attractive proposition when it comes to investing in its real estate sector.

It’s important, however, to note that average figures omit the most—and least—profitable areas for the housing market. The following regions saw the most transactions in 2023:

Regional trends can change from month-to-month and year-to-year, so it’s highly-recommended to speak with a local consultant prior to making any investment decision.

WHO IS BUYING PROPERTY IN DUBAI?

British nationals have traditionally been Dubai’s largest real estate investor, but the second and third quarters of 2023 saw numbers from Indian nationals surge. Reports also show that the number of Pakistani investors surpassed those from Russia for the first time last year.

Regardless of this shift, anyone looking to invest in Dubai real estate from the UK should note that approximately 75% of the population speaks English, even though Arabic remains the country’s official language.

THE PROCESS OF BUYING REAL ESTATE IN DUBAI

It is relatively easy to buy property in Dubai when compared to many overseas markets, as long as the right legal assistance is taken. Following a consultation with a real estate partner, both parties in the arrangement will need to agree terms of sale. Once an agreement is reached, the following steps must be taken:

Dubai has a range of long-stay visas available for its foreign property investors. A recent update has made it even more attractive: property owners with a value of AED 2M | EUR 503,000 or more are now automatically eligible for the Golden Visa, without the need to apply, providing seamless access to 10 years’ residency in the kingdom.

For more information on how to buy property in Dubai, read our guide.

MAXIMISE PROFITS THROUGH LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Timing remains a vital component when it comes to maximising profits in Dubai’s real estate sector.

With a still-expanding market and excellent projected growth figures, the region holds immense potential for those looking to buy or sell real estate in Dubai. Yet the most prosperous moves will likely come from those who undertake proper research prior to making a financial commitment.

Begin your investment journey with a free consultation, or reach out to leverage our decades of Dubai in-market experience today.

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