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    UAE Mortgages

An introduction to UAE mortgages for expats


Welcome to your ultimate guide on obtaining a mortgage in the UAE as an expatriate. This guide will help you understand the intricacies of the UAE mortgage market, the eligibility criteria, the types of mortgages available, and offer practical advice for securing a mortgage successfully.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction to UAE Mortgages for Expats

2. Understanding the UAE Mortgage Market

3. Eligibility Criteria for Expats

4. Types of Mortgages Available

5. Key Documents Required

6. The Mortgage Application Process

7. Costs Associated with UAE Mortgages

8. Tips for Securing a Mortgage

9. Common Challenges and Solutions

10. Conclusion


1. Introduction to UAE mortgages for expats

The UAE is a popular destination for expatriates due to its thriving economy, tax-free income, and luxurious lifestyle. With a significant expat population, the UAE property market is well-equipped to cater to foreign buyers. However, navigating the mortgage process as an expat can be challenging due to different regulations, eligibility criteria, and market practices. This guide aims to demystify the process and provide you with practical steps to secure a mortgage in the UAE.


2. Understanding the UAE mortgage market

Overview of the UAE property market

The UAE property market is dynamic, with Dubai and Abu Dhabi being the primary hubs for real estate transactions. The market is characterised by a mix of residential, commercial, and luxury properties. Foreign investment is encouraged, and expats can own freehold properties in designated areas. Additionally, the real estate market is regulated to ensure transparency and fairness, providing a secure environment for both buyers and investors.

Key players in the mortgage market

1. Banks: Major banks like Emirates NBD, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, and HSBC offer a variety of mortgage products tailored for expats. These banks have dedicated mortgage departments and provide personalised services to assist borrowers throughout the process.

2. Mortgage Brokers: Brokers like Mortgage Finder and Mortgage UAE can help navigate the complex mortgage landscape and find the best deals. They have access to a wide range of products from different lenders and can negotiate terms on your behalf.

3. Real Estate Developers: Some developers offer direct financing options or special mortgage deals through partnerships with banks. These offers can include flexible payment plans, reduced fees, or other incentives to attract buyers.


3. Eligibility criteria for expats

General requirements

1. Employment Status: Stable employment with a reputable company is crucial. Most lenders prefer borrowers to have at least six months of employment history in the UAE. Additionally, self-employed individuals may need to provide additional documentation to prove their income stability.

2. Income Level: Minimum income requirements vary by lender but generally range from AED 15,000 to AED 25,000 per month. Some lenders may have higher requirements depending on the loan amount and property value.

3. Credit History: A good credit score is essential. Lenders will check your credit history in the UAE and possibly from your home country. Maintaining a good credit history by paying bills on time and managing debts responsibly can enhance your eligibility.

Specific requirements

1. Age: Borrowers typically need to be between 21 and 65 years old at the time of application. Some lenders may extend the age limit if the borrower has a stable income source post-retirement.

2. Debt-to-Income Ratio: Lenders prefer a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or lower. This ratio is calculated by dividing your total monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income.

3. Residency Status: A valid residency visa is mandatory. Some lenders may also require a minimum period of residency in the UAE, often ranging from six months to a year.


4. Types of mortgages available

Fixed-rate mortgages

Fixed-rate mortgages offer a fixed interest rate for a specified period, usually ranging from 1 to 5 years. This type provides stability in monthly payments, making it easier to budget. After the fixed period, the rate may revert to a variable rate.

Variable-rate mortgages

Variable-rate mortgages have an interest rate that fluctuates based on the Emirates Interbank Offered Rate (EIBOR). These can be beneficial when interest rates are low but can lead to higher payments if rates increase. It's important to assess your risk tolerance and ability to handle potential rate hikes.

Offset mortgages

Offset mortgages allow borrowers to link their savings account to their mortgage. The balance in the savings account offsets the mortgage balance, reducing the interest payable. This can be a good option for those who maintain significant savings and want to reduce their interest costs over time.

Islamic mortgages

Islamic mortgages comply with Sharia law, which prohibits interest. Instead, they use profit-sharing models like Ijara (leasing) or Murabaha (cost-plus financing). These mortgages are structured differently but provide similar benefits to conventional mortgages, making them a viable option for expats seeking Sharia-compliant financing.


5. Key documents required

1. Proof of Identity: Passport and Emirates ID.

2. Proof of Residency: Residency visa.

3. Employment Proof: Salary certificate and employment contract. Self-employed individuals may need to provide business registration documents and financial statements.

4. Income Proof: Bank statements for the last 3-6 months. Additional income sources, such as rental income or investments, should also be documented.

5. Credit Report: Credit report from the Al Etihad Credit Bureau. Some lenders may also request a credit report from your home country.

6. Property Documents: Sales agreement and title deed (if applicable). For off-plan properties, the developer's sales agreement and payment plan may be required.


6. The mortgage application process

Step-by-step guide

1. Pre-Approval: Obtain a mortgage pre-approval to determine your borrowing capacity. This involves an initial assessment of your income, employment status, and credit history.

2. Property Search: Find a suitable property within your budget. Engage with reputable real estate agents who understand the market and can guide you through available options.

3. Formal Application: Submit a formal mortgage application with the required documents. Ensure all information is accurate and complete to avoid delays.

4. Valuation: The lender will conduct a property valuation to assess its market value. This step ensures the property is worth the amount being financed.

5. Approval: Upon successful valuation, the lender will issue a mortgage offer. Review the offer carefully, paying attention to terms and conditions.

6. Finalising the Sale: Complete the property purchase, including signing the sales agreement and transferring funds. Work closely with your real estate agent and legal advisor to ensure all steps are completed correctly.

7. Registration: Register the property with the Dubai Land Department or relevant authority. This step legally transfers ownership to you and records the mortgage against the property.


7. Costs associated with UAE mortgages

Upfront costs

1. Down Payment: Typically 20-25% of the property value for expats. Some lenders may require higher down payments for higher-risk borrowers.

2. Property Valuation Fee: AED 2,500 to AED 3,500. This fee is paid to the valuer for assessing the property's market value.

3. Arrangement Fee: 1% of the loan amount, usually capped. This fee covers the administrative costs of processing the mortgage.

4. Mortgage Registration Fee: 0.25% of the loan amount plus AED 290. This fee is payable to the Dubai Land Department for registering the mortgage.


Ongoing costs

1. Monthly Repayments: Principal and interest payments. It's important to budget for these payments to ensure you can meet your financial obligations.

2. Property Maintenance Fees: Varies by property. These fees cover the cost of maintaining common areas and facilities in residential developments.

3. Home Insurance: Required by most lenders. Home insurance protects your property against risks such as fire, theft, and natural disasters.


8. Tips for securing a mortgage

Improve your credit score

Ensure all debts are paid on time and try to reduce any outstanding loans or credit card balances before applying. Regularly check your credit report for any inaccuracies and address them promptly.

Save for a larger down payment

A larger down payment can improve your chances of approval and might secure better interest rates. Additionally, a higher down payment reduces the loan amount, leading to lower monthly repayments.

Get pre-approved

A mortgage pre-approval can give you a clear idea of how much you can borrow and streamline the property search process. It also demonstrates to sellers that you are a serious buyer with financing in place.

Work with a mortgage broker

A broker can provide expert advice, negotiate better terms, and navigate the complex documentation process on your behalf. They can also help you understand the pros and cons of different mortgage products. Look on directory websites like Profezo for a qualified mortgage broker.


9. Common challenges and solutions

High interest rates

Solution: Compare offers from multiple lenders and consider fixed-rate mortgages to lock in favourable rates. Additionally, maintaining a good credit score and financial stability can help you qualify for lower rates.

Stringent eligibility criteria

Solution: Strengthen your application by improving your credit score and providing comprehensive documentation. If you face difficulties, consider smaller loans or more affordable properties to meet the criteria.

Currency fluctuations

Solution: Consider hedging options to protect against adverse currency movements if you have income in a different currency. Some banks offer multi-currency accounts that can help manage exchange rate risks.


10. Conclusion

Securing a mortgage in the UAE as an expat involves navigating through a unique set of challenges and requirements. By understanding the market, meeting eligibility criteria, and preparing the necessary documentation, you can successfully obtain a mortgage and own property in this vibrant and dynamic country. Utilise the tips provided to enhance your chances of approval and enjoy the benefits of investing in the UAE real estate market.

Remember, professional advice from mortgage brokers and financial advisors can be invaluable in this process. With careful planning and informed decisions, you can achieve your goal of owning a home in the UAE. Investing in property is a significant financial commitment, but with the right approach and resources, it can also be a highly rewarding one. Whether you're looking for a home to live in or an investment property, the UAE offers numerous opportunities for expats to build wealth and enjoy a high quality of life.



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