Home buying is a life event for most people. The middle class population work hard to save money for a secured future which involves purchasing a house. Those who are on the family way prefer ready-to-move in properties, and the ones willing to wait on their investment are open to choosing real estate off-plan.
Key Issues Investors Need to Know when Buying Real Estate Off-Plan
In Dubai, before signing an off-plan unit sale and purchase agreement, buyers should visit the Dubai Land Department (DLD) and the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) or the DLD’s website (www.dubailand.gov.ae) to check the following:
1. Is the real estate project registered with RERA?
2. Is there an escrow account for the project? What is the escrow account number and the name of the escrow account agent?
3. What is the percentage of completion of the project and the expected date of completion?
4. Is the developer registered with RERA? Does the developer own the development land or is there a development agreement between the owner and the developer?
5. Does the developer have the required permits and approvals from DLD and RERA to sell units off-plan in the relevant project?
Important functions of RERA
1. Assisting developers with establishing a fair and equitable management structure for their developments through the use of a Jointly Owned Property* (JOP) Declaration.
2. With respect to developments being sold “off plan”, encouraging developers to disclose all relevant information pertaining to their developments in “Disclosure Statements”.
3. Reviewing budgets and service charge information and approving service charges.
4. Licensing firms to provide community management services to Owners Associations.
5. Generally assisting to facilitate the compliance of developers, owners and Owners association managers with their obligations under the JOP Law and Directions.
The principal governmental body responsible for enforcing the JOP Law and the Directions issued pursuant thereto is the Real Estate Regulatory Agency or “RERA” as it is better known. In addition, the Dubai Land Department also performs a function in terms of approving Unit plans and Common Area plans.
The JOP Law and Directions provide a framework, firstly to ensure that investors understand the nature of their investment (through the use of the Disclosure Statement) and secondly ensure that their Jointly Owned Property is managed in accordance with good industry practice.
*Jointly Owned Property
Jointly Owned Property is a real estate development that has been subdivided into “Units” being the saleable area of a development and “Common Areas” being the shared areas of a development. A Unit would comprise the title area of an apartment for example. Common Areas would comprise the corridors or foyer of a building or any swimming pool and recreational facilities. Property designated as freehold is Jointly Owned Property. These can be gated communities consisting of villas and townhouses as well. Most off-plans are sold as part of jointly owned property or communities developed by master developers.
Why is it important for investors to understand about Jointly Owned Property?
Any Investor who invests in Jointly Owned Property becomes a member of an Owners Association. This means that they have certain obligations as an owner including: (a) paying service charges for the management, administration and upkeep of the Jointly Owned Property; and (b) complying with building management rules and regulations.
Jointly Owned Property is the subject of Law No. (27) of 2007 (“JOP Law”). In addition the “Directions” to the JOP Law were also released in 2010 to provide greater guidance to developers and Investors as to their rights and obligations in relation to Jointly Owned Property.
As an investor, it is often not easy to understand real estate laws of different cities around the world. Although DLD has made most of the real estate process convenient and online, chances are you might miss a step here and there. Hence, it is important you choose a professional real estate broker or lawyer to go through the fine print before purchasing off-plan or jointly owned property in Dubai.
(Info source: DLD)