Dubai’s property market could receive a boost from long-term investors if they are provided with longer-stay visas, experts have opined.
Currently, the regulations for property visas in the UAE are quite rigorous and investors need to meet several criteria to be eligible, according to Nofi Mojidi, relationship manager at Fragomen’s Worldwide Private Client Practice.
Some of the conditions include – the property owned must be valued at more than Dhs1m; it must be situated in a designated freehold area; it should be entirely owned by the investor [exceptions exist if there is a mortgage]; and it has to be in habitable condition.
The investor must also earn a minimum monthly income of Dhs10,000.
If the conditions are fulfilled, a six month renewable multi-entry visa is available for investors with property in any of the seven emirates.
Additionally, those in Dubai can also apply for a two- year renewable property permit through the Dubai Land Department.
“Investors must take into account additional costs that may arise including approximately Dhs2,300-Dhs14,000 in government fees depending on the particular visa that is applied for,” says Mojidi.
Also, if an investor plans to sponsor a spouse or additional dependents, they are required to deposit a refundable fee of Dhs3,000 per dependent.
“At the moment Dubai is a transient destination, people come with a short term view since they can’t retire here,” opines Matthew Green, head of Research and Consulting at CBRE Middle East.
“There are a number of opportunities, a number of tools that the government has if they want to encourage more longer term investors into the market.
“Visas is obviously one consideration – offering longer visas for investors buying into real estate. Certainly allowing people to live here longer encourages more of a retirement market. It’s something we don’t have at the moment and would be something to consider,” he explains.
Bata Racic, manager of global citizenship and residence advisory firm Henley & Partners in the Middle East, agrees that offering longer term visas for property buyers would drive investment in the market.
“With the growing trend towards individuals wanting to live a more mobile life, investors can take advantage of opportunities internationally, as well as make a contribution on a global level. Interest in a second residence is also growing for wealthy individuals in emerging market states. There is definitely an opportunity for the UAE to tap into this wide audience in the future,” he states.
Currently, while job-linked residency visas can only be processed until expatriate employees retire, property visas are not linked to the age. Retirees in Dubai can continue to reside in the country based on property ownership, although they would still need to go through the process of renewing the permit or visa every two years or six months.
“Many may argue that if Dubai were to introduce longer term investor visas, property buyers would be encouraged to make greater investments in the property market,” says Mojidi.
“While this might be true for many wealthy investors, the shorter term property visas are currently not a deterrent for investors or retirees who want to make Dubai their future home.
“With longer-term investor visas however, retirees would no longer have to go through the constant hassle of renewing their visas every few years. Most importantly, a longer-term visa would give retirees long-term security knowing they can retire in a country they can actually call home,” she adds.