Rent-to-own: An alternative way to finance a home in the UAE

A rent-to-own scheme directly from a developer opens up the property market to a larger pool of potential investors



The UAE property market has been coined a ‘buyers-market’ over the past 18-months and buyers are spoilt for choice.

According to fäm Properties, in 2019, apart from the overdue projects, there are around 59,976 properties scheduled for delivery, and new projects constantly being announced.

A mortgage is a popular means to owning a property in the UAE, and the Dubai Land Department’s (DLD) report for April 2019 reported that almost a quarter (22.75 per cent) of the units sold in Dubai were mortgaged.

But mortgaging a property in the UAE requires a substantial amount of capital, with at least 30 per cent of the property’s value required for the down payment, transfer and agent fees, and property owners are usually tied into an agreement for 20-25 years.

When looking at the primary market, many developers offer affordable payment plans, making purchasing a property more accessible.

However, once a property is handed over, there is typically around 60-70 per cent of its value that is still payable to the developer. Those who do not have the capital to settle this amount often mortgage it, putting them in the same bucket as those mortgaging from the secondary market.

So what other options does that leave property seekers? This is where rent-to-own schemes come in.

A rent-to-own scheme directly from a developer opens up the property market to a larger pool of potential investors. Those who are looking to set their roots in the UAE for the next three years at least are provided with a more accessible route to owning a property, as it negates the need for large capital, eliminating the barrier to ownership.

Essentially, the end-user will be paying the equivalent to what they are paying in rent each month, towards a home that they will own at the end of the 15 year period, making it a much more cost-effective option.

While such schemes have existed in the market since the early 2000s, they only became popular post-2008, and there are only a few developers who offer them.

Prominent developers in the UAE such as Emaar are adopting rent-to-own like schemes to open up their customer base to a new market of potential investors. However, the adoption of such schemes by more developers will support the market.

Such investment options offer a win-win situation for property seekers and developers. Those who are currently renting have the opportunity to join the property ladder and benefit from home ownership, and developers, including those that are new to the UAE, can finance developments more effectively.

Given that many of the developers are starting to focus on more affordable properties – properties that people are likely to move into as opposed to just an investment, I would anticipate that rent-to-own, or long term payment plans will become a more common feature of the primary market.

Matthew Gregory is head of Property Sales at dubizzle Property