What is Off Plan Property in Dubai – Everything You Need To Know

Off Plan Properties

April 16, 2024

What is Off Plan Property in Dubai – Everything You Need To Know
Peter Considine
What is Off Plan Property in Dubai – Everything You Need To Know

The city of Dubai is well-known for its impressive skyline, luxurious lifestyle, and rapid growth. Amidst this, the off-plan property market in Dubai has emerged as an attractive investment opportunity. With the potential for high returns and flexible payment options, off-plan property investment has captured the attention of investors worldwide. But what exactly is off-plan property, and how can you make the most of this investment opportunity? In this context, it's essential to understand "what is off-plan property?"

In this guide, we will delve into the world of off-plan property in Dubai, unraveling the key aspects that every investor should know. From understanding the concept of what is off-plan property and its advantages, to the vital considerations and legal aspects involved, we will equip you with the knowledge you need to make informed decisions and maximize your investment returns.

Short Summary

  • Exploring the concept of off-plan property while highlighting differences in potential returns compared to ready-built properties.
  • Outlining the benefits of investing in off-plan properties, including reduced initial investment, diverse payment plans, and the promise of lucrative returns.
  • Providing a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the required documents and processes, along with an overview of what occurs on transfer day.
A picture of a modern off-plan property in Dubai

Off-plan property has become a significant part of the Dubai real estate market, attracting both local and international investors. But what exactly does it mean to invest in off-plan property? In essence, off-plan property refers to properties that are still in the process of being constructed, with the developer committing to a completion and delivery date. Purchasing off-plan property typically requires a 10-20% down payment and the signing of the Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA).

While off-plan property investment has its advantages, it's essential to understand how it differs from ready-built properties. Ready-built properties are fully constructed and available for immediate occupancy, while off-plan properties are not yet constructed and may offer different investment requirements and potential returns.

In the following sections, we will explore these differences and the advantages of investing in off-plan properties.

Definition of Off-Plan Property

Off-plan property, simply put, refers to real estate that is purchased before construction is complete, with the developer committing to a completion and delivery date. This type of property is sold directly by the developer, allowing investors the opportunity to purchase a property at a lower price than a ready-built property. In Dubai, off-plan properties are available in various forms, including apartments, villas, and townhouses.

Investing in off-plan properties can be an attractive option for investors due to the potential for higher returns, flexible payment plans, and lower initial investment requirements. However, it's important to remember that off-plan property investment also comes with its own set of risks and challenges, which we will discuss in detail later in this guide.

Comparison with Ready-Built Properties

An image showing the blueprint of an off-plan property, explaining what is off plan property in comparison with ready-built properties.

Understanding the differences between off-plan and ready-built properties is crucial. Ready-built properties are fully constructed and immediately available for occupancy, while off-plan properties are still under development. This distinction affects both investment requirements and potential returns.

Off-plan properties typically demand a lower initial investment due to their lower purchase price. However, they require time to generate cash flow for investors. Conversely, investing in off-plan properties offers the potential for value appreciation during construction.

Ready-built properties also offer immediate returns through leasing, making them ideal for investors seeking instant rental income. With these differences in mind, choosing between off-plan and ready-built properties ultimately depends on the investor's goals, risk tolerance, and investment horizon.

Recent data from 2023 indicates that off-plan properties accounted for 45% of total transactions, with the most popular areas being Dubai Hills Estate, JVC and DAMAC Hills. This underscores the importance of understanding the dynamics between off-plan and ready-built properties for savvy investors.

Advantages of Investing in Off-Plan Properties

A picture of a modern off-plan property in Dubai with a sign saying "Invest in Off-Plan Property"

Investing in off-plan properties does indeed come with several advantages that can make it an attractive option for investors. Some of these benefits include lower initial investment, flexible payment options, and the potential for high returns.

In this section, we will explore each of these advantages in more detail, providing insights into how off-plan property investment can be a lucrative opportunity for investors in Dubai's real estate market. By understanding the advantages of off-plan property investment, investors can make informed decisions and maximize their returns.

In the following subsections, we will delve into each of these advantages, shedding light on the opportunities and challenges that come with off-plan property investment in Dubai.

Lower Initial Investment and Flexible Payment plans

Investing in off-plan properties in Dubai offers a compelling advantage: lower initial investment requirements compared to ready-built properties. Typically, investors need to pay a deposit ranging from 10-20% of the property's estimated value, depending on factors such as ROI expectations, budget, developer preferences, location, amenities, and payment plans.

The most common off-plan payment plan in Dubai is the 80/20 payment plan. Under this plan, buyers typically pay 80% of the property's total price during the construction phase, with payments usually made in installments every 4 months linked to construction milestones. The remaining 20% is paid upon handover of the property. Payment plans can range across developers

A few other Popular Payment Plans include:

60/40 Payment Plan: Under this plan, buyers pay 60% of the property's total price during construction and 40% upon handover.

50/50 Payment Plan: In this plan, buyers split the payment equally, with 50% paid during construction and the remaining 50% at handover.

30/40/30 Payment Plan: This plan involves paying 30% during construction, 40% at handover, and the remaining 30% over 2-3 years after handover. This is also known as a Post Handover Payment plan.

Danube Properties' 1% Monthly Payment Plan: Danube Properties has introduced an innovative 1% Monthly Payment Plan, which has made property investment a lot more accessible. With a minimal 10% down payment, buyers can then enjoy the convenience of paying only 1% of the property's value monthly, specifically designed to accommodate families earning between AED 15,000-20,000.

These lower upfront cost and flexible payment terms enhance accessibility to a broader investor base, democratizing real estate investment opportunities. Moreover, it sets the stage for potentially higher returns. As the property appreciates during construction, investors stand to benefit from increased value upon project completion (the reverse can also be true during a downturn).

Potential High Returns

Investing in off-plan properties until they are ready can provide the potential for high returns. This is due to several factors, including the lower initial investment and potential appreciation in property value during the construction period. Additionally, the maximum loan amount for an off-plan property is 50% of the purchase price (only for certain reputable developers), which can help investors leverage their investment for higher returns.

However, it's important to note that off-plan property investment also comes with its own set of risks and challenges. These include:

  1. Market Volatility: The real estate market in Dubai is subject to fluctuations, impacting property values and investment returns. Investors must navigate market volatility to minimize risks and optimize returns.
  2. Construction Delays: Off-plan projects may encounter delays in construction, leading to extended timelines and potential disruptions to expected returns. Investors should factor in the possibility of delays and conduct thorough due diligence on developers and projects.
  3. Developer Reliability: There is a risk of developers not fulfilling their commitments, which could result in financial losses or legal complications for investors. Researching developers' reputation, track record, and financial stability is crucial for mitigating this risk.

To mitigate these risks and maximize potential returns, investors should carefully research the developer's reputation, project location and accessibility, and financial requirements before investing in off-plan property. Click here to get some insights on how we assess particular projects.

Key Considerations When Buying Off-Plan Property

When investing in off-plan property, it's crucial to take several key factors into account. These considerations include researching the developer's reputation, assessing the project location and accessibility, and understanding the financial requirements and mortgage options. By carefully evaluating these factors, investors can make informed decisions and maximize their potential returns in off-plan property investment.

In the following subsections, we will explore each of these key considerations in more detail, providing insights and guidance on how to navigate the off-plan property investment landscape in Dubai.

Developer Reputation

Investing in off-plan properties in Dubai presents lucrative opportunities, but success hinges on choosing the right developer. Here's how to refine your approach:

  1. Developer Evaluation:
    • Track Record: Investigate the developer's history of completing projects on time and within budget. Look for developers with a proven track record of delivering high-quality developments. Renowned developers such as Emaar Properties, DAMAC Properties, Sobha Realty, Meraas, and Nakheel have established themselves as leaders in Dubai's real estate landscape.
    • Customer Reviews: Seek direct feedback from previous and current customers to gauge satisfaction levels and any issues faced during the development process. Off-plan properties from renowned developers often appreciate faster, enhancing the overall investment value. Dubai's top developers like Meraas have garnered positive reviews for their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
    • Industry Standing: Research the developer's standing in the industry, including any awards or accolades received. This can provide insights into their reputation and credibility. Emaar Properties, for instance, is synonymous with luxury real estate and has received numerous accolades for its iconic projects, establishing itself as a trusted name in the industry.
  2. Mitigating Risks:
    • Construction Delays: Investing with reputable developers minimizes the risk of delays, ensuring timely completion of the project. For example, developers like Sobha Realty have a track record of completing projects ahead of schedule, reducing the risk of construction delays.
    • Project Cancellations: Established developers are less likely to cancel projects, providing investors with assurance and stability. Developers such as Meraas have successfully delivered numerous large-scale projects, establishing themselves as reliable partners for off-plan investments.
    • Quality Assurance: Reputable developers maintain high standards of construction, reducing the likelihood of poor-quality developments. Nakheel Properties, for instance, is known for its commitment to quality and sustainability in its developments, ensuring investor confidence in the project's quality.

In conclusion, the reputation of the developer plays a pivotal role in off-plan property investments in Dubai. By conducting thorough research and choosing reputable developers, investors can mitigate risks and maximize their chances of success.

Project Location and Accessibility

When considering off-plan properties in Dubai, factors such as proximity to amenities, connectivity, surrounding infrastructure, and potential for appreciation play crucial roles.

Properties located near essential amenities like schools, hospitals, and malls tend to attract more buyers, enhancing their lifestyle appeal and rental potential.

Connectivity to vital city areas, major road networks, and transportation hubs such as the Dubai Metro is crucial, as it enhances accessibility for residents and boosts demand for properties. Research indicates that properties located within close proximity to the Dubai Metro experience substantial increases in rental yields compared to those farther away.

Properties located within close proximity to Dubai Metro stations, particularly within a 10 to 15-minute walking distance, experienced substantial increases in rental yields. From Q1 2018 to Q4 2022, residential properties near Dubai Red Line metro stations saw an average rental yield growth of 5.7%, surpassing the city's overall rental rate growth. Meanwhile, properties situated within a 10 to 15-minute walk from metro stations witnessed an even more impressive surge in rental yields, averaging 11.7%.

Moreover, the quality of surrounding infrastructure, including road networks and green spaces, significantly influences desirability and property prices.

Lastly, properties in prime areas with promising future developments and infrastructure projects tend to experience capital appreciation over time, making them lucrative investments for buyers

Some recent examples of this include:

  1. Emaar Beachfront: Emaar Beachfront is a prime off-plan property development situated along the Dubai coastline. Investors who purchased units in this project have witnessed significant appreciation. For instance, early investors saw a capital appreciation of approximately 30% upon completion of the first phase of construction, translating to an impressive yield of around 30%.
  2. Dubai Hills Estate: Dubai Hills Estate is another prominent off-plan project that has experienced notable appreciation. Investors who bought off-plan properties in this development have seen capital appreciation ranging from 20% to 25% upon completion of various phases. This equates to a substantial yield of 20% to 25% on their initial investment.
  3. Dubai Creek Harbour: Dubai Creek Harbour, a mega-development by Emaar Properties, is also known for its appreciating off-plan properties. Investors who purchased units in this project have seen substantial capital appreciation. For example, some 1-bedroom apartments bought off-plan for AED 650,000 in 2017 were recently resold for AED 1 million, providing investors with a remarkable yield of over 50%.

These examples demonstrate the significant appreciation potential of off-plan properties in Dubai, highlighting the importance of project location and accessibility in driving property value growth and investment returns. A reputable Real estate Agency can help you navigate the off plan market in Dubai and find projects that can have similar levels of appreciation.

Financial Requirements and Mortgage Options

Investors venturing into off-plan property purchases in Dubai must grasp the intricacies of financial requirements and mortgage options to navigate this thriving real estate market. Here's a refined overview:

  1. Initial Investment and LTV Ratio: Investors usually need to provide 50% of the property's cost upfront from their own funds to qualify for a mortgage. This upfront investment demonstrates commitment and financial stability. Mortgages for off-plan properties adhere to a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 50%. This requirement ensures that buyers have a significant stake in the property, promoting a healthy balance between equity and borrowed funds.
  2. Mortgage Availability: Securing a mortgage for off-plan properties in Dubai is subject to specific conditions set by banks. While major developers may facilitate smoother mortgage approvals, lenders carefully assess the projects they finance. Notably, for a property to be eligible for a mortgage, it's generally required to be at least 50% completed. Additionally, mortgages are typically limited to projects from reputable developers.
  3. Contract Considerations: When investing in off-plan properties in Dubai, thorough review of contracts is crucial. Buyers should pay close attention to payment options, penalties for delays, and deductions. For example, understanding the payment schedule, potential penalties for missed payments, and deductions for changes or delays in construction can help mitigate financial risks and ensure a smooth investment process. Additionally, buyers should be aware of any clauses related to project completion timelines and potential compensation in case of delays or changes in the project's scope. By carefully reviewing these contract terms, investors can make informed decisions and protect their interests throughout the investment journey.

By understanding the financial requirements and mortgage nuances, investors can make informed decisions and capitalize on lucrative off-plan property opportunities in Dubai.

Legal Aspects and Documentation

Before investing in off-plan property, it's crucial to understand the legal aspects and documentation involved in the process. This includes the Expression of Interest (EOI), Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA), an escrow account, and registration with the Dubai Land Department (DLD). These legal aspects and documentation are essential for protecting the interests of both the buyer and the developer and ensuring a smooth transaction process.

In the following subsections, we will delve into each of these legal aspects and documentation, providing insights into their purpose and role in the off-plan property purchase process.

Expression of Interest (EOI)

An Expression of Interest (EOI) plays a crucial role in the off-plan property buying process in Dubai, serving as a prelude to formal agreements and transactions. When purchasing off-plan properties, buyers often encounter competitive markets where securing desirable units early is paramount. The EOI acts as a tool for buyers to express their interest in a specific property before its official launch, allowing them to reserve their preferred unit ahead of others. Typically, buyers are required to sign an EOI document and provide a deposit, usually around 5% of the property's value, to secure their chosen unit. This deposit demonstrates the buyer's serious intent to proceed with the purchase once the project launches. By signing an EOI, buyers gain priority access to coveted properties, enabling them to secure prime units and potentially capitalize on early bird pricing or incentives offered during the pre-launch phase. Ultimately, the EOI streamlines the off-plan property buying process in Dubai, providing a mechanism for buyers to secure their desired units efficiently and effectively

Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA)

The Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) stands as the cornerstone of off-plan property transactions in Dubai, delineating the terms and conditions of the sale comprehensively. This legally binding document covers essential facets such as purchase price, payment schedule, completion date, and handover specifics. The Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) plays a pivotal role in acquiring the Oqood, serving as a temporary Title Deed (for Off plan properties) until the project reaches completion and is delivered. More information on the Oqood can be found here.

Key Components of the SPA

  1. Payment Plan: The SPA details the payment structure, including the minimum initial deposit and subsequent installments, ensuring clarity on financial obligations throughout the project's duration.
  2. Terms of Purchase: It outlines conditions regarding the property layout, facilities, cancellation, and reselling terms, providing buyers with a clear understanding of their rights and obligations.
  3. Mortgage Contract: The SPA may include provisions related to mortgage financing, specifying the conditions under which the buyer can secure financing for the off-plan property purchase.
  4. Resale Provisions: It establishes the terms under which the buyer can resell the property to another party, including any restrictions or requirements set by the developer.

The SPA plays a pivotal role in initiating and safeguarding off-plan property transactions. By meticulously examining its clauses, investors can ensure transparency and mitigate potential risks. Thorough understanding of the SPA minimizes the likelihood of disputes, fostering a smooth and secure purchase process.

In essence, the SPA serves as a vital tool for both buyers and developers, fostering trust and transparency in Dubai's dynamic real estate landscape.

Escrow Account

An escrow account is a third-party-controlled temporary legal arrangement between two transacting parties, wherein a financial payment is held until both parties have fulfilled their contractual requirements. In the context of off-plan property transactions in Dubai, an escrow account is necessary to ensure that payments are made in accordance with the requirements of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA).

Escrow accounts were introduced to Dubai's real estate space primarily to address the vulnerabilities exposed by the 2008 global financial crisis. The crash significantly impacted Dubai's real estate market, leading to stalled projects, declining property values, and investor uncertainties. In response, regulations were implemented to bolster investor protection and market stability

Here's an in-depth look at how these accounts function and why they are integral to investor protection:

  1. Purpose and Functionality: An escrow account serves as a conduit for financial transactions, withholding payments until all contractual obligations are met by both parties involved.
  2. Regulatory Compliance: In Dubai, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) mandates the use of escrow accounts to ensure adherence to payment schedules outlined in off-plan property agreements.
  3. Developer Restrictions: Developers are restricted from accessing escrow funds without prior approval from the Dubai Land Department (DLD). The DLD conducts project inspections before authorizing fund disbursement at specific developmental stages, mitigating the risk of misappropriation or misuse.
  4. Investor Protection: Escrow accounts act as a buffer against potential pitfalls like project delays, cancellations, or fraudulent activities, offering reassurance to buyers regarding the safety of their investments.
  5. Legal Compliance: The utilization of escrow accounts ensures adherence to Dubai's stringent legal framework, promoting transparency and accountability in off-plan property transactions.

In essence, the use of an escrow account provides an additional layer of protection for off-plan property buyers, ensuring that their payments are safeguarded against delays, cancellations, and fraud. By understanding the role and purpose of escrow accounts in off-plan property transactions, investors can have greater confidence in the security of their investment.

Registration with Dubai Land Department (DLD)

In Dubai, registering off-plan properties with the Dubai Land Department (DLD) is a vital step in the real estate purchasing process, ensuring legal recognition and protection for buyers. Here's what you need to know:

Mandatory Requirement: All real estate purchases and mortgages in Dubai necessitate registration with the DLD, the governing body overseeing land registration in the emirate.

Regulation and Transparency: The DLD regulates and facilitates land registration processes, ensuring transparency and adherence to legal requirements within the real estate sector.

Documentation and Verification: When purchasing off-plan properties, buyers must submit necessary documents to both the developer and the DLD for verification.

Fees and Charges: Registration with the DLD involves payment of various fees, including registration fees, transfer fees, and associated charges.

Legal Recognition and Protection: Registering an off-plan property purchase with the DLD ensures that the transaction is legally recognized and protected under Dubai's real estate regulations.

Here's a Step-by-Step Process for Transferring Ownership of Off-Plan Property in Dubai

  1. Completion Notice: The developer issues a completion notice to inform the Dubai Land Department (DLD) and the buyer that the off-plan property is ready for handover. This initiates a 30-day period for the buyer to fulfill all handover requirements.
  2. Property Inspection: The buyer conducts a thorough inspection of the property to identify any defects. The developer is responsible for addressing and rectifying these issues before the handover.
  3. Property Handover Notice: Upon satisfactory completion of the property inspection, the developer issues a property handover notice. This notice enables the buyer to schedule a transfer meeting with the developer.
  4. Handover Pack: Prior to the transfer meeting, the buyer receives a handover pack from the developer. This pack outlines any outstanding payments, which may include final installments, Oqood fees (4% of the original purchase price paid to the DLD), title deed issuance fees (AED 250 plus AED 20 innovation and knowledge fees), service charges, administration fees, and utility registration fees (AED 100-300 paid to DEWA).
  5. Transfer Meeting: The buyer attends the transfer meeting with the developer and submits the necessary documents. At this meeting, the buyer pays any outstanding fees at the DLD Customer Happiness Centre.
  6. Completion of Transfer: Once all fees are settled and documents are submitted, the DLD processes the transfer of ownership. Upon completion, the title deed and map are emailed to the buyer.
  7. Final Steps: Following the transfer, the buyer arranges for utility connections and obtains insurance to complete the ownership transfer process.

This step-by-step process ensures a smooth transfer of ownership for off-plan properties in Dubai, from the completion of construction to the finalization of handover requirements.

By adhering to the registration requirements set forth by the DLD, buyers can safeguard their investments and enjoy peace of mind knowing that their property transactions are conducted in compliance with the law.

Mitigating Risks in Off-Plan Property Investment

While off-plan property investment can offer attractive returns and benefits, it is not without its risks. Potential risks include market volatility, construction delays, and the possibility of the final property not meeting expectations. To mitigate these risks and maximize the potential returns, it is essential to research market conditions and seek professional assistance before investing in off-plan property.

Understanding market conditions is crucial for off-plan property investors in Dubai to mitigate risks and optimize returns. Thorough research includes examining the developer's track record, analyzing market trends, and staying informed about government regulations impacting the real estate sector.

  1. Developer's Past Projects: Investigating the developer's history provides insight into their reliability and ability to deliver projects on time and as promised. Investors should assess completion records, quality of construction, and customer satisfaction.
  2. Market Trends and Policies: Keeping tabs on market trends and government policies is essential. Factors such as supply and demand dynamics, economic indicators, and regulatory changes significantly influence off-plan property investment. Dubai's dynamic market requires constant monitoring to identify emerging opportunities and risks.
  3. Professional Assistance: Engaging real estate agents, lawyers, and financial advisors can provide invaluable guidance. These professionals offer expertise in evaluating developer reputations, project locations, financial implications, and mortgage options. Their insights help investors navigate complexities and make informed decisions.

Seeking professional assistance ensures investors have access to comprehensive market insights and personalized advice tailored to their investment goals. This approach enhances decision-making processes, minimizes risks, and maximizes returns in Dubai's dynamic off-plan property market.


In conclusion, off-plan property investment in Dubai can offer investors attractive returns and numerous benefits, such as lower initial investment, flexible payment options, and the potential for high returns. However, it is essential to carefully consider the various factors and risks associated with this type of investment, such as the developer's reputation, project location and accessibility, and financial requirements and mortgage options.

By conducting thorough research, seeking professional assistance, and understanding the legal aspects and documentation involved in off-plan property transactions, investors can maximize their potential returns and navigate the dynamic Dubai real estate market with confidence.


Your Questions Answered

What is the meaning of off-plan property?

Off-plan property is a term used to describe purchasing real estate before it is constructed. Investing in off-plan properties often allows buyers to benefit from lower prices due to the early stage of the building, as well as offering an array of customization options to make the home their own.

Purchasing off-plan properties can be a great way to build long-term wealth.

Can I sell my off-plan property in Dubai?

Yes, you can sell your off-plan property in Dubai before or after completion, but it's subject to certain conditions outlined in the sales agreement and developer's policies.

What is the difference between off-plan and secondary property?

Off-plan properties are new properties under construction or planning, while secondary properties are previously owned properties available for resale.

Is 2024 a good time to buy property in Dubai?

With property prices projected to increase and sustained interest from investors, 2024 could be a favorable time to buy property in Dubai. Analysts are projecting moderate price increases with real Estate prices in Dubai projected to increase by 5-7%.