Investors can get a five-year residence visa when they invest in a property worth at least Dh5 million.
The UAE offers plenty of opportunities to foreigners who are willing to invest in real estate sector to secure a long-term visa following a reform process initiated by the government last year.
Property investors can invest in more than 40 communities across the UAE, mainly in Dubai, to secure a long-term visa and better returns on their investment. Majority of foreigners prefer to invest their money in residential properties, but real estate experts suggest that commercial properties can also offer strong returns.
As per the new UAE regulations, property investors can get a five-year residence visa when they invest in a property worth at least Dh5 million. The ruling applies both to secondary and new properties above Dh5 million and Dh10 million.
Manika Dhama, head of Strategic Consulting and Research at Cavendish Maxwell, said residential properties in Dubai, particularly in branded or serviced apartment categories, above Dh5 million offer investment opportunities for those seeking a long-term visa under new regulations.
“Certain villa or townhouse communities in Abu Dhabi and Northern Emirates like Ras Al Khaimah also offer such investment opportunities,” she added.
Dhama said requirements for these new long-term visa currently state cash-only investments. Therefore, more clarity is required on how this is applicable to single units or entire buildings, land, etc, she said.
“Bulk residential units in higher yield areas like International City may prove to be a better investment option in the Dh5 million and above category, particularly for those with a higher risk appetite, than a single villa where yields tend to hover around 4-5 per cent,” said Dhama.
“Indians, Pakistanis and Britons will remain top 3 investors seeking long-term visa through property investment,” she said while referring to majority of investment in Dubai’s property sector coming from India, Pakistan, Britain and Saudi Arabia.
There are 31 communities across the emirate of Dubai where Dh5 million worth of investment can get a 5-year visas, according to data provided by Cavendish Maxwell. Al Barari, Al Furjan, Arabian Ranches, Arabian Ranches 2, Bluewaters Island, Business Bay, City Walk, Culture Village, Damac Hills, Downtown Burj Khalifa, Dubai Harbour, Dubai Marina and Dubai Science Park (DuBiotech), are included among those communities.
Other areas where investors can invest for long-term visas are: Dubai Sports City, Emirates Living, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Jumeirah Gold Estates, Jumeirah Islands, JLT, Jumeirah Park, Living Legends, Meydan City, Mohammed bin Rashid City, Motor City, Palm Jumeirah, Pearl Jumeirah, Dubai Creek Harbour, The Villa, Zabeel (WTC Residence), World Islands and Jumeirah Bay Island.
While the eight communities in Abu Dhabi for long-term visa are Saadiyat Island, Nurai Island, Al Reem Island, Marina Village, Al Raha Gold Gardens and other communities in Al Raha area including Al Zeina, Al Manara and Al Bandar.
Taimur Khan, head of research for Middle East at Knight Frank, said majority of the properties above Dh5 million price range are villa properties in locations such as Emirates Hills, The Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Living among others. In addition, there are also a number of luxury apartments which are available in Dubai’s established prime area such as Downtown Dubai and Palm Jumeirah. “We are also seeing new offerings come to the market in Dubai Marina, Bluewaters, Jumeirah and City Walk.”
In Abu Dhabi, majority of residential properties above Dh5 million are villas on Saadiyat Island while some prime apartments are available above this price point on Saadiyat Island, Yas Island and Al Raha Beach.
“Whilst there are other locations where properties above this value are available, the aforementioned locations are where non-GCC national are able to buy property,” he said. He noted that investors’ focus will be on properties which are not only of great quality but are also part of a community.
“We have seen a direct impact on foreign investment increase outside of the GCC, especially from India and Pakistan. As an organisation, we have in particular discussed this topic with business owners, since business owners have started expressing interest to buy rather than rent properties. There is a lot of excitement in the market, but it is far too early to see tangible results. We are looking forward to seeing the tangible impact in the next three years,” Nwilati said.
“There are currently around 5,500 properties valued at over Dh5 million on the listing portals. Residential investors can look at areas like Arabian Ranches 2, Dubai Hills, District One, Tilal Al Ghaf, Al Barari and Palm Jumeirah. On the higher end, investors can look at Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills, Royal Atlantis residences and Opera District to name a few,” Nwilati added.
Jake Wright, investment director, Smart Crowd, believes that the long-term visas will provide individuals greater comfort around their mid- to long-term future, allowing them to better plan their lives within the emirate.
“Working on a two- to three-year visa may deter people from making key life decisions i.e. shall I buy a property to live in, shall I invest some of my savings or even smaller purchases such as furniture etc. All of which a key factors in creating a thriving economy,” said Wright.
Commenting on commercial properties, Andrew Love, partner and head of Commercial and Investment Agency at Cavendish Maxwell, said prime office assets in areas of Dubai like Downtown, Internet City or JLT, with good tenants and long-term leases, may generate a yield of up to seven per cent. Certain multi-let industrial and logistics assets in areas like DIP might provide 10-11 per cent in returns.
“Often, these investments start at Dh12 million, with typical transaction values between Dh50 million and Dh100 million,” Love said. He said other commercial assets like retail community malls may generate 8-12 per cent, with investments ranging from Dh15 million to Dh200 million. Labour accommodations often offer the best returns, more than 15 per cent, but also carry the most investor risk due to high tenant turnover and cyclical rents.