Online searches for UAE mortgages rose 35% in Q1 of 2014

The vast majority of home loan searches were expats looking to buy property in Dubai. It is not hard to see why so many expats are in a hurry to buy right now.
With tighter regulations on mortgage lending, an increasing number of UAE residents are searching online for home loans - hoping to secure finance before prices rise even further. Silvia Razgova / The National
With tighter regulations on mortgage lending, an increasing number of UAE residents are searching online for home loans - hoping to secure finance before prices rise even further. Silvia Razgova / The National
The UAE property and mortgage market is booming again, with prospective buyers scrambling to secure home loans before prices rise even higher. Ambareen Musa, the founder and chief executive of Souqalmal.com says the price comparison website has noticed a rise in the number of customers searching for a UAE mortgage through its site - with the figure doubling in March. "That means twice as many people were using our site to search for a mortgage than in February," she says. Here, Ms Musa outlines the reasons behind the rise in mortgage searches:

Over the first three months of the year, the number of UAE mortgage searches on Souqalmal.com has leapt 35 per cent.

The vast majority of home loan searches were expats looking to buy property in Dubai. It isn't hard to see why so many expats are in a hurry to buy right now. Prices in Dubai rose by around 43 per cent last year, according to figures from Cluttons.

And they could rise by up to 40 per cent this year, according to a recent prediction by Sultan bin Meiren, director-general of the Dubai Land Department.

There is a widespread feeling that the current property market resurgence is built on more secure foundations than the last boom, which burst after the financial crisis.

A key reason is that the UAE Central Bank has moved to prevent borrowers from overstretching themselves by insisting they make higher minimum down payments to secure their dream home.

Expats buying a property for under Dh5 million must now produce a minimum down payment of 25 per cent, rising to 35 per cent for properties above Dh5 million. For second properties, the minimum down payment is 40 per cent.

Emiratis need a 20 per cent down payment for homes under Dh5 million, rising to 30 per cent for homes over Dh5 million, and 30 per cent for any subsequent properties.

Every buyer needs to put down a 50 per cent down payment for off-plan properties, regardless of whether they are an expat or local.

These are sensible measures, but is everybody aware of them?

Our data suggests they aren't. Many of our users are searching for home loans with downpayments of between just 10 per cent and 20 per cent.

If you're working out how much you can afford to spend on a property, you need to start from the right base point. So make sure your down payment meets the UAE's new, stringent requirements.

Once you have your down payment, you need to find the right mortgage for you among the UAE's highly competitive mortgage rates.

There are some great deals available now, with initial rates starting from a little over 2 per cent. A search takes seconds, but can save you thousands of dollars in total interest repayments over the term of your mortgage.

The scramble to buy property in Dubai looks set to continue. Happily, the process of finding a UAE mortgage is now a lot less stressful.

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Published: May 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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