My Own Home takes you inside a reader-owned property to ask how much they paid, why they decided to buy and what they have done with it since moving in
Ali Khan bought his first one-bedroom flat in The Greens, Dubai, for Dh760,000 last year and is already in line for a substantial profit on his investment.
His home, in Al Alka 1, was his first property purchase since moving to Dubai five years ago – until then, he had rented another flat in the same building, on the floor above.
Mr Khan, 38, who is British-Pakistani, currently lives alone and works at Heriot-Watt University as a global office manager, bringing international students to the UAE.
Here, he invites The National to take a brief look at his home, and why he believes it makes such a great investment.
Please tell us about your home
It’s on the second floor of an Emaar building where I had previously rented for five years, so I knew what I was getting myself in for.
The apartment is 800 square feet in size and I currently live here alone. The building isn’t very new but it’s in a lovely location and near to my work in Knowledge Park.
It’s been almost a year, and already the value of the apartment has risen to around Dh950,000 so it has been a very good investment so far. It has encouraged me to invest back in the UK, and I’m currently in the process of looking for a buy-to-let property in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
What made you want to buy your own property?
To me, paying rent is like putting your money into a black hole and you’ll never see it again. You get to the stage in your life where you feel like you need to start investing in your future and putting into your pension.
The market was really good at the time, so I made the most of the opportunity. If I’d had the funds during Covid I would have bought then, when prices were as low as Dh550,000.
My advice to anyone is to look at the long-term investment rather than the short-term. If you see a property and you can afford it, then you should go ahead and buy it. The market is moving really quickly at the moment, and if you want something you need to act fast.
Why did you choose this area?
The community is great and the building is really well-kept. Some of the new communities in Dubai have lovely buildings, but you’re literally stepping out on to sand with nowhere to park your car.
You don’t realise how close The Greens is to all the popular places like The Palm, Burj Al Arab and Dubai Marina, just because it’s so quiet. The Greens also has a lovely, homely feel that comes with decades of being lived in.
How did you discover this home?
Once I’d decided I wanted to buy I kept a close eye on sites like Bayut and Property Finder and connected with lots of agents.
It was a struggle initially to find anywhere in The Greens because the area is so popular. I saw this property and put in an offer on the same day. It took a couple of months to get the keys but I knew straight away that this was the one for me.
How did you find the purchasing process?
It was pretty smooth because banks in the UAE are digitised and everyone keeps in touch via WhatsApp, which is such a fast medium of communication. In Belfast, everything has to be done by email or over the phone, and it takes so much longer to get organised.
Of course, you have to pay a lot of money here in service charges and agent’s fees, and it will probably cost in the region of Dh40,000 to Dh50,000, but you’re paying for a service and time is money.
What do you gain from owning rather than renting?
Having your own place gives you a sense of security and it’s an investment for a lifetime. I was paying Dh5,500 a month in rent before, but now that Dh66,000 is going toward my mortgage, so I’ll see some of it back when I eventually sell the property.
What upgrades are you planning?
The building I live in is quite old and although the apartment is a safe investment, it could do with a full renovation at some stage.
Fully renovated one-beds in this building are now selling for as much as Dh1.3 million so it’s definitely worth spending Dh20,000 to Dh30,000 to get an extra 20 per cent out of the property. Ideally, I’d like a new kitchen, new flooring throughout and a new bathroom.
What are the advantages and disadvantages to living in The Greens?
The community, location and proximity to work are all advantages. In terms of disadvantages, I’d say there’s nothing major, but it is a very family-centric community, and in some areas the children can be quite loud.
During Covid, a lot more families moved in when rent prices dropped, but now it seems to be shifting back towards single occupancy and there are a lot of young professionals moving back in.
Will you stay in this property?
It all depends on how the next year goes professionally and financially. I think my next move would be to buy a town house or a small villa, and I quite like the idea of having some more space and a little garden.
It all depends on my savings and bonuses, but I didn’t buy this apartment with a quick turnaround in mind. If I do buy somewhere bigger, I intend to keep this as my retirement plan and rent it out.