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
After more than six years working in Dubai’s real estate sector, broker Charlotte Walton put her skills to the test when she snapped up a two-bedroom villa in Springs 15 for Dh1.8 million ($490,000).
After keeping a close eye on the property market, Ms Walton, 31, from the UK, bought her dream home in 2021, which she shares with her two French bulldogs, Bear and Peanut.
Since buying the property two years ago, she believes its value has soared by more than Dh1 million, with similar properties now on the market for Dh3.1 million.
Here, she invites The National to take a look around her fully renovated home and gives tips to would-be buyers in the Emirates.
Tell us about your home
The villa cost Dh1.8 million to buy and I spent about Dh300,000 on renovations. The built area is 1,743 square foot and the plot area is about 3,500 square foot in total, including a big garden and a patio area where I have barbecues.
I changed the flooring throughout, put in a new kitchen and three new bathrooms, replastered the ceiling and landscaped the garden.
I also had the central wall taken out to make it open plan and extended the lounge area to make it more spacious and airy. I basically did everything you can think of.
What made you buy your own property?
I had been renting in Dubai for six years before I bought my villa, and I didn’t like having a landlord because maintenance was never up to scratch.
Rented properties in Dubai also tend to be quite dated and I wanted something more modern without paying a fortune for it in rent.
It made sense for me to get my own property instead of paying off somebody else’s mortgage. It’s nice to have the freedom to do what I want to my home without relying on anyone else to keep it to a decent standard.
Why did you choose this area?
The Springs is a nice green area, with big lakes and parks where I can walk my dogs.
I love how family friendly it is and it has a great sense of community. It’s also really close to Downtown Dubai and it takes me just 15 minutes to get to work in Dubai Marina.
From an investment perspective, it’s close to lots of schools, which means it’s always going to be a desirable place to live for families so I know it will always sell or rent out if needs be.
How did you discover this home?
As a real estate broker, I always have my eye on the market and kept a close eye on The Springs as I knew that was where I’d ideally like to buy.
I came across this one on Property Finder and it was exactly what I was looking for so I immediately got in touch with the owner and made him an offer the same day, which he accepted.
How did you find the buying process?
The buying process was relatively straightforward. I took a mortgage, which makes it a little bit lengthier as the seller had a mortgage too, so the banks needed to settle between themselves.
We completed in four weeks, which is quite quick for a mortgage-to-mortgage deal, although I was already familiar with the process because I’ve guided so many other buyers through it in my work.
A good tip to save some cash is to take fee financing, which is where your buying fees such as agency fees and Dubai Land Department fees can be added to the mortgage. I did this so I would have extra cash to spend on renovations.
I’d also definitely recommend using a mortgage broker because they’re really helpful with guiding you through the sales process and will shop around to get you the best deal.
What gains are there from owning rather than renting?
When you own your own home, you can keep it up to a really nice standard without relying on anyone else.
You’re not limited to using whatever contractor materials your landlord chooses, you can pick quality materials for renovations that you know are going to last.
It’s also reassuring to know that you’re not going to be evicted or face rental increases every time the contract renewal rolls around.
What upgrades are you planning?
I would like to change the AC units because I didn’t do that when I moved in and they are quite old.
I’m also potentially putting in a pool for the winter months, which is exciting, although I’m not sure how I’ll manage to keep the dogs from jumping in and wreaking havoc.
What are the disadvantages of living in The Springs?
The main disadvantage I’ve experienced is mosquitos, because it is a very green area with lots of lakes.
Aside from that the community is a little bit older so if you haven’t renovated then the building might not be in the best condition, but as long as you maintain your home properly it’s not a problem.
Will you stay in this property?
I’m hoping to stay here for another couple of years. But in the future, I plan to upgrade to a larger property.
Depending on how the market is at the time, I’ll either sell the villa or rent it out.