My Own Home: Dubai couple escaped eviction by buying Dh5.25m Damac Hills villa

Indian nationals Misbah Baig and Nitish Verma swapped the city's turbulent rental market for the security of owning their own five-bedroom home

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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

When Misbah Baig and her husband Nitish Verma received an eviction notice it prompted them to buy their own villa.

The couple, both aged 35 and originally from India, moved into a newly-built property on Damac Hills estate last June after making some upgrades.

Ms Baig, a crypto exchange consultant, and her husband, who works in IT sales, share the house with their three-year-old son, their live-in nanny, and four cats.

Ms Baig showed The National around their home.

Please tell us about your villa

We have five bedrooms – one downstairs and the rest upstairs – that was one of the criteria because we have parents who visit and they’re getting older.

Each bedroom has its own bathroom. Plus the maid’s room has a bathroom.

We have a living room with a dining area. There’s a closed kitchen, which we wanted because we do a lot of cooking which is quite aromatic.

We have a smaller living room upstairs that we use as a study and TV lounge.

We have one electric car so we have had a charging point installed and two parking spaces, which are covered.

We also have enough space in front of the house to park around six cars because we sit back from the street.

What prompted you to buy this property?

We were renting a four-bedroom villa in Arabian Ranches 2 during Covid. At that point the rents were really low, but about two years in we were served notice. The landlady wanted to increase the rent by more than Dh100,000 and when we didn’t agree she served us notice that she was going to sell.

That’s when we decided to buy a house.

It was always the plan, but that pushed us to expedite it. The rent was just too high, almost double what we were going to pay, and it didn’t make sense to spend so much on a rented property.

We had to extend the contract by a couple of months, but we didn’t pay the amount she asked.

It’s frustrating to be kind of bullied into leaving by an exorbitant increase, but we did the calculation between paying rent and a mortgage and found that it was easier.

How much did your home cost?

We got a good deal because it was a bit of a distress sale.

We negotiated quite well as the person selling had to sell fast, so they came down in price. We bought it for Dh5.25 million.

We bought last year in March. In April, we started renovations, which took two and a half months. Then we moved in.

About Dh6.5 million is the lowest price for the same villa type right now, not upgraded.

What made you select this area?

In the past we’ve always lived where we worked, but with the pandemic we shifted out to the suburbs.

We lived in Arabian Ranches 2 when we first had our child and found that we gravitated towards a place that was better for family rather than work.

Plus, my husband's work is not in one location because he travels a lot.

I work from home and we also have a lot of friends who live around here.

What drew you to this villa?

We really loved all the communities that were near Arabian Ranches 2 and we wanted a place that was close to my son’s school.

I chose this house because of the light, the layout, and size – it has big bedrooms.

It’s a very modern development, which I was looking for. It’s a single row, so we don’t face any neighbours, and it is super convenient to get in and out, with multiple exits which make life easy in the morning.

Where else have you lived?

The majority of the time we were in Discovery Gardens, and then we shifted to JLT [Jumeirah Lakes Towers].

We have a three-bedroom apartment at Al Andalus, in Jumeirah Golf Estates, that we bought off-plan in 2017, so we lived there for a while.

When we had our son, we thought: “Let’s try a villa.”

Al Andalus was not great with a child and during the pandemic we felt a little isolated. It didn’t have much around, although now it’s a great area with lots of things.

During the pandemic rents were low – that’s when we went to Arabian Ranches.

What home improvements have you made?

We didn’t make structural changes, but we did renovate the master bathroom. We completely gutted it and redid the whole configuration.

The rest was quite cosmetic.

For the kitchen, we painted cabinets and put in a splashback and added storage.

We changed one room into a walk-in closet – so a lot of carpentry work.

We got a lot of storage put in, because for a house of this size there was very little. We did a bit of lighting work, added a security system with some automated doors, and painted.

We did the backyard; a pergola-shaded barbecue area, and some turfing and tiling. And we upgraded waterproofing on the roof.

Al Andalus was our first renovation, a very small one, like an introduction. Essentially, we did lighting and extra storage and were able to paint walls for the first time.

But that piqued my interest towards interiors and interior design.

What facilities are available?

It’s a five-minute walk to Damac Hills Park, which is beautiful.

It has a petting zoo, Malibu Beach pool, which is amazing, a barbecue area and a kids' play area, lots of space to run around. You have lakes with ducks.

It’s also a 10-minute walk to Mudon Community Centre, which has a nursery, restaurants, a Geant supermarket, and Mudon Park as well.

We can walk to Trump golf course, its clubhouse, Damac Hills Community Centre with the gym and restaurants, and now there’s Damac Hills Mall.

What advantages are there to owning versus renting?

It was cheaper to pay the mortgage. The way rents were rising, we were terrified of what we would have to pay next.

We had two choices: either downgrade or go back to living in an apartment, because we were not going to pay so much rent.

We were paying Dh165,000 for a four-bed villa, and then they wanted Dh300,000. It just seemed crazy.

We found a good house for what we felt was a very good price.

We’ve been here [in the UAE] more than half our lives. I came with my family.

We felt like it was the right time to put down roots so that our children grow up in one house, have that base and we don’t have to keep shifting.

We had invested in Dubai before and felt quite positive about it.

We would pay around Dh450,000 [to rent this house] now.

Do you plan to buy more property?

We feel like Dubai is a great place to invest.

We’ll probably buy more for investment, maybe apartments, ideally have a few rental properties as a second source of income.

The prices right now make it hard to buy anything, though.

Updated: March 06, 2024, 3:41 AM