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Better Mortgages


Contents 14 04 The Market Now Better Homes’ industry expert Nilgun Akay on the current position of the mortgage and property market. Plus, details of the mortgage rates currently on offer from UAE banks.

06 Ask The Experts Sam Wani of mortgage advisers Independent Finance reveals all about the process of getting a mortgage in the UAE, detailing everything you need to know.

Resident Interviews For a first hand account of securing a mortage and buying property in the

UAE, Better Mortgages speaks to three distinct types of buyer:

so and share their thoughts on the future of Dubai’s mortgage market.

14 The first time buyer

22 The Investors

Lisa Brightwell bought her first home at a time when mortgage rights were at an all time high in Dubai. She reveals how she renegotiated her terms to fall more in line with the current market.

Bobby and Suzy Sandhu were in the right place at the right time - at the outset of the Dubai property boom. They share their story of how they invested and the rent-to-own scheme they entered into to buy their first property.

18 The long-term residents Graham and Elaine Bell have spent over a decade in the GCC, deciding to buy a home in Dubai back in 2007. They share their experience of doing

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Cover and interview images: Nasir Rauf

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The Market Now

To get the lowdown on the position of the property and mortgage markets at the outset of 2012, Better Mortgages speaks to industry expert Nilgun Akay, Residential Sales Consultant at Better Homes’ Dubai Marina branch.

Issue one

It’s all good news at present for the UAE real estate market. Institutions here are seeking to boost regional lending as a means of supporting government spending to diversify the economy. Thus, as the number of banks and mortgage lenders in the regional market continues to amplify, the kind of mortgage products being offered has risen to meet the needs of a growing exchange. Contrary to how things were previously, nowadays it’s easier to find mortgages that require relatively low down payments (as low as 20% in some cases) and come without a pre-payment penalty should you wish to settle your loan early. The negative effects of the shortage of off-plan mortgage offers have been countered by the easing of some new financial procedures for certain professions. Now more than ever, businesses, individuals, and investors are able to qualify for ready property purchases. Current rates, which average around 4.99% adjustable for 20 to 25 years, have been very well received by buyers and show the results of banks borrowing at a lower cost. Mortgage rates will be stable

for a while, encouraging end-users who could not borrow due to higher interest rates in the past to become players in this buyers-market era. Within the last year, there has been an influx of inquiries from prospective buyers in the GCC, wider Middle East and North Africa, as they seek information on how to obtain a mortgage in the UAE. Ideally, banks and local lenders will look into creating special lending conditions and products for these non-resident buyers, helping to stimulate the expansion of Dubai’s real estate market. Sales of homes in 2011 have been brisk, with people searching to invest in a stable and safe environment that has not been effected by the political unrest in the region. Lately, along with everpopular areas like Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residences, downtown Dubai properties have become very attractive to potential buyers. With the recent completion of alluring buildings, the area is becoming a hot spot for young professionals. Elsewhere, although the community is not yet fully complete, villa purchases have been on the rise in the newly

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‘Now more than ever, businesses, individuals, and investors are able to qualify for property purchases’ built Jumeirah Village Circle and Triangle projects. While a shortage of certain types of villa listings in The Springs, Meadows, and The Lakes can be interpreted as signs of a stabilising market and may be the beginning of an upturn in residential property prices. Now, as more and more people meet the qualifications for home loans combined with a balanced supply and demand, we’re expecting to see a positive effect on property prices and some appreciation in the near future. Moreover, as banks in the gulf region have withstood the global credit crisis, Dubai is still the number one spot for real estate investment.

The Going Rates

The latest mortgage offerings from the UAE’s largest lenders... provider ABU dHABi FiNANCe

iNTereST rATe

MiN depoSiT


proCeSSiNG FeeS


froM 5.75-8.5%

15% - 25%

30 YEArS

1% If pAId upfront, 1.25% If not

2% oWn fundS 4% BuY out


froM 7.25%- 8.75%


25 YEArS

1% (no CAp)

froM 2%

5.75% 5 YEAr fIxEd

15% - 20%

25 YEArS

1% of LoAn VALuE



20% - 25%

20 - 25 YEArS


2% BEforE 2 YEArS, 1% AftEr 2 YEArS


froM 5.49%


25 YEArS

1% of LoAn VALuE

WAIVEd, ExCEpt If It A BuY out WhErE CuStoMErS hAVE to pAY 3%




25 YEArS

1% of LoAn VALuE

0% AftEr 2 YEArS

04 381 9314

4.99% - 5.99%

30% - 40%

25 YEArS


0% AftEr 2 YEArS

04 342 2000

3.99% for thE 1St YEAr

20% - 30%

25 YEArS

0% LIMItEd offEr

1% BEforE 2 YEArS 3% BuY out

04 424 4444

froM 7.25%


25 YEArS

"1%, CAppEd At AEd 30,000"

"2% oWn fundS 3% BuY out"


20% - 25%

25 YEArS


1% oWn fundS 5% BuY out

04 312 0000

froM 4.99%


25 YEArS

1% of L/A

0% AftEr 5th YEAr

02 616 5605

froM 5.25%

15% - 25%

upto 25 YEArS



3.99% (5.99% fIxEd for 5 YEArS)


25 YEArS


0% AftEr 5th YEAr

800 Adf(233)

04 368 4582



eMirATeS NBd






Information is correct at time of press (Jan 9, 2012). Call Better Homes on +971 4 407 4600 for further details.


800 6667

800 tAMWEEL 800474

Terms and Conditions apply to all rates

Ask the experts

All you need to know about UAE mortgages

Sam Wani is General Manager of mortgage advisers Independent Finance. Here he talks us through the process of securing a mortgage in the UAE.

Issue one

What paperwork do you need to get a mortgage? You will need to show proof of income, any liabilities and your residence details. Income can be proven by providing a salary certificate from your employer, six months’ bank statements, pay-slips and your employment contract. A liability is proven by providing a liability letter and the latest statement from the lending organisation. Residence can be proven with a copy of your residence visa, rental contract and a DEWA bill. Remember that most liabilities, credit cards and bank statements, are visible on the central bank database which is accessible to all the banks. You also need to submit documents of the property you want to mortgage. These documents are the title deed, sales-andpurchase agreement, layout plan and a NOC form the developer. If you are self-employed you will need to show proof of your company ownership in form of a trade license, chamber of commerce registration, audited financial reports for at least two years and the last twelve months of business bank statements, which you can request from your bank.

Do you have to be interviewed by the mortgage provider before they agree to lend? It’s not an interview as such. Normal process for us is that we’d sit with a client and carry out a full fact find. The banks don’t tend to ask too many questions, in comparison to independent mortgage providers like ourselves. We aim for a comprehensive idea of the client’s financial circumstances, and so each client must fill out a 12-page fact finding form. If you’re applying direct to a bank for a mortgage you’ll have to fill out a mortgage application form, which is similar but tends not to go into as much detail. Though this can vary from bank to bank. What questions will the provider ask me? Basically the lender will want to know about your finances; your salary and any other additional income, any assets that you may have, what, if any, liabilities that you have and what is your pattern of expenditure – how much do you spend per month and what do you spend it on. We simply need to find out if the client is in a strong enough position financially,

‘There are three stages to pass through to secure a mortgage; pre-approval, final offer and exchange of contracts’ which means that the value of the property they’re buying shouldn’t be valued at more than that figure.

and if they are, then how much can they afford to pay as a monthly installment in addition to their fixed monthly expenditure. Is there a minimum salary requirement? That’s dependent on the lender, but in the majority of cases the minimum salary, individually or combined with your partner, should be Dhs20,000. Some banks may say a salary of Dhs10,000 is enough, but to me that does not make sense as it would be a challenge to live sufficiently well when making repayments. Are there age limits to securing a mortgage? Yes, 21 would be lowest age at which you Issue one

can secure a mortgage, but at the other end of the age scale some lenders will lend up to the age of 60, some will lend up to the age 65, and others up to the age of 70. It very much depends on the lender and how they assess the personal circumstances of the customer. Do I need a deposit? If so, how much is it, typically? The deposit needed varies between different products and lenders. Normally, most lenders will ask for a 20%-25% deposit. Some brokers will get you exclusive products where you only need to put down a 15% down payment, while for UAE nationals only there are 100% mortgages available, meaning that no deposit is required. This, however, is capped at a figure of Dhs2.2 million,

Are there key stages to the process of being approved for the mortgage? Yes. There are three stages to pass through; pre-approval, final offer and exchange of contracts. The first stage is pre-approval, the point of which is that the bank should find you eligible to be lent money. This money has to be lent in accordance to the bank’s set policy. Different banks have different policies, and this policy is defined by various things, including the bank’s appetite for risk and what type of customers they’re looking for. Different banks target different market segments. Of course, all banks want the top 10% wealthiest people in a county, naturally, but that aside some are targeting UK expatriates, some target Indian entrepreneurs, while others look for the mid-market – couples, or mid-to-senior management (the bulk of the population. Once a bank is content that you fit into its defined policy and that your financial situation isn’t a problem, you’re issued a pre-approval letter which means the loan is agreed. This process can take anything from 4 hours to 15 days, it really depends on your personal circumstances, which includes the job that you do. Once you’re confirmed as eligible for the loan, the bank then has to value and approve the property you’re buying. The property should have a title deed registered at the Land Department, and if it’s not, at least the building should be approved by the bank’s operations department – different banks have different policies and some will only lend on particular properties built by particular developers. Once the bank has approved the property you’re issued with a Final Offer Document, which is the comprehensive agreement between

the applicant and the bank. Once the applicant signs this letter they must pay a processing fee (typically from 0% to 1.25% of the loan amount). Finally, all the legal requirements are undertaken and an appointment is set at the Land Department, which all concerned parties (customer, bank, developer) have to attend for the formal exchange of contracts. The appointed officer at the Land Department ensures that everyone has been paid what they should be paid, before issuing a title deed in favour of the property’s new owner. Can you have more than one mortgage in the UAE? Yes, you can have as many mortgages as you want provided you can service the repayments. Some banks will do up to 3 mortgages per person, some international banks may actually offer more. It’s wholly dependent on a customer’s individual financial Issue one

circumstances and the bank’s appetite to lend the money. If I have a mortgage elsewhere in the world is that taken into account? Yes, if you had a mortgage elsewhere in the world that would have to declared during the initial financial fact find. The lender will not contact your lender overseas, so will not know of your repayment history there. Only your financial history in the UAE is considered. What are the different types of mortgages available? There are many different kinds of mortgage products. The ones most prevalent in UAE are residential mortgages meant for residential property, commercial mortgages for commercial property, non-resident mortgages for non-resident investors, interest-only mortgages where you only make interest payments and fixed-

rate mortgages where rate is fixed for a certain term. There are almost 200 variants of these mortgage types, and that number will grow. Is the lender allowed to alter the terms of the mortgage agreement during its term? Some lenders may alter the terms of the agreement but can only do so if the contract states that they can. I’d always advise to seek the advice of a lawyer before signing a mortgage agreement, so you know full well what you’re agreeing to. Are there additional fees to pay beyond the loan amount? If so, what are these fees? You have to pay for the bank’s processing fee of the mortgage which, as mentioned, can vary from 0-1.25%. Then there’s the mortgage registration at the Land Department, which is 0.25%, the bank’s valuation fee, which can be

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up to Dhs3,000 and, if you use one, the mortgage broker’s fee, which can be between 0.5-0.75%. Do you pay off your mortgage weekly, monthly, annually? Can you choose? Almost all mortgages require a monthly repayment. Do I have to start paying my mortgage as soon as I’ve been paid the loan amount? Your first repayment will come out the month following the loan disbursal. Previously, when banks would lend on off-plan properties, you’d pay only the interest built up on your loan and not pay the full monthly installment until the property was ready to move into, but now that banks only lend on completed property (although the first off-plan product since the slowdown will soon enter the market) the full monthly installment is payable once the loan has been disbursed.

Is it possible to settle your loan earlier than agreed in your contract, or switch mortgage providers during the course of the loan? If so, are there costs involved? Banks used to charge a customer a percentage of the loan amount if they wished to settle their loan early, but that tends not to happen anymore. The vast majority of the banks won’t charge a penalty for this. The only time they will charge to settle the loan amount is if you are switching from them to another loan provider – different lenders have different redemption penalties for doing this, ranging from 0-5% of the outstanding loan amount – but if the money is coming from the customer’s own funds there is typically no charge. Can you move mortgage provider more than once? Yes you can, if it makes economic sense for you to do so as there will be financial penalties incurred.


Can you alter the payment terms during the course of the mortgage? Normally you can’t. But it is sometimes possible at the discretion of the lender. I have known banks to change the terms but it’s a very rare occurrence. What is the longest and shortest period of time you can pay back your mortgage? Minimum period is one year, while the maximum can be as long as 30 years. Again, that’s something dependent on the lender and the personal circumstances of the loanee. Is there any difference in lending and borrowing between the emirates? No, the rules and regulations are set by the individual lenders, not the emirates. What happens to my mortgage if I have to leave the UAE? Do I have to pay it all before I go? No, you’d simply inform the lender and

‘Some lenders may alter the terms of the agreement but can only do so if the contract states that they can do so’

keep paying your monthly installments as normal. It doesn’t matter where you’re based in the world so long as these payments are kept up. Is it possible to get a mortgage in a currency other than dirhams? If you’re a UAE resident you can only get a UAE dirham mortgage. As a nonresident, though, you can have multicurrency mortgages from international lenders. Is it possible to take out a mortgage between more than two people? For example, if 4 people wanted to buy a house together? Typically, no. Some lenders may loan to the mother, father and child but most of the time it is two people only. If I get turned down for a mortgage by one provider, will that be known by other lenders and then count against me? You’d struggle to go back to the bank who declined to lend you the money in the first place, but it won’t stop you seeking (and getting) a loan from another provider. It won’t be known that you have been declined elsewhere. Whether you get a loan is purely at the discretion of the lender. Can I get a mortgage from a UAE bank to buy property overseas? No. But if you’re working and living in the UAE a mortgage broker can get you a loan through a bank overseas for property in that country, but a bank can only lend on property in the country in which they have jurisdiction. Someone like HSBC, though, can make an introduction for you to one of their overseas branches. Issue one

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Duncan Crerar of NEXUS Insurance Brokers. Here he talks of the cover you’ll require when taking out a mortgage.

Is it compulsory to take out insurance against your mortgage? You should ask your lender. Most will insist that you take life insurance, some lenders will insist that you take insurance through them, others will ask you to arrange your own cover and assign it to the bank before your funds are released. You will also be required to take out buildings insurance. Again, some lenders will insist that you take this insurance through them, where as others will ask you to arrange your own cover and assign it to the bank before your funds are released. In any case, it is always advisable to seek advice from a financial adviser. They will be able to do a full financial review to ensure that in the event that you are unable to work, or worse, your mortgage is paid off and you and your family are able to afford to live. What do the insurance policies tend to cover? There are many options available in the market. You can buy cover in the event of your death, permanent disability, critical illness, hospitalisation, to name but a few. Speak to your adviser about the best cover for you, but you must ensure that your policy meets the minimum requirements stipulated by your lender. Buildings insurance will protect you against damage to the structure of your house and all of the permanent fixtures inside, such as the bathroom suite. If you wish to insure the


contents of your house (items that can be moved including your furniture) then you will need to purchase a separate ‘contents’ policy. Are there different levels of insurance available? Yes, there are many options available in the market. Talk to your adviser about the most suitable to your own needs. What is the typical cost of the insurance? Is it a one off or annual payment? If you are taking a bank policy, the terms will be dictated to you by the bank. If you are arranging your own policy, the payment structure can be tailored to suit your needs, either monthly or annual. Can you switch insurance providers during the course of the mortgage? If so, is there a cost involved? If you are insured by your own policy (rather than the bank’s mandatory one) then, in theory, yes you can. You will need to ensure that your new policy is set up before you cancel your existing one. The new policy will also need to be assigned to the bank and your bank may well charge you for this. Also, there may be exit or early surrender penalties charged by your insurance provider. Always check your terms and conditions before surrendering and ask your adviser about the charges on your new policy.

The first time buyer

Homeowner Lisa Brightwell tells us why it made sense for her to invest in a home rather than pay rent to a landlord Images by Nasir Rauf /

Why did you decide to buy in Dubai? At the time, the market prices had dropped and villas, which used to be unaffordable, (I felt they were overpriced) then became affordable, so I decided to look at buying. After being in Dubai for a long period of time and living in an apartment for all of it, I craved outdoor space. Also, if you want to have a family you need to make sure you’ve got enough space for that. It’s nice to have a garden that kids can run around in, and a barbecue area. So that’s why I started to look at villas instead of apartments. Issue one

Did you have to pay a large deposit? I got an 85 per cent mortgage, so had to pay a 15 per cent deposit. In fact, I chose my mortgage lender on the basis that they offered us an 85 per cent mortgage. How did you find the mortgage process? Did you have a lot of questions for your mortgage lender? It was difficult, because at that time a lot of mortgage lenders were only lending to employees of certain companies. If you worked at a property company that was going through known financial difficulties, banks were not loaning to

you. But I was very lucky at the time because I was working for a large, well-known local company. It was a tricky time and the interest rates were super high. As a buyer you had to be aware that interest rates were 8.5 per cent, where as interest rates in the UK, where I’m from and therefore used to, were much, much lower. However, I still felt like it was worthwhile getting a mortgage here because the company I worked for at the time was subsidising the cost of my accommodation. I thought; what if I could capitalise on buying a house while the prices were

Better Mortgages

low? Instead of using the money I was given to pay rent to a landlord, I could use it to part pay a mortgage each month and then at least I was paying into something I owned. The idea was that I’d also benefit from the value of my house growing greater over time, and though there’s been no growth to date I’m still happy to be hanging on in there. Were there any additional costs involved? Yes there are a few, depending on whether you’re buying leasehold or

freehold. When you are buying freehold you have to go and register your property. For leasehold, I didn’t have to do that. You do have to pay a set up fee, and bank fees. But these costs are nothing compared to what’s charged in somewhere like the UK, where you pay a huge amount in stamp duty. How did you decide on your mortgage provider, and what type of mortgage did you go for? Here they don’t really offer the portfolio of mortgages you get in the UK, so you


can either go for repayment, repayment or repayment - there was nothing like interest-only mortgages available. My bank offered me an 85 per cent mortgage, and as I didn’t have the deposit the other banks required, that’s who I went with. What is the UAE lacking in terms of mortgages? Interest-only mortgages would allow people to buy and just pay off the interest. I don’t know whether that’s a good idea in this day and age, but it does

give people the opportunity to spend a bit more on housing, I think. What do you think about the interest rates in the UAE, are they too high? I think they’re high, but they’ve come down considerably from the 8.5 per cent I paid initially - I noticed one at 3.99 per cent recently, which compared to 8.5 per cent obviously has a massive impact on your monthy repayments. Mortgages now are becoming competitive and I was able to negotiate mine down to a rate that I think is more appropriate to the market at this point.   How did you go about renegotiating your interest rates? Contractually my lender didn’t have to negotiate, so I said I was going to switch my mortgage to a new lender and they said ‘no, don’t go anywhere, we’ll negotiate.’ I think whether you you can negotiate or not depends very much on personal circumstanes and the situation of the market, but I think it helps if you’re an existing customer of the bank providing your mortgage. Most banks stipulate that if you take out a mortgage with them you have to have your salary transferred to them, so it’s more than likely that you will be an existing customer.   Can the lender renegotiate your mortgage? Yes I believe they can, their rates go up depending on the market. They can put it up and down as they want to. Have you ever had a mortgage in another country, and how does it compare to securing a mortgage here in Dubai? I haven’t but I think it’s pretty similar; you have to provide the same documentation. Though here you have to provide residency visa info. Has your mortgage provider been helpful if you’ve ever had to ask any questions? Yes, very helpful. They’ve been really good. I can manage everything online and I also have someone taking care of my paperwork. It’s been painless. Issue one

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‘Instead of using the money I was given to pay rent to a landlord, I thought I’d use it to part pay a mortgage each month’


The long-term expatriates Graham and Elaine Bell are long-term residents of the GCC, and finally decided to buy a home in Dubai back in 2007. Here they recall how they went about buying it and share their thoughts on the current mortgage market. Images: Nasir Rauf /

Issue one

How long have you been in the region? 16 years. We were first in Qatar, then Abu Dhabi, then finally Dubai, all because of work. Why did you decide to buy after all that time? A couple of reasons, really. Firstly because I (Graham) receive an accommodation allowance as part of my remuneration package and so it made sense to use it to pay towards a mortgage, rather than rent. And at the time that we bought our home here (2007) rents in Dubai were also very

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high, so overall it made sense to us to buy somewhere. We bought secondhand, before the building was fully constructed. How did you go about getting a mortgage? We used a mortgage broker who was recommended to us by the real estate company who we bought through. They were really good, very easy to deal with. They did all the paper and leg work so all we had to do was to provide them with the necessary documents. It certainly saved a lot of time and hassle. I can’t remember the exact cost

of the broker, something in the region of Dhs3,000, but it was money well spent. I’d also recommend that people use a lawyer, too, when arranging their mortgage, so they can thoroughly check through all the terms and conditions. We didn’t (use a lawyer), but in hindsight wish we had. Are you happy with the mortgage you have in place? At the time we bought there were only two banks lending on our property, which was common practice back in 2007. But now we’d be able to shop around for a mortgage. The rate we have


now has been reduced since we first took it out, and I think that’s a result of the increased competition in the market, which can only be a good thing for prospective buyers. When we bought it was very much a sellers’ market. In fact, before we bought this property we had an offer accepted on another, and just as we were finalising everything the seller suddenly upped the price. We asked him why and he said he wanted the extra money to buy a Maserati! What made you decide on this particular property? We liked the developer’s other

‘We used a mortgage broker and consider it to be money well spent. I’d also recommend that people use a lawyer’

Issue one

buildings, having been to a showroom in one particular building and liked the finishing and facilities, and this was supposed to be the best of all of their buildings. The location is also great (directly opposite the Royal Meridien Dubai). When you buy off plan it’s difficult to pick the little things out, so the few things we didn’t like about the apartment when we saw it fully completed – the small en-suite in the master bedroom and the maid’s room being attached to the kitchen – we modified on moving in.

Did you consider buying elsewhere in the UAE? Had work have taken me to Abu Dhabi we may well have bought there. We have friends living in the Al Raha Beach development and it’s lovely. The apartments are right on the marina, have huge windows and none of the views from them are restricted. What do you think will happen to the mortgage market in the UAE? I can see there being more regulation to bring the banks in line, making it

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more like it is in Europe and the rest of the world. Using EIBOR (the inter-bank lending rate) as a means of setting mortgage rates, which happens here, is something that they don’t do elsewhere. And it’s things like that which I think will change. Redemption charges are also still high – they are in my contract, at least – but I think competition is definitely helping and I think banks will play a key role in the regeneration of the property market. I think it’s stabilising and that long term Dubai has got to be a good prospect, like another Singapore.


The Investors

Suzy and Bobby Sandhu look back on a time when property was booming and mortgages were an all-new concept in Dubai. Suzy talks us through their experience‌ Images by Nasir Rauf /

Issue one

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Tell us about your property investments in Dubai My husband Bobby and I moved to Dubai around 10 years ago, when it was the boom time for property. We bought a retail space beneath the Marina’s original Six Towers, or ‘Emaar Towers’ as they’re now known. Then, property prices were very low. We also bought two apartments in The Greens – that was a rent-to-own scheme – and a villa in The Meadows, which we live in today. It’s proved to be a great buy. The villas then were dirt cheap; when I compare the price of them to houses in the UK, where we moved from. The property proved to be a great investment. In hindsight, I wish we had bought five of those villas! It didn’t stop there though, did it? What path did your investments take next? We also bought six apartments in International City when it first launched – I’d say that was an ‘ok’ investment. We were getting a great rental income from them at the beginning, but not so much now. We bought six studios in JLT, too. Usually you would get 10% back on your rent, but we’re not getting that at the moment – I’m hoping that will improve. But, the fact is we’re sitting on some property now and that’s a positive place to be. Would you still invest in the same way today? We haven’t looked to invest again in recent times. I think lots of people, ourselves included, had their fingers burnt. We bought two beach houses in a development called White Bay, which has since ceased development. We put three payments down on each villa and that was a lot of money to lose. As for the idea of future investments, we’ll wait to see what happens to the market. Can you give us an example of the type of mortgage you took out? In The Greens they brought in the rent-to-own scheme for the first time, so we decided to do that. It turned out to be very cost effective for us. We rented it for three years before going to Lloyds

TSB for a mortgage. 50% of our rent went to the deposit and the bank lent us the other 50%. That was one of the best deals we took. You have property and businesses both here and in the UK – how did the process of getting a mortgage compare? When we were buying our villa in The Meadows we were looking for a mortgage and thought it would be much the same process as we experienced in the UK, but it really wasn’t. When you’re in the UK, if you’re a sole trader you get more credit to your name, and when you then show your accounts it’s easy to get a mortgage. Here, it was the opposite scenario: if you’re an employee it’s easier to get a mortgage, whereas if you’re selfemployed it’s more difficult. Can you pinpoint one key difference between the two countries? Definitely the interest rates; they’re high here in comparison. We still go back to the UK for mortgages as we have property and business there too, so we have a strong relationship with the bank there. Issue one

Based on your experience, is there a company here you would recommend to others? Lloyds TSB. With them it was quite simple, Bobby just had to show business accounts and proof of income, so that was straightforward. We’d tried other banks, too, but they weren’t as good. That said, at that time mortgages had only just been introduced in the UAE so teething troubles were probably inevitable. We’ve not tried again recently, but I’m sure they have their act together now. How long did the process of securing your mortgage take? It took about three days with Lloyds. Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently? In hindsight, I probably would have come to Dubai with a lot more cash. I also would have bought more villas when they were priced low, as they were great buys. And I may have put a mortgage in place in the UK before we moved. You can do that if you are resident here and have a good relationship with the banks at home.

‘Our villa proved to be a great investment. In hindsight, I wish we had bought five of them!’

Better Mortgages  

Guide to getting a mortgage in the UAE