Ask the Law: What should buyers verify before purchasing off-plan property in Dubai?

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Question: What are the things that must be verified before purchasing a property from an off-plan developer? How can I verify the credibility of the developer and its ability to complete the project? Also, is there a maximum period for completing the project?

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Answer: Some of the requirements to buy such a property are:

a. Ensure that the property is free from any debts (mortgage, charges, etc) and that the developer has all the required approvals from the competent authorities (DLD, RERA, registered escrow account) to start building.

b. Research about the developer before buying off-plan property and make sure it is established and reliable. Look at their track record with previous developments.

c. Have the proper clauses in your sale and purchase agreement, which should outline the terms and conditions, govern the relationship between the parties and provide their respective rights and obligations in order to understand your duties, your rights and, most importantly, if the project is delayed beyond the mutually agreed period.

The credibility of the developer can be checked only by the DLD, registered escrow account and RERA.

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What about the project timeline?

There is no maximum period to complete the project. The completion date should be stated by both parties in the purchase agreement, but the developer doesn’t have forever to complete if the sales contract did not contain a specific date for completion and delivery.

The time of completion should be reasonable and the court has the right to estimate such appropriate period of time, as per what is decided by the Higher Courts of Dubai in Cassation No. 328/2023 of Real Estate.

In an off-plan sale, the developer must complete the project in order to deliver the units to the buyer at an appropriate time, even if the sales contract did not contain a specific date for completion and delivery, as this does not justify the seller’s endless laxity in completing the project and delivering the units.