Big or small, apartment or condo, we all have a “dream” home in mind that we wish to own someday. Naturally, to ensure that the house you end up buying is not far from the one you always dreamed of, you must dig your heels in and pull out all the stops until you find the right place. Yes, it can be a little daunting to purchase a new property, especially in a big city like Dubai or Abu Dhabi, but checklists at every step can make the process easier and less challenging.

Here’s a five-step guide to owning a dream house in the city of dreams.

Choosing between off-plan or resale

In Dubai, you can either pick an ‘off-plan’ property straight from a developer or go for the resale option, i.e. purchasing from the owner. There are a lot of factors that go into deciding which of these options is best for you.

For instance, off-plan offers bigger discounts compared to ready property since it comes under the risky asset class. Plus, it allows buyers the flexibility to choose the type of property and offer customization options. But remember, with off-plan, you must always consider things such as reputation of builder, handover and completion date, quality of the property, etc. On the other hand, if you are unwilling to wait for years and wish to take possession of property immediately, you can pick a ready to move-in house. While it may not allow the flexibility of an off-plan property, it is definitely a low-risk choice.

[Related: Your Guide to Buying Off-Plan Property in Dubai]

Scouting location

When it comes to picking out your dream house, you should be looking at more than just design and layout. Location plays an important role in determining the success of your investment so you must choose wisely where you wish to purchase your new house. Take every factor into account while picking the house – Is it close to your workplace? Do you have access to major highways? Are there schools/hospitals/supermarkets nearby? Is it in a quiet neighborhood? The location will not only impact the quality of life you wish to lead in your new house but also determine the price of the property and its resale value.

Checking your creditworthiness

Check your credit report and credit score to make sure it does not contain any errors as a bad report makes it harder to secure a home loan. In case you find any glaring mistakes, make sure you get those rectified well in time. Also, since buying a new house is a major financial decision, try to get your monthly budget in order well in advance. Pay off existing debts so that you can maintain sufficient liquidity for monthly EMIs and start a savings plan to set aside ready money for down payment.

Sorting out home finance

If you’re not an upfront cash buyer, you will need to secure a bank loan to be able to purchase your chosen property. According to the UAE Central Bank, as an expatriate borrower you are required to make a down payment of 25% for properties under AED 5 million and 35% for properties worth over AED 5 million. This percentage goes up to 50% for 0ff-plan properties.

Each lender has its own set of criteria while assessing a borrower, but some of the common things they look for include current income, credit history, financial commitments (no more than 50% of income should be tied up in debts), etc. Getting a loan pre-approval or in-principle nod for the mortgage in advance is also important as you don’t want to lose a bid due to clearance issues later.

[Related: How I saved over AED 100,000 on my home loan!]

Transferring the title deed

To seal the deal and complete the purchase process of your property, you will be required to transfer the title deed. The deed will be transferred once you present 100 percent of the purchase price. So you will need your bank to bring the cheque for the remaining amount at the time of transfer. The original deed will remain with the bank until the loan amount is repaid in full.