Real Estate Accounting in Dubai

Real Estate Accounting in Dubai

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Dubai has emerged as a top global hub for real estate investment, with lavish properties and new developments continuing to attract buyers from across the world. However, the specific accounting and financial reporting policies in Dubai’s property ecosystem can be confusing for first-time investors. Properly recording revenues, expenses, assets, taxes, and managing escrow accounts is key for smooth functioning. This guide covers Dubai’s real estate accounting basics in simple terms – read on to learn!

Key Accounting Rules Governing Dubai Real Estate

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) provide the accounting framework in the UAE, with all public companies and larger developers required to follow IFRS guidelines. Small and mid-sized businesses often adopt simpler IFRS for SME principles.

Additionally, certain laws specifically outline the real estate accounting procedures in Dubai:

  • UAE Federal Law No 2 of 2015 regulates areas like escrow accounts, pre-sales revenue recognition, and strata title financial statements.
  • The Dubai Land Department also issues financial reporting regulations for rental returns and other requirements linked to registering properties.

Let’s explore some key accounting considerations for common Dubai real estate transactions:

Recognizing Revenues from Property Sales

The timing of revenue recognition varies depending on the type of property sale:

Outright Purchase Transactions

  • For outright cash purchases, developers book the full revenue when units legally transfer ownership to buyers. This usually occurs after project completion and handover of units to purchasers.

Off-Plan Sales

  • As pre-construction or off-plan sales are popular in Dubai, developers sell units while projects are still underway.
  • In such cases, they recognize revenues gradually over the construction timeline using the “% completion method”. Costs incurred on construction serve as a basis to record matching revenues.
  • As milestones hit, percentages complete, allowing partial revenue recognition.

Installment Contract Sales

  • If sales contracts contain post-handover deferred payments or installments spanning months or years, developers record revenue as installments are due rather than entirely upfront.

The key is aligning revenue with performance obligations under the buyer contract terms.

Accounting for Rental Income

Reporting rental revenue follows simple accrual basis accounting:

  • Firms book rental income in the period when rents contractually fall due.
  • Expenses like annual service charges, property taxes, etc. are matched against rental revenue in the same periods.

VAT and Income Tax Considerations

  • Developers must account for 5% Value Added Tax (VAT) on all Dubai property sales and rental income per UAE tax authority stipulations.
  • While corporate income tax does not apply in Dubai, rental companies may fall under the commercial levy tax if crossed the threshold.
  • Strata title owners’ associations with high service charges also sometimes attract taxes. Confirming tax applicability with an advisor is prudent.

Tracking Escrow & Trust Accounts

  • UAE laws mandate developers segregate buyer payments into escrow accounts until construction milestones trigger revenue recognition.
  • Separate trust accounts also exist for holding service fees collected on behalf of owners’ associations.
  • Meticulous tracking and reporting provides transparency around these custodial funds.

Financial Statements & Reporting

Robust financial statements and reports remain fundamental for real estate accounting:

  • Investors rely on developer financial statements to gauge returns and risks to inform decisions.
  • Strata title property owners depend on homeowners association (HOA) reports to manage communal finances.
  • Both audit and unaudited internal management reports & dashboards are thus essential.

Global best practices like retaining documentation, account reconciliations, and financial controls apply alongside regulatory mandates.


Managing revenues, costs, and taxes for a fast-paced Dubai development project can be challenging. However, sound accounting practices lend credibility and trust for developers and associated owner entities.

By understanding the applicable regulations – from revenue recognition to escrow accounts – investors can avoid missteps. Weaving global standards with local rules enables sustainable success in Dubai’s exciting property landscape.

While number-crunching seems boring, real estate financial literacy drives profitable and transparent outcomes in the competitive Dubai market!


What taxes apply to Dubai rental income?

While corporate income tax is nil, commercial levies sometimes apply. 5% VAT is also mandatory on all Dubai rental revenue.

When can developers book revenues for off-plan sales?

Gradual revenue recognition during construction follows the percentage completion method. Final amounts get booked post-handover to buyers.

What statements must Dubai developers publish?

Public and large Dubai developers must publish annual IFRS-based financial statements – income statement, statement of financial position, statement of cash flows, and statement of changes in equity.

Who governs Dubai’s real estate accounting rules?

The IASB outlines IFRS followed in UAE. Dubai Financial Services Authority also issues the financial reporting regulations for Dubai International Financial Centre firms.



Ms. Vibha Modi, CA, is supported by 13+ Years of Corporate Tax, International Taxation and Accounting Expertise.

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