Dubai's red-hot real estate market attracts investors and agents worldwide. However, starting a real estate brokerage in the emirate comes with considerable costs. This article examines the expenses involved so you can make an informed business decision.

Costs to Consider:-

Opening a brokerage in Dubai requires professional licensing, office space, legal fees, and more. Main costs include:

  •     Initial license and renewal fees

  •     Office rental and furnishings

  •     Software, hardware, and tools

  •     Legal and professional services

  •     Marketing and advertising

  •     Salaries and commissions

  •     General overhead and operating costs

We'll explore each in detail below.

License and Renewal Fees:-

To legally conduct real estate transactions in Dubai, brokers must register with the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA). Fees include:

  •     Initial brokerage license: AED 50,000+

  •     Individual broker license: AED 15,000+

  •     License renewals: Variable yearly fees

You must also open an escrow account with specific capital reserves, costing upwards of AED 500,000.

Office Space and Furnishings:-

As a brokerage, you need an office to meet with clients. Rental costs vary significantly based on location, size, amenities, number of employees, and more. A small office could run AED 36,000 annually, while a premium space could cost AED 576,000 or more annually.

Beyond rent, factor in:

  •     Office furnishings and equipment

  •     Utilities like electricity and internet

  •     Office supplies and printing

  •     Security fees or deposits

Budget at least AED 100,000 for setup and first-year operations.

Software, Hardware, Tools

Essential tech spends include:

    Brokerage software:- Custom CRM tools to manage listings, clients, and transactions cost approximately AED 30,000 to set up and AED 15,000 annually for licences.

    Hardware:- Desktops/laptops, printers, phones, etc. Budget AED 20,000-50,000 depending on needs.

    Property listing databases:- Paid databases like Reidin set brokers back AED 12,000-18,000 annually.

    Productivity software:- Email, project management, and office packages require AED 5,000-15,000 in annual licensing.

    Website and hosting:- AED 15,000+ for development, alongside yearly hosting fees.

During the brokerage's first year, allocate at least AED 100,000 for crucial software, hardware, tools, and databases.

Legal expenditures include:-

  •     Business set up and licensing – AED 20,000+ in lawyer fees

  •     Agreements and contracts – Form creation and reviews

  •     Accounting and tax filing – Yearly accounting support averages AED 48,000

  •     Insurance – Brokers require liability and errors and omissions insurance, which costs approximately AED 28,800 annually

Earmark at least AED 120,000 in legal and professional services to establish the brokerage.

Marketing and Advertising:-

Promoting your brokerage among clients requires consistent advertising and outreach in channels like:

  •     Online ads

  •     Print ads

  •     Direct mail

  •     Radio and television spots

  •     Email campaigns

  •     Social media management

  •     PR efforts

Depending on reach and frequency, yearly marketing budgets often exceed AED 300,000.

Salaries and Commissions:-

As a service business, employee salaries and sales commissions represent significant recurring expenses, including:

    Leadership and admin salaries:- Based on experience, executive salaries range from AED 120,000 to over AED 300,000. Support staff earn AED 60,000 or less.

    Broker commissions:- Agents earn 2-3% per transaction. For context, 3% of an AED 2 million sale equals an AED 60,000 commission.

Build projections based on expected sales and team size. Unique firms often allot over AED 1 million yearly for salaries and commissions.

General Overhead and Operations:-

General operating costs include:

  •     Transportation – Company cars or employee reimbursements

  •     Training and Education

  •     Taxes and government fees

  •     Office management and maintenance

  •     Financial management

  •     Travel and Entertainment

These miscellaneous but essential spends easily exceed six figures annually.

Total Costs: AED 1 Million+ Annually

In summary, opening and operating a profitable, licensed real estate brokerage in Dubai costs upward of AED 1 million per year, including:

  •     Licensing and professional fees: AED 30,000+

  •     Office space and furnishings: AED 100,000+

  •     Software, hardware, tools: AED 100,000+

  •     Marketing and advertising: AED 300,000+

  •     Salaries and commissions: AED 1 million+

  •     General overhead: AED 100,000+

Specific spending varies widely based on your business model, location, team size, sales volumes, etc.

Keys to Managing Costs:-

To keep expenses under control:

    Start small: Grow your office and team over time to match sales. Starting big risks and significant losses.

    Prioritize tech and tools – The right software and databases drive productivity and sales, delivering excellent ROI. Don't cut corners.

    Offer competitive commissions: Attract top talent by offering commissions matching or exceeding industry averages. This will result in higher sales volumes and profits despite larger payouts.

    Focus locally: Concentrate your business operations and marketing within Dubai, where your brokerage license allows you to operate. This significantly reduces legal complexities and costs.

    Watch salaries: Provide fair pay based on experience and contributions, avoiding overpaying for perceived prestige. Let commissions drive broker income growth.

Exploring Financing Options:-

Self-funding a new Dubai firm remains challenging for many brokers despite the high costs. Seek external capital where possible:

    Bank lending:- Traditional business loans or credit lines allow you to secure financing and repay over time. Require significant collateral and strict loan qualifications.

    Private investors:- Pitch to high-net-worth individuals using written materials and in-person meetings. Offer share ownership or fixed returns on investments in your brokerage. Requires strong sales abilities and financial planning.

    Government funding:- Dubai offers real estate support via Mohammed Bin Rashid Fund capital, Emirates Development Bank startup funding, and free zone formation options. Varying requirements apply.

    Personal funds:- Use savings, home equity, retirement funds or credit cards as available. Weigh heavy risks and include contingencies given the high failure rate for new brokerages.

Blended financing, which mixes internal funds, private money, bank lending, and government support, may provide the most prudent path.

Key Takeaways

    Launching a licensed real estate brokerage in Dubai costs over AED 1 million annually, covering salaries, office expenses, licensing, legal spending, software, marketing and more.

    Prioritize productivity-driving technology and competitive commissions to attract top talent while controlling other operating costs.

    Consider blended financing, including private investment, bank loans and government funding due to the high capital requirements.

    Start small and focus locally until you achieve profitability before expanding offices, staff, and offerings.

When planning your new brokerage, carefully weigh the significant upfront and recurring costs against Dubai's real estate market opportunity. Partner with reputable local professionals to navigate licensing, compliance, and operations.


Dubai offers a vibrant yet costly environment for launching a real estate brokerage. However, new firms can gain a foothold with careful planning regarding licensing, talent, operations, and financing. Before moving forward, weigh projected costs against expected revenues based on local market conditions and your capabilities. Manage spending diligently once launching, focusing resources on revenue-driving activities. With patience and prudence, your Dubai-based brokerage can prove profitable despite stiff market competition.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps to getting a real estate license in Dubai?

The key steps are enrolling in accredited real estate courses, passing RERA licensing exams, finding employment at a brokerage, and applying for your license via your sponsoring brokerage. You must also have appropriate visa or residency status.

How much capital is required to start a brokerage in Dubai?

Prior to becoming cash flow positive, you need upwards of AED 500,000 in capital to cover licensing, office setup, salaries, and operating costs. Many brokers seek outside investors or financing to launch their firms.

What legal entity should I register my Dubai brokerage as?

Most brokerages register as limited liability companies (LLCs) or within industry-free zones. Based on your business plans and financing approach, consult lawyers to weigh the pros and cons of different formation options.

Can foreigners fully own a real estate brokerage in Dubai?

Yes, Dubai allows 100% foreign ownership of brokerages formed within select industry-free zones. Licensing and regulatory requirements still apply. However, foreign ownership caps outside of free zones can complicate operations.

How much do real estate brokers earn in Dubai?

Experienced brokers can earn $250,000 annually, including commissions, making Dubai a rewarding market. However, inconsistent sales among new brokers risk lower earnings once your book of clients is established.

Should I rent or buy office space for my Dubai brokerage?

Renting provides more flexibility for newer firms. Brokerages located within commercial towers gain valuable visibility but require purchased office space. Consider a small rented space until growing your book of business.

What current costs should I budget for a brokerage marketing campaign?

Allocate at least 300,000 AED per year for online, print, email, social media, and event marketing. Given Dubai's highly competitive market, name recognition and lead generation are expensive.

How many brokers should I hire when starting my company?

Consider your available capital, projected sales, and talent acquisition capabilities. Most brokers start very small – even solo – before growing. Avoid bloating overhead with too many underperforming brokers early on.

Should I offer health insurance or other benefits to my Dubai brokerage team?

While not mandatory, consider providing health insurance and standard benefits to attract top talent in a competitive market. As profits allow, expanded coverage can further incentivize hiring and retention.

Can I operate as a broker both within and outside of industry-free zones?

No, RERA licensing is specific to the respective jurisdiction. However, opening multiple brokerages under a parent company umbrella provides one path to scalable market coverage over time.

What technology is essential for modern Dubai brokerages?

CRM software, listing databases, eSignature tools, AI analytics, lead generation services, back office systems, and automated marketing platforms provide vital capabilities to enhance broker productivity and visibility.

How long does it take to start generating brokerage profits in Dubai?

Achieving consistent profitability can take 12-24 months. Pursue it only if you are capitalized to withstand six figures of losses while establishing operations, closing initial sales, and building talent. Undercapitalization sinks most new firms.

Should I take the RERA broker licensing exams before or after forming my company?

First, enrol in accredited courses and pass your licensing exams. Once certified, have employers sponsor your provisional license until additional RERA hurdles are cleared before opening your brokerage.

What percentage of commissions do Dubai real estate brokers receive?

The typical Dubai broker commission splits range from 50/50 for new agents to 70/30 in favour of senior brokers working for top firms. However, rates vary - always clarify when signing your employment contract.

Can I trade Dubai real estate without holding an active broker license?

Acting as a real estate agent or advisor without clearing mandated licensing and registration processes risks significant fines under RERA non-compliance rules. Strictly follow all Dubai broker regulations.

How long must I operate my brokerage before pursuing expansion?

Most experts recommend waiting at least two years to validate your business model and brand locally before expanding via additional offices or service lines. Premature scaling risks financial and operational instability.

Which local Dubai laws impact real estate brokerages?

Key regulations cover corporate formation, broker licensing, escrow management, title transfer, taxation, data privacy, accounting standards and more. Engage legal counsel to ensure compliance across all applicable statutes.