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Expats Guide to Invest in Pakistan Property

Posted by Imlaak on July 8, 2018

Expats Guide to Invest in Pakistan Property

Expats are one of the main source of foreign direct investment in Pakistan. In 2018 expats have sent more than 11.8 Billion USD as remittance in Pakistan in the first 7 months. A major portion of this investment is being used to buy property in Pakistan. Millions of Pakistanis are spread all around the globe to find a better living for themselves and their families. However, at the end of the day they want to invest in Pakistan to secure a home for themselves and their children. Today we need a comprehensive Expats Guide to Investment in Pakistan Property at Government level.

Unfortunately we do not have any plans or policies at the national level to provide these Expats with safe and secure real estate investments. However the public sector has identified this and we can now see dozens of opportunities available to Expats for investment ranging from residential and commercial plots to agriculture and raw land.
The public real estate sector is not regulated in Pakistan and therefore a huge number of projects fail every year and a lot of people lose their heard earned money. Besides this, there are a lot of fraudulent societies who try to rip off people and due to a weak law and order situation, it is too easy for them to get away with this.

If you are an Expat and you are reading this, count yourself lucky. Although this guide is mainly for safe investments in Pakistan and can help people living in Pakistan as well, it is even more relevant to investors who can not visit Pakistan for years and some times do not have a good grip on local real estate developments. This Expats Guide to Invest in Pakistan Property will give you great insight and useful guidelines to ensure that you make safe and secure profitable investments in Pakistan.

Rule No 1 : Invest only in Select Societies

The first and most important rule of all is that you should only invest in tested and trialed societies. If one of your investment in smaller societies has given good returns in the past it does not mean the next one will do as well. All private societies are subject to huge risks  There is no need for you to experiment even if you believe that it will give you great returns.

Better late than never

I will shortlist a few of the societies where i believe you should focus on, these societies will provide you with ample opportunities and it will be easier for you to keep an eye on your investments while you live abroad. The reason to select these societies is that they are regulated, they have been delivering to the people of Pakistan for years now and at an average they have given best results in terms of profit in past couple of decades. In addition liquidity in these big societies is good and therefore it is very easy when you wish to sell as buying is not the only thing which should concern you and selling is equally important for good profit taking.

DHA and Bahria both in their own capacity offer a variety of investment opportunities which should cater for every type of investor. It is even better if you keep your main focus on DHA and do some opportunity investment in Bahria, DHA is by far the most safe place to park your hard earned money.

  • Defence Housing Authority is by far the safest and most profitable of all, keep yourself focused on DHA Lahore and DHA Karachi and newer developments in other cities as well. Your investment will remain secured even if you do not visit it for years. It is the biggest real estate society of Pakistan and holds the maximum share of investment. If you have invested in DHA , you can rest assure that your money is safe and it will multiply in years to come. DHA also provides you with every kind of investment opportunity, starting from small residential plots of 5 Marla up to 2 Kanals and commercial plots of various sizes for investors with deep pockets.
  • Bahria Town is the second best choice when it comes to investment in Pakistan. Although It is more volatile and therefore a bit more risky than DHA but it is the only society i would recommend for Expats other than DHA. In order to get maximum returns from your investment in Bahria Town , you must at all times be in touch with the market and I have personally found that short term and mid term trading is much more effective when it comes to Bahria Town. Bahria Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad offer a variety of investment opportunities for all kind of investors.
  • Gwadar Sangar Housing Society  A lot of our Expats want to invest in Gwadar and one of the most difficult thing is to find a safe investment to put your money in. It is my strong recommendation that if you are an Expat stay away from private land developers for now and avoid buying open land. Sangar is ideal for investment and most safe in my opinion. In addition I will only recommend that you invest a maximum of 15 to 20% of your portfolio in Gwadar.

Rule No 2 : Become a Tax Filer

Government is tightening noose around non filers so it is very important that you must file your taxes immediately. On a more personal note if you are working abroad , chances are that you file your tax returns regularly, therefore it doesn’t hurt you as you will only pay for any profits you make in Pakistan on your property.

A lot of Expats are confused about filing of Tax returns in Pakistan and some fear that our system is not fair. I do not agree though, i believe that while local tax filers may face some issues because of complicated systems involved in tax filing but we must remember that the system is still evolving however for the Expats it is very crystal clear and offers great financial benefits.

On every major transaction you will save hundreds of thousands and it only costs 10000 PKR  a year to file your taxes.

Unlike before now you can not become a tax filer at any time of the year, you must submit it by the end of tax year and if you fail to do so , all transactions you do in that year will be considered as non filer transactions and you will pay extra taxes.

Rule No 3: Prefer Mid and Long Term Trading

As an Expat it may be hard to visit Pakistan every few months unless you are based in Dubai or may be Middle east. In addition every time when you come to buy or sell property, you incur huge transport expenses. So unless you have a huge number of assets, it is best that you prefer investments which will give you returns in 2 to 5 years at least. One year is the minimum you should look at and that too only if you are getting substantial profits.

Rule No 4: Avoid Investing in Houses

I have generally seen a lot of Expats looking to buy houses in Pakistan either for investment or as a holiday home. I mean seriously no matter how rich you are spending money on unproductive assets is just lame. While the plots appreciate over time in price the Houses depreciate as the construction gets older. Also if you have purchased it as a holiday home you will have to pay a substantial amount every year for its maintenance.

Even if you rent your house out it is not worth it as the returns usually are even less than 3% annually. I always recommend that buy commercial properties for rental purposes or apartments.

It is therefore best that you invest now in following and buy a house only when you move back:

  • Residential or commercial plots for price appreciation.
  • DHA Files
  • Apartments and projects launched by reputable developers such as Goldcrest Mall and Residency DHA Lahore or springs apartments. High end and luxury apartments will add a lot of value in coming years in terms of price and rental and in addition they are excellent and secure holiday homes.

Rule No 5: Bypass Marketing Gimmickeries

Unfortunately Expats are an easy target of high end marketing campaigns and a lot of developers take advantage of their lack of on ground knowledge and information. If you keep yourself limited to recommended areas as suggested above above you do not need to worry much. However if you are willing to take higher risk than make sure that you do not fall in to the hands of those marketing geniuses.

Normally a marketing company will be using a selling concept to achieve its goals in short time. Such a strategy will put developers interest ahead and the only goal is to sell the project and not to focus on the purchaser.

It is therefore best to use third party consultants who can provide you with an in-depth neutral analysis and offer you comparisons of various projects in the market and more services than what you are getting when you purchase directly.



Captain (Retd) Shahnawaz Yaqub Bhatti

CEO Imlaak

Mob : +92 333 1616160 (Whatsapp)

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Great article, very helpful. any reviews on Canadian city gwader for investment?

Samra Hussain

Well, youngsters who are eager to invest in market without having any experience must read this article. Really helpful. Keep sharing!

Last edited 5 months ago by Samra Hussain

I really loved reading the article. Well explained content and great guide for expats. It catered answers to the queries coming to my mind. Please keep writing and guiding us. Thanks.


I have narrowed down my options to two projects but still really confused in terms of which one will be a better investment taking into account rental yield, capital gains and security of my investment. Out of Springs Gulberg and Zameen Aurum which one would you recommend to invest in please. Thank you very much.


We bought plots in Peshawar DHA and it has doubled in value in 3 years. The problem is i could not buy multiple plots because they have a lottery system. Way too many people applied.How do i buy multiple plots in DHA? Dha is the only one i can trust as its owned and managed by Pakistan Army and their transactions are 100% safeand secure plus very very profitable.
I have lost money in other housing projects in pakistan so, DHA is the only one for me. Almost all dha lots are good but is there any particular region you can recommend for profit making?

Mohammad Khan

Hi there. I’m a Pakistani expat from the US and have been researching top housing societies in Islamabad and came across a project called Taj Residencia. The main thing i know about them is that they are being developed by the same group that brought Islamabad Centaurus Mall. Before I make a decision I wanted to ask all of you what you think. Thanks


Hello I am a pakistani expat from Saudi arabia and recently attended a zameen expo where they mentioned something about al hayat apartments on raiwand road. But i dont know much about it what is your opinion on it for a low budget?

Nasir Kanwar

Can you please guide how to deal with marketing people while investing in future apartments (apartment projects which will complete in next 3 , 4 years).
As their purposing prices are very high, how should I bargain with them and make sure that I am not going to pay them more then the actual value of apartment.

Nasir Kanwar

Dear Mr. Shahnawaz,
Thank you for guidance, I will search for property consultant based on my city (Karachi) to ensure that I am going to invest in right property.
Thanks again.

Mohammad Khan

Hi, I’m a Pakistani Expat from New York and am interested in investing in a housing society. A few friends mentioned a place called Taj Residencia but don’t know too much about the project. Can you please share your opinions with me and if its worth the investment. Thanks

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Nadeem Ahmad

Thanks indeed for a concise as well comprehensive overview. Very helpful!


well said about real estate and housing projects maximum chances of fraud in housing societies include 7 marla house plan and many more like that


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thanks for that article keep it up. people should aware about 1 kanal house plan and similar projects like that .


very well explain about real estate thanks for sharing


quality article on real estate keep sharing such posts

Adnan Asim

Its a very Informative Blog post. I”ve to found some informative site to get information about the real estate in pakistan. And your website also have very huge information about the real estate in pakistan. Thank you for sharing.

Adnan Asim

Like!! I blog quite often and I genuinely thank you for your information. The article has truly peaked my interest. Your article has huge information.


Nice article

Muhammad Asif

you nicely discuss about where to invest, DHA, Bahria town Lahore are good to invest and for residential and commercial. We #AliRathoreAssociates also get inquiries from expats, our many clients want to buy houses and buy commercial property in lahore because they want to invest here, and they are satisfied our construction services.
Muhammad Asif

Talha Shafique

you nicely discuss about where to invest, DHA, Bahria town Lahore are good to invest and for residential and commercial. We #AliRathoreAssociates also get inquiries from expats, we also provide top quality construction services, house paint, painting services, home interior design services, interior exterior painting services etc.
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