Estate agents in Dubai are hiring again in a sign the market may be regaining a form of normality.
Better Homes, one of the largest agencies in the emirate, expects to add 20 sales consultants before the year ends.
The company will close out the year with more than 400 employees, compared with 350 at the end of last year, said Partho Bhattacharya, the director of human resources and operations.
"There is more demand due to an increase in expatriates migrating to the UAE from GCC countries in view of the political instability," Mr Bhattacharya said.
Estate agents in Dubai cut staff and closed offices after the property downturn, in which prices fell by more than half in some areas since 2008.
Prices are expected to continue to decline in many areas, with 27,000 homes scheduled for completion in Dubai in the year, according to Jones Lang LaSalle data.
Arqaam Capital yesterday predicted values and rents would drop an additional 15 to 20 per cent in the next year.
But estate agents are reporting increased activity in many areas, especially in the more expensive villa market.
PowerHouse Properties, which does the majority of its business in villas, reported sales of Dh75 million (US$20.4m) in August, the highest volume of sales in a single month in the company's five-year history, according to Myles Bush, the managing director.
PowerHouse plans to add 10 sales brokers to its existing team of 20 by the end of February, Mr Bush said. He is specifically looking for speakers of Chinese and Farsi.
"We are now spending more money on advertising," added Mr Bush. "We're getting more and more inquiries in the front door and we need to service those inquiries."
Smith & Ken, another Dubai agency, is running advertisements in the UK to recruit sales agents.
"We are looking for people with no preconceptions of how Dubai used to be," said Ben Smith, the company's chief executive. "I can teach them how to sell."
Mr Smith expects to add 15 to 20 salespeople in the next few months to his existing staff of 85. The additional numbers are needed to handle the increasing volume of inquiries, Mr Smith said. "We're still growing. We need more agents."
Advertisements for estate-agent jobs are common, but they do not always reflect the state of the business, said Ben Waddilove, a director of Macdonald and Company, which recruits for property jobs.
Agents are often paid on a commission-only basis, usually half of the agent fees, or they are paid a combination of a small salary and a commission.
"They're always looking for people because the turnover is high," said Mr Waddilove, who primarily deals with developers and property companies.
While estate agents were expanding, the overall property employment market was still depressed, Mr Waddilove said. But some areas were growing. "The residential letting market is buoyant," he said. "We're seeing movement in property management and asset management."
At least one Dubai property consultancy is growing. Knight Frank, a UK firm with offices around the globe, opened its first office in Dubai in March. The company's UAE staff has expanded from three to 13 since an office opened in Abu Dhabi 18 months ago, said Joseph Morris, the associate director of Knight Frank.
The company expects to add more experts in valuations and corporate leasing by the end of the year.
"There are challenges in the market, but there are opportunities for growth," Mr Morris said.
Get behind the property news with Kevin Brass and his Crane Country blog. www.blogs.thenational.ae