Can a Dubai homeowner sell without going through a broker?
I want to sell my apartment in Dubai but I feel anxious about using an agent to market the property as I have heard too many horror stories about real estate companies here. Is there a way I can bypass the agent, and the accompanying fees, and sell the property myself? PK, Dubai
The expert advice:
Ben Crompton, managing director of Crompton Partners Estate Agents
It is indeed true that some property companies have garnered for themselves a fearsome reputation. That has been mitigated somewhat in recent years by the proactive approach taken by Rera in weeding out some of the worst offenders, but there are still some cowboys out there.
The short answer is there is nothing, legal or regulatory, preventing you from marketing and selling your property yourself. There are numerous internet portals you could use as well as the printed press to advertise the unit. Once you have an offer you’re happy to accept I would instruct a conveyancing company to guide you through the contract and transfer process. However, you are unlikely to be able to do any of this as effectively or efficiently as a professional real estate broker will, with their access to marketing budgets, social media presence, a steady stream of preapproved clients and the ability to close a deal.
So how do you avoid the shark pool of property agents standing by, ready to mishandle your transaction? How do you find a new dentist? Maid service? Restaurant? You don’t talk to the first person who cold-calls you. You get a recommendation, online or from friends that have sold. Also do a bit of research. Check that they have a decent website. Does the agent you’re dealing with have their own Rera card (some companies have one card that each agent uses)? Do they work in your area? Do they seem genuine, knowledgeable, professional and trustworthy? Do you like them? Most importantly, will they share your listing with other agents and split commission with them? Lots of agents will take a listing and not share it in the hopes of getting the whole commission themselves – you need your unit shared with as many reputable brokers as possible.
If they tick all of the above, tell them they can have the unit exclusively but only if they give you weekly updates on who the unit’s details have been shared with and how many viewings have been done on it. Also tell them that you want all other brokers to go through them, you don’t want to be bothered by every broker under the sun.
You can sell the house yourself, but a good agent will save you hassle and get you a better price in the end.
The reader’s advice:
Sharon Hackett, Dubai
I am in the process of doing this right now. When I first decided to sell my apartment in JLT, I had three different agent valuations – Dh1.7million to Dh1.9m, Dh1.6m and another of Dh1.8m. They were so different I figured I had a better chance of setting the price myself, so I looked at property websites to assess the market and then posted an ad on Dubizzle for Dh1.6m. There is a lot of supply in the market now so the advantage of posting myself is that I am opening myself up to the whole market, something that wouldn’t necessarily happen if I used one agent. Also I am more attractive to the buyer because they can save the 2 or 3 per cent agency fee – that’s quite a chunk. Making the sale yourself is the same process as going through an agency anyway, because the moment the sale is agreed, the agent hands over to a conveyancer, which is what I will be doing. There is a bit of work involved because I have to show all the potential buyers around myself, but I have encountered so many unethical agents over the past week that it’s worth it. However, as well as listing the ad myself, I have also placed it with an agent, so how I sell depends on who gets a buyer first – me or the agent.
The next Money Clinic:
I want to take out a personal loan, however I’m concerned my past will come back to haunt me. I’ve heard there is a new credit bureau that records all your financial data, good and bad, which could affect my ability to borrow. Four years ago I missed some repayments on a previous loan and although the bank and I eventually came to a repayment agreement I’m worried this will affect the approval of a new loan. How can I check this before I apply for a loan? BN, Dubai
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Updated: February 13, 2015 04:00 AM