Better Homes runs false claims on property ads

Potential buyers given descriptions of non-existent shopping malls and metro line

Top Dubai estate agent Better Homes has been running false information on a number of its property advertisements, an investigation by Arabian Business can reveal.

The advertisements – all appearing on the company’s website – make a number of  claims regarding the Palm Jumeirah development, including non-existent shopping centres,  access to leisure facilities that were never built, and even claims that the Dubai Metro runs through the development.

One advertisement, for the property on the Palm Jumeirah’s Oceana development, claims the property “is also within walking distance of the Village Centre shopping mall via a pleasant and safe underground walkway.”  In fact, the Village Centre project was halted five years ago, and has remained as a large hole in the ground. No underground walkway exists. Nakheel announced late last year that it is looking to restart the project this year.

Another advertisement, also for the Oceana development, claims “residents may also access the Palm Jumeirah’s 60,000 square metre luxury retail complexes via a bright pedestrian underpass.” Again, no such complex or underpass exists.

An advertisement for the Tiara development says the Palm Jumeirah contains “the exclusive Palm Anantara Hotel & Spa”. In fact, the nearest currently open Anantara Hotel & Spa in the region is located roughly 100km away in Abu Dhabi.

A fourth Better Homes advertisement, for a property on the Golden Mile, says “the metro now runs along the Palm making access to the facility easier.” In fact, the Dubai Metro has never been part of the Palm Jumeirah, the closest station being around 3 km away.  The existing Palm Monorail is not accessible from outside the development.

Each of the advertisements contains the names and details of the agent responsible for selling the property.

Last night the company began taking down the advertisements after being contacted by Arabian Business. However, a spokeswoman said the company said it would not be making any official comment.

Founded in 1986, Better Homes is one the largest and most successful estate agents in the region, and has expanded to 25 offices across the Middle East and Asia. The company says its website – on which the advertisements appear – that it receives 1.2 million page views each month and that it has “the UAE’s largest dedicated, opt-in database of real estate customers of over 100,000 up-to-date contacts.”

Last May, the company began publishing ratings online for its agents.

The company said the move gave customers the ability to vet and select an agent to work with, based on their service and performance credentials.

"Our objective is to deliver great customer service every single time," CEO Ryan Mahoney said at the time, adding: "Honest and open customer reviews will enable new customers to find the best agents.”

In 2011, Dubai said that the world's first governance charter for real estate developers - aimed at improving transparency in the sector - would be implemented by January 2013.

The Dubai Land Department (DLD) said it had launched the draft document with the blessing of ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

It said real estate companies will be educated about what the charter means, prior to putting the final touches on the final draft.

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Posted by: Saf

I guess I have had a lucky escape..useless customer service as I was trying to sell my property. They failed to make contact despite my best endeavours but after reading the above, it was a blessing in disguise.

Posted by: Yaser

I am currently having a bad experience with one of the BetterHomes agents. I sold the apartment I was living in which is in the Green Community through her and was looking to rent another place in the same area. I was told that the new owner wanted to live in the apartment and hence I could not rent it back, which I was willing to do and in fact that is what I told the agent from the start. The agent pushed another property on us in order to make her commission, when she knew the new owner was not going to be living in the apartment we are still in. We always specifically stated that we would be glad to rent the place back and work out a an agreement avoid moving, but that did not fit into the agent's agenda. It is one thing to make want to make a commission which is fine, but it is another thing to trick and deceive to get it. I cannot trust this company to sell me a box of crackers any more and will never deal with them again.

Posted by: CLARA

Hi. We just had a horrible experience with this company and two brokers. With a 3 months old baby and after paying for the apartment they wouldn't give us the key or the signed contract by the owner.
We had to be begging them and they treated us like garbage. NEVER AGAIN!!

Posted by: Ben

I personally had a really bad experience dealing with Better Homes. The broker informed us the apartment will be vacant in 2 days and we need to act fast to be able to get the apartment as the landlord has other offers.
After 10 days of wait the broker informed me to call the owner directly as he is not sure yet when the apartment will be vacant. I mean isn't that Better Home (broker) job to make sure apartment is ready to be rented out before listing it. It was very unprofessional of the agent from Better Homes.
I would never recommend anyone to deal with this real estate broker company

Posted by: Adnan

The problem is industry-wide. Not long ago, Better Homes was pointed to as the gold standard, and I'm sure even with these serious claims, they are still probably better than most.
The problem I have here, is that they are probably pricing these non-existent amenities in. So we are paying exorbitant prices for sub-par, partially developed projects, and at a premium to boot.
You have to wonder what role the brokers are playing to drive rents sky-high to maximize commissions. It's painfully obvious that supply and demand has no significant role to play in determining price points. It's one hell of a racket, really.

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