Better Homes runs false claims on property ads

Potential buyers given descriptions of non-existent shopping malls and metro line
By Anil Bhoyrul
Tue 15 Jan 2013 09:52 AM

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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