Unofficial property 'middle men' will face prison, warns RERA boss

Dubai real estate agents complain of unlicensed friends and relatives becoming involved in deals
Marwan Bin Ghalaita, RERA CEO.
By Neil Halligan
Wed 24 Sep 2014 10:11 AM

The CEO Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) told real estate agents that anyone without a broker card attempting to take a cut from a property deal faces the prospect of jail under strict regulations already in place.

The stark warning came as real estate agents complained of incidents where relatives and friends of a seller muscle in on a property deal and then seek a commission.

“We’ve encountered situations whereby we’ve got an owner and all of a sudden somebody pops up and he’s the cousin or the brother and wants a fee (commission)," Mario Volpi, managing director of Prestige Real Estate said while moderating a debate on the issues and ethics of the real estate environment at the recent Cityscape Global property exhibition in Dubai.

“You guys should fight it,” RERA CEO Marwan bin Ghalita said.

“You say that, but it’s very difficult,” Volpi replied.

Ghalita urged agents in Dubai have to take a tougher stance.

“The industry has been regulated for seven years, and now it’s the time when everything should be correct. There is no grey area. I think you guys need to play the toughest part about it by driving away all of those intruders who comes as a middle man. If a cousin, or a wife or a husband comes in the middle, I would fight not to give him commission. I would report it to RERA.

“Law number 85 is very clear: anybody without a RERA broker card cannot take a commission or cannot even participate in a deal. And the punishment is going to prison,” he said.

Volpi said there’s a concern that if they refuse, the seller will then go to an agent who will do it, and they lose business.

The RERA CEO said regulation becomes harder if people are not reported for property offences.

“This is what everybody keeps telling me – if we follow RERA’s rules 100 percent we will lose clients, because somebody will deal with the freelancer,” said Ghalita.

“I just keep telling them, report them to me and I will take action. If we agree to take in the freelancers, we will never regulate the market.

“When we started the MLS (Multi Listing System used to advertise property stock or inventory on numerous portals and websites) two years ago, we said we would make all the listings a single agent listing so we will know who is representing the owner or seller.

“The agents themselves came to me and said please don’t implement this year, because they are saying owners keep changing their minds.”

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