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Sun 22 Mar 2009 12:54 PM

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Are estate agents the smartest guys in town?

Years of sitting by the phone simply taking sales orders has left Dubai's estate agents with no idea of how to be estate agents, says Anil Bhoyrul.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to estate agents. Either they are incredibly astute, sound, well informed and only interested in getting you the best deal going – or they are third rate shallow imbeciles who will sell their grandmother at the first available opportunity.

Which is it? In my search for a good property bargain over the past three months, I have been inundated with unsolicited calls from estate agents. Presumably word has got out on the street that “Bhoyrul is buying.” (or Bhoyrul is borrowing).  As a result, they regularly pass vital market information on to me in “total confidence.”

Here are just a few recent lines.

“I shouldn’t be telling you this, but my boss's cousin works at HSBC. And they have been told that the market has already bottomed out, and in fact, prices in some parts of Dubai rose 12 percent in the past two weeks. This is triple A confidential. You really need to buy a property before the weekend or you will miss out.”

Really? I suggest the guys at HSBC get on the phone to the White House asap, as President Obama needs to get hold of this info right now.

How about this call I received yesterday. “I have a seller in the UK who wants 300,000 sterling. Now that works out, on today’s exchange rate of 5/1  at  AED1.5m today. However, my uncle works at the Bank of England, and he told me – and please, don’t pass this on or I will get in serious trouble – that next week they are going to put the rate up at 7.5/1, which means the price will go up to AED2.25m. If you can complete the deal this weekend, you are saving yourself over AED700,000.”

Incredible! I had no idea the Bank of England sets the UAE exchange rate – again, I suggest Bank of England governor Mervyn King emails me at anil.bhoyrul@itp.com, urgently, and I can pass on the estate agent’s contacts.

And let’s not forget the magnificent Ryan Mahoney, managing director of Better Homes, who suggested  the market has turned because more people are visiting his website. Personally I think he’s a complete xxxxxx (use your imagination here).

So what is really happening? Could it just be, that after years of  sitting by the phone taking sales orders in between eating Shawarmas, thousands of estate agents in the region have been struck by lightning.

They are having to make a sale, something they have never done before, and have no idea how to do. They will tell you nonsense, rubbish, or downright lies – take your pick. Or am I missing out on the deals of the century?

Ashish 10 years ago

Spot on Anil. It is high time these parasites (also known as agents) were cast by the wayside. Too often they have earned their commission by doing the bare minimum to make a sale. I too found Ryan Mahoney's comments ludicrious and a feeble attempt to shore up investor confidence. This market has FAR from bottomed out. The days over overinflated real estate are OVER - time to return from fantasy land!

phil 10 years ago

Heh heh- very good Anil. You are spot on of course. Agents here have always had it too easy, and the buying frenzy resulted in complacency and downright arrogance. Now the worm has turned, and only the agents who are able to add value will survive. Good riddance to the rest.

Martin 10 years ago

Hilarious.....the lengths some of these guys are going to sell properties. You feel sorry for the more naive out there who are going to get hoodwinked.... Hopefully expats here are more aware of the news and international markets and dont get 'sucker punched' into buying until at least the end of the summer. I guess you mean lightning??

Stephen 10 years ago

Thanks for making my dad... it was not going so well until i read this article... brilliant, just brilliant... he he :) From a serious point of view, this is the first place I have been to where an Estate Agent can charge you commission and he didn't even assist you to find the house... just because he's the agent for the building you must pay his/her full commission... It's daylight robbery.. to say the least... Fair Pay for Fair Work done should be the underlying principle.. they do no work and get lot's of money... well the season has changed and the money tree has wilted, it's leaves have fallen, and spring is still a long way away... In South Africa, before you became an estate agent, you had to write the estate agents board exam.. I wonder is the new Government body RERA has anything of the sort..., or is at least considering bringing something in to regulate this market... it's only in Dubai, where anybody can be an estate agent... I may be wrong on this but i think in the UK you have to be chartered and part of the RICS to be an estate agent......

raj 10 years ago

Look man, there are some dumb agents out there - like in any profession. Hopefully all wont be generalized based on your experience. I agree on ur views on Ryan Mahoney.

JJV 10 years ago

A brilliant article and spot on. Keep up the good work....need more of these.

Applauding Chappy 10 years ago

Finally an article worth reading, estate agents here are the traffic wardens of the UK, hated by all because they just add to your misery, take your money and do nothing for the pleasure, good bye, good bye, good bye. Maybe soon i may get some were worth the money i pay out and start enjoying life here again.......

John Cole 10 years ago

Check your facts.....there are RERA Exams here and in the UK anyone can be an estate agent, its easier than here.....

Sal 10 years ago

While I like the comment on Ryan Mahony, your imagination about agents giving you confidential news is out of proportion. Some of them like it because this is what they want to hear, battered real estate agents (90% of them qualify to do anything!).

Anon 10 years ago

RERA exams are a joke. The questions are waaaaaaaaay too easy. A blind monkey could pass them...especially when all the agents in the room are 'coached/guided/pointed' to the answers to the exam before hand. The exams do make a professional out of an agent in anyway, shape or form.