If you’re buying, renting, or selling a property in Dubai, you need to have a good estate agent on your side to help make the process go smoothly. As a growing city, Dubai has no shortage of real estate agents, which can be a little daunting. This handy guide covers all you need to know about finding an agent you can work well with.
Read on for answers to all the key questions, including;
- How do I choose an estate agent, and what questions do I ask to compare estate agents?
- What fees do estate agents charge - and what other costs do you need to consider when buying or renting in Dubai?
You’ll also want to know how you can cut the costs of buying international property - so we’ll also cover a safe, fast and cheap way to make international payments.
TransferWise is a great way to send money abroad and manage your money across different currencies. More on that later. Let’s dive into how to go about finding the best property - and the best estate agents for you in Dubai.
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Now, back to what you came here to read.
Dubai is a bustling economic hub, with a continual flow of people looking to rent or buy property there. As a result, there’s no shortage of estate agents. Finding an agent won’t be a problem, but of course, you only want to deal with the best estate agents out there.
A good place to start is by using an umbrella website such as Property Finder, which pulls listings from a wide range of real estate agents into one place. You can search homes, and find details of different agents to help you find one which will suit you. You’ll start to see that some agents have a certain niche - featuring mainly properties which suit a particular type of buyer, for example, or working predominantly in one price bracket. When you find an agent or two with listings which suit your needs, you can start to do some research to see how you might work together.
Before we go any further, it helps to know about the licensing and registration requirements for real estate agents in Dubai.
In the UK, estate agents can become members of a professional body as a mark of their experience and capability - but there is no formal qualification required to become an agent in the first place. However, this is fairly unusual, with many places, including Dubai, regulating the industry more vigorously through government imposed licensing requirements.
When you’re looking for an estate agent in Dubai, you’ll see the acronym RERA used frequently. This stands for the Real Estate Regulatory Agency and is the government body tasked with ensuring estate agents have the skills and knowledge they need to operate under local law. You’ll need to make sure the estate agent you choose is RERA approved before you start to work with them.²
Time to find yourself a great real estate agent in Dubai? The Government of Dubai has an online listing of approved real estate brokers, which is a good place to start. When you choose an estate agent, double check their details against the government records to ensure they’re properly licensed.³
Here are a few of the larger real estate brands, to start your research:
- Hamptons - a familiar brand in some parts of the UK, Hamptons International in the UAE have a large portfolio for sale and rental, including residential and commercial listings
- Better Homes - this estate agent has been established for over 25 years, and has a 5 star rating from over 900 TrustPilot customer reviews
- Powerhouse - check out a wide range of listings, and use the handy search features on the website to narrow down the options and find the right place for you
- Haus & Haus - founded by experienced British estate agents, Haus & Haus describe themselves as in the know as opposed to know it all. Check out the featured properties for sale and rent¹
To choose the best estate agent for your needs, you’ll first need to narrow down the options and find a few agents to compare. It can help to have in mind the services or points which really matter to you - do you need an agent who speaks great English, for example, or one who will be willing to do out of hours showings to fit around your work commitments? Are you absolutely fixed on one location in Dubai, or have you got your heart set on a certain type of property?
Do a bit of research online to check if the agents you have selected fit your needs. You can also get a feel for the way they work by using online review sites such as Trust Pilot⁴ or Feefo⁵. If the estate agent you’re looking at is listed, you can search the database of customer reviews to see what previous clients have said about their work, including an aggregated star rating.
Don’t forget to also ask the estate agent questions before you agree to work with them. Having someone you trust on your side when buying or selling a property is crucial, so take the opportunity to make sure you can get along.
Whether you’re buying, selling or renting, there will be costs you need to consider. Your estate agent will charge a fee for their services, and there are government imposed fees and taxes, as well as things like utility costs to consider. Get a good idea up-front of the full cost of the transaction you want to make, so there are no nasty surprises down the line.
|Service||Estate agent fee|
|Estate agent commission - property sale||Fees are negotiated, usually around 2% of the sale price achieved⁶|
|Letting agent fee - property rental||Fees agreed in the rental contract - 4%-5% of the annual rent is common⁷|
|Other costs when renting property||Aside from agent fees you may need to cover: Ejari fees to register your rental contract - AED195 Dubai municipality housing fee - 5% of annual rent Utility connection fees, and a deposit based on the property type Security deposit - usually one month rent, paid to the landlord⁸|
|Other costs when buying property||Ask your estate agent for the likely costs, taxes and fees based on the property type you’re buying.|
It is also best to check that local agents are following the local rules and regulations in Dubai. Government licensing via RERA has made a big impact, but there are still people out there trying to operate without the proper approvals. Make sure you check your chosen agent is legitimate, by researching and checking they’re registered on the Dubai government listings of approved brokers.
Choosing an estate agent is an important task. A good agent will help you buy or sell your home for the best possible price. They’ll really understand your needs so they can find the right place, and strike the right deal for you.
You’ll likely need to spend a fair bit of time with your agent on the journey to buy or sell your Dubai property - make sure you ask enough upfront questions to help you choose the right person for your home search.
Here are some good questions to ask a prospective estate agent:
- Are you RERA qualified and regulated?
- What areas of Dubai do you cover? Do you have a core customer - for example, first time buyers, families or expatriate workers?
- Do you open, or offer showings on the weekend or after hours?
- How do you market properties? Do you use social media, client lists, cold calls or an open house approach for example?
- How quickly do you typically sell the homes you list?
- How do you value properties on your books?
RERA was set up in 2007 to protect people buying and selling homes, and since then regulation in the sector has improved significantly.⁹ However, it’s always best to check that an agent is operating with a license, to make sure that a good deal is as good as it seems - here are some sensible precautions.
- Make sure your estate agent is RERA qualified, by checking the list of government approved estate agents, online
- Make sure your agent has a physical address you can visit, and a landline phone number linked to their business
- Look for estate agent reviews, online, or ask for referrals from friends when finding an agent for your own purchase
- Remember, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is
Whether you want to buy, rent or sell in Dubai, you’ll want to find a friendly, experienced and reputable estate agent to help you. There are plenty of choices out there, from global brands you might already recognise, to local companies dealing in niche properties. By choosing a RERA registered and approved estate agent you can be confident that you’re working with a professional who can help make the process go smoothly.
Don’t forget to look at smart ways to limit the price you’ll need to pay, such as using TransferWise to send low cost international payments using the mid-market exchange rate.
Sources checked on 16-May 2019.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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