Dubai estate agents say they are struggling to thrive and survive in a win-or-lose race for a sale


Dubai estate agents opened up to the hectic reality of life in real estate – from marathon working hours and fierce competition for clients to the enormous risks and rewards of a winner-takes-all career.

Netflix show sell sunset and more recently The bustle of Dubaicurrently airing on the BBC, shed light on big names in real estate selling luxury properties to the wealthy.

But for many, it’s a pressure cooker environment in which workers often walk a tightrope between fortune and failure, with a mega sale capable of making or breaking their year.

And for those working in the rental business, the race for commission can be intense, but without the dangling carrot of a multi-million dirham property sale to be achieved.

The National joined real estate in its search for sales this week, as it revealed the trickery and graft that lies beneath the veneer of glitz and glamour.

“High demand, low supply”

Known to be an incredibly demanding industry, there’s no doubt that the rewards of real estate can be enormous if you’re willing to make the necessary personal sacrifices.

That’s the attitude of Matthew Smith – a real estate agent from Powerhouse real estate agents in Dubai who won Dh750,000 in commission last month alone.

“The biggest sacrifice I have to make is sacrificing my time,” said Mr Smith, whose agency website listed several properties valued at more than 50 million dirhams this week.

Agent-to-agent subversive tactics can include calling and impersonating clients to find out what properties are on the market

“I work constantly and on the phone or with clients and it digs into the time I would like to spend with my girlfriend.

“Competition comes from everywhere.

“There are so many buyers on the market right now with so many different agencies and we are dealing with high client demand and low supply of properties right now so when a good property comes on the market it it is imperative to sell it first.”

cutting industry

Elif Dulger, a consultant at Haus and Haus, which specializes in properties in the Arabian Ranches region, said it takes time and effort to be successful, but it also requires fending off competitors.

“It took me about two and a half months to make my first sale,” she said.

“The competition here can be very fierce, but that’s also part of the excitement.

“You can easily lose an ad, but it shows why it’s so important to have great relationships with your customers and a good track record. Most of my business comes from referrals.

Subversive agent-to-agent tactics can include calling and impersonating clients to find out what properties are on the market. They could then get in touch with the owner of the property and try to convince him to also use his services, and also list his property.

As a result, agents often arrange viewings by only telling clients which building or street the property is on, and only after meeting in person directing them to the available property.

This can be problematic for customers who might see the same unit more than once. It also means that buyers interested in a specific community and equipped with a copy of the layout cannot verify if the available property is on a desirable street by simply asking for the unit number over the phone.


Leaving early and giving up weekends to get deals on the line is the bulk of an agent’s job. There is the often misperception that days are spent driving to meet customers for meals at expensive restaurants.

Ms Dulger, who normally sells properties on Arabian ranches, where villas typically cost around 5.5 million dirhams, says to fit everything into her day she needs to set her alarm early.

“I normally get up at 5 a.m. every day,” Ms. Dulger said.

“Especially if I want to train because I won’t do it at another time because the working day is very busy.

“I typically work 7:30 a.m. and average about 12 viewings a week.

“We have to be available to our customers seven days a week and that can be a very unpredictable job.”

Business is booming right now in the sector with more than 6,300 transactions in the emirate’s property market in April, a 43% increase from April 2021.

Along with the increased number of sales, buyers are also putting more money in to secure their new property.

Average villa prices in Dubai have risen by more than 20% over the past year, according to figures from consultancy CBRE.

A 10-bedroom villa was recently sold at Palm Jumeirah in Dubai for what was claimed to be a record 280 million dirhams.

While Ms Dulger admits the market is booming at the moment as it recovers from the pandemic, she insists there is still a need for agents to roll up their sleeves and work hard.

“Real estate is no different from most industries in that it has its glamorous and less glamorous sides,” said Ms. Dulger, who has worked in the sector for more than 20 years.

100% commission

Working commission-free means that every second counts when it comes to selling property in Dubai, which can increase the need for sacrifice to get a sale down the line.

The commission is usually 2% of the final sale price, but this can vary slightly from company to company.

“What most people don’t realize is that behind the glamor of working in real estate is a lot of hard work and very long hours,” Ms. Dulger said.

“Sometimes work hours take me away from my family over weekends and evenings – often with last minute changes in plans.”

Do the groundwork

Another expert believes that newcomers to Dubai should be prepared to give themselves at least a year in the role before earning real money.

“You have to be prepared to spend the first six months learning and making contacts and leads,” said Reshma Khan, sales manager at TS Real Estate, India.

“Then the next six months should be about putting what you’ve learned into practice.

“After that, you will know whether it will work for you or not.”

She trained as a lawyer in her native India before moving to the United Arab Emirates where she worked as a cabin crew before becoming a real estate agent.

Ms Khan said agents in Dubai must be ready to work around the clock to make sales and meet customer expectations.

“It may just be glamorous on the outside, but it really is hard work,” Ms Khan said.

“What you see on TV shows is representative of less than 5% of realtors here.

“The reality is that you have to work very, very hard and be willing to give up your free time and vacations.”

Sometimes the competition doesn’t just come from rival companies, she said.

“Sometimes agents working for your own company can get the listings and sell them through a competitor for higher commissions,” she said.

Within half a decade, she expects to be able to retire after making her fortune in the industry.

“I want to retire somewhere green where I can live on a farm,” Ms Khan said.

Abu Dhabi may be a different market, but a construction boom has led to significant demand for sales and rentals.

“My working day is very long as we are on call for our customers throughout the day, but I try to finish my day around 10 p.m.,” said Faozia Aman, from Yemen, who works as a sales manager. at Metropolitan Capital Real Estate in Abu Dhabi.

“I only work off commission and that pushes me to work harder. Understanding the requirements, then identifying the right property, putting all the pieces together and coordinating with all the different parties comes with its own set of challenges. »

She said the competitive nature of the market means estate agents must remain vigilant at all times to avoid losing sales.

“It’s competitive, like any sales job. Especially with many new companies and agents entering the real estate industry, many different agents working towards the same goal of buying and selling real estate and gaining new business,” she said.

“The sacrifices take the form of time, money and sleep in some cases.

“I may be invited to an event over the weekend which I will have to give up to go to a vernissage. You never want to lose a deal because you didn’t work hard enough!

Updated: 08 June 2022, 05:18

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