In the battle for real estate transparency, there are players for and against

In 2017 people shouldn’t be the pain point of looking to buy property. Estate agents should be there to help: to be useful sources of information, to find you what you want, and to help you figure out what you need.

Historically that has not always been the case here in the UAE, and agents have been derided by both the public and the media. Often with good reason. But the expectations, legal requirements and professionalism in the market has improved dramatically in recent years resulting in today there being some excellent agents and real estate companies here. Thankfully most of the bad ones have been weeded out.

A good agent can make all the difference. Recognising this in October last year we launched our FIND AGENT section, a directory of individual verified agent profiles designed to help consumers find the right individual agent, not just a property. As of today we have 2,043 verified individual agent profiles which can be filtered by nationality, languages spoken, and community and service specialities.  

Great, you say, but how do I know if that agent is good or not?  

Earlier this year, to help answer this question we began requesting and publishing transaction data (property sales) of each individual agent. To date we’ve collected and verified over 6,000 transactions, but we’ve met some reluctance along the way. Not everyone supports this initiative.

 

 

A few have cited the headache of submitting the supporting documents as an issue. Others feel that making this information public would reduce their competitive edge. Some no doubt, prefer to keep their transaction volume, or lack thereof, confidential.

Anything that increases transparency and empowers consumers will always be met with some resistance.  

Ten years ago, when propertyfinder.ae first launched, many agents were reluctant to post photos of their property listings, for fear of that listing being poached.

Others didn’t believe they needed to market online. The newspapers were one inch thick, online got less than 1% of ad spend, and demand for accommodation in Dubai massively exceeded supply.

Today it’s a very different story. The competition for buyers, renters, landlords and vendors has increased. For years now, it’s a basic expectation that property listings have photos, most professionally shot, some with video and virtual tours, plus detailed information about the property. Furthermore, anyone advertising a property in Dubai today must also submit supporting documents to verify they have the owner’s authority to market the property. While we’ve been encouraging agents to do exactly that since 2014 with our free Verified Listing service, with the recent launch of Trakheesi, it is now an enforced legal requirement.  

Standards, regulations and consumer expectations have changed. And they will continue to evolve.

In mature markets, transaction data is readily available and the best agents are happy to advertise their successes knowing it’s the best way to secure sellers and buyers. Few sales take place where the buyer or seller isn’t aware of all recent transactions of nearby properties as well as the transaction track record of the agent.

Dubai is the most transparent real estate market in the region and will continue to adopt global best practices. Agents that are at the forefront of this transparency evolution have chosen to be part of the solution. This is critical as more and more people in the UAE are relying on the web for their property search.

 

Lukman Hajje, CCO Propertyfinder Group

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