In the UAE, there isn’t anything legal or regulatory prohibiting the marketing and selling of property directly from the owner (The National News). Coupled with property developers presenting seemingly more attractive offers, more and more buyers are beginning to wonder what’s the use of a traditional agency. So let’s weigh up the options; should you go at it alone, secure a deal straight from the developer, or partner with a real estate agent?
Saving 4-5% commission on a sales agent seems like a no-brainer for some, but remember that agents are not only sweet-talking salespeople but are riped with technical and regulatory knowledge. They work full time to meet the aggressive timelines and plethora of legal and government restraints. If you’ve never been down this road before, do not underestimate the amount of time it will take to conduct background checks, title deed inspections, mortgage applications, government payments, not to mention if this is your first time you will need to research and learn all of this. Do keep in mind that you will need to devote time to manage the many stakeholders; the seller, the seller's agent, the lender, escrow, title company, home inspectors, insurance agents?
Going this route typically means the buyers are also forgoing this expertise. That could lead to you wasting time on a property for which you aren’t qualified, the marketing of this property will be significantly lower, staging housing, conducting timely open houses and private tours is all time-consuming. All in all, this lack of knowledge leaves you exposed to negligence and potential fraud.
If these alternatives will save you money is up for debate. For Sale By Owner (FSOB) properties incur many of the costs that a real estate agent would take care of. For example, a seller would pay a multiple listing service (MLS) to have properties promoted, a photographer might get involved too, inspection fees, attorney fees, and government fees do still apply. Don’ t underestimate the costs going on behind the scenes because, in the end, most aren’t getting the savings they had hoped for.
When it comes to the deals developers offer, take into consideration the drawbacks off-plan units have, there is no guarantee that value will appreciate after completion, some developers even go as far as to inflate their prices, instead of commission a transfer fee might apply. Thoroughly consider the whole timeline of the purchase, the offers you are initially presented with often don’t paint the full picture.
There is also the cultural fit. Alone you might be able to gauge the character of the neighborhood and research nearby facilities however there are many factors a novice homeowner would simply overlook. This includes neighborhood walkability, highly praised primary care/ schooling, commitment to well-maintained public space. An untrained eye might miss red flags such as vacant land, road expansion, corporate neighbors that could indicate higher levels of noise. Agents are not only members of these communities who have a feel for the area who have a feel but are also aware of expansions and future plans for the neighborhood which can give you a well-rounded outlook.
Working in real estate means working with people of different ages, backgrounds at different stages of life with different needs. This knowledge of people and homes gives agents an insight and curation that just might surprise you. If you're looking for a polished downtown residence, an architectural highrise, a balcony from which to have your morning espresso, you just might be taken aback by the homely charm of a complex with a community garden and a worn-in jogging track featuring red-faced short-breathed greetings.
As the adage goes, what you think you want isn’t always what you want. A trusted agent just might surprise you. This ‘cultural fit’ is also missing when going with a developer, the matchmaking process isn’t factored in as competing developers' properties won't be shown essentially shutting you from 80% of the market. You also won’t have access to off-market listings. For the majority, the purchase of a home is the largest one they will make, don’t take shortcuts. An agent will take care of all the aspects of the deal and close faster and smoother. And should be viewed as a trusted partner in the process.