Posted inOpinion

Looking for the right real estate broker? Here’s a handy guide for buyers and sellers

It is essential to choose the correct real estate broker to secure the most favourable deal. Therefore, Amira Sajwani, managing director at DAMAC Properties, provides valuable insights on which questions to ask to determine if a broker is a suitable match for your needs

A guide to finding the right real estate broker

Did you know there is no legal requirement to hire a real estate agent or broker when buying or selling property in the UAE? Nothing is stopping you from handling this process on your own, should you wish to do so. However, unless you have sector-specific expertise, I would not advise going it alone.

Property transactions can be extremely complex, which is why the vast majority of people recognise the value of working with qualified and experienced industry professionals. From identifying homes that meet buyers’ needs to ensuring sellers achieve the best price for their assets, it’s hard to overstate the benefits offered by reputable real estate brokers.

As you might imagine, the widespread preference to enlist professionals is by no means limited to the UAE’s property market. According to the National Association of Realtors’ 2024 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report, 89% of all US buyers purchase their homes through a broker.

The question is, with approximately 13,000 real estate brokers registered in Dubai alone, how can you maximise your chances of picking the right one?

Understand your aims

Before you appoint a broker, ensure you have a clear understanding of your own goals and needs. If you are buying, what type of property are you looking for and what is your maximum budget? If you are selling, how quickly do you need to offload your property and what price are you looking to achieve?

Make detailed notes so that you are clear on what you need before you approach a third party. Factors to consider include your preferred location, whether you are looking for a villa, an apartment or a townhouse, and affordability versus luxury. Your objectives will also differ depending on whether you want a home for yourself or an income-generating asset to add to your investment portfolio.

It may sound obvious, but answering these questions at the outset will make it far easier to find the best possible fit for your circumstances.

Reputation, reputation, reputation

Dubai’s most successful property outfits typically spend years honing their credentials as agents before establishing brokerages. They should be able to talk expertly and at length about market trends in addition to the best investment opportunities available at any given time. But assuming you have found someone who talks a good game, how do you know they are the real deal? The answer comes down to reputation.

Reputation is everything in the real estate industry, and any broker worth their salt will have client testimonials readily available to help inform your decision. You should also conduct independent research. When poring over publicly available reviews, it can be tempting to focus on people’s negative experiences, and doing so can be a useful exercise. However, you should also take time to read through positive reviews posted by customers whose situations are similar to yours.

What’s more, there’s no need to limit yourself to the internet. Talk to friends and family about their recent experiences with property brokers, as they may be able to point you in the right direction or warn you about firms to avoid. A proven track record of successful deals in your target segment is a solid indication that you’re looking in the right place. A reputable broker will be happy to provide this information and answer any queries before you commit to working with them, so do your research, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to scrutinise their responses.

Trust your gut when searching for a broker

When it comes to finding the right fit, first impressions count. The chances are you will have regular contact with your broker throughout the course of your property transaction, so it’s crucial to find a company that is knowledgeable about the sector and compatible with your way of working.

It’s vital to feel comfortable with your broker and be confident in their ability to tailor their service to your requirements. I know from experience that no two clients are the same, which is why adopting a bespoke approach is central to building lasting relationships.

The best real estate brokers will go above and beyond to meet your specific needs, not through altruism but because doing so drives repeat business and positive word of mouth for their organisation. If you get the impression you are just another client or investor on a list, you probably are. In these circumstances, my advice is to go with your gut and partner with a company that prides itself on delivering excellent service and achieving maximum returns on your investment.

In short, unless you happen to be an experienced real estate agent, I would always recommend enlisting the services of industry professionals when buying or selling property–whether in the UAE or elsewhere. Provided you take time to clearly articulate your goals, research the performance of prospective brokers and select a partner that is willing to personalise its approach to meet your individual requirements, the chances are you’ll make the right choice. And remember, with so many real estate brokers active in the market, you can afford to be picky.