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Luxury comes at a price for Dubai’s real estate brokers

Dubai real estate value Haus and Haus
Villa living: A UBS report claims Dubai real estate is 'fairly valued', but prices are rising much faster than earnings
  • BBC’s Dubai Hustle documents the highs and lows of selling property
  • Only one in 100 brokers actually earns the big commissions
  • Emirate recorded 88 home sales above $10 million in Q1

The cameras have all but stopped rolling on the third series of Dubai Hustle, a BBC docudrama that tracks the lives of real estate brokers in one of the world’s ritziest cities.

Glamour junkies await their fix of tears and laughter, clothes and interiors – and firings and hirings – which feature in the lives of the mainly young cast.

The first two series followed the rollercoaster careers of agents from high-end real estate agency Haus and Haus who have become the faces behind the emirate’s billion-dollar real estate market.

Luke Remington, managing director, says that Haus and Haus saw a 1,000 percent increase in hits on the company’s careers page after the first episode aired. Dubai Hustle has featured brokers who have made $350,000 in commission from a single sale. 

But the failure rate among brokers is as high as 70 percent and only one in 100 earn big commissions, Remington said.

“If you were between 17 and 22, you were in the UK and you’ve maybe come out of the pandemic wondering what on earth you are doing, jobs are difficult and there’s all this horrible news out there. Then you watch this programme and think, why don’t I give it a go?,” said Remington.

“Yes you can earn great money but you have to understand that one month you can earn lots and the next month you can earn nothing and maybe nothing again the next month.” 

The Covid pandemic caused mass redundancies in the Middle East and hit airlines particularly hard. As a result a huge number of pilots tried their hand at the real estate business. Many have now quit and returned to the air.

Remington said: “Some of them were making more money in real estate than they were as a pilot, but they decided to go back to flying. Is it less stressful to fly 400 people in the air for eight hours, or is it more stressful to close a real estate deal in Dubai?”

Dubai Hustle is the latest in a string of reality television programmes showcasing the glitz and glamour of Dubai. It joins the likes of Real Housewives of Dubai and Dubai Bling. Subtle these shows are not, but they help the emirate in a core mission to sell luxury properties.

Dubai HustleHaus and Haus
Most sales were in Emirates Hills and Jumeirah Bay Island, where average transacted prices so far this year have reached AED8,800 ($2,400) per sq ft

Dubai recorded 88 home sales above $10 million during the first quarter of the year, according to estate agency Knight Frank.

Most of these sales were in the city’s prime residential neighbourhoods of the Palm Jumeirah, Emirates Hills and Jumeirah Bay Island, the haunts of the semi-fictionalised characters in the reality TV shows.

Average transacted prices in these sought-after locations reached AED8,800 ($2,400) per square foot during the first quarter.

The growth in residential real estate prices in Dubai prime property was among the highest in the world in 2022, according to a report from Savills.

Faisal Durrani, head of Middle East research at Knight Frank, said: “With a shortage of prime developments under construction and no slowdown in the relentless demand of ultra high net worth individuals for luxury second homes in Dubai, the upward trajectory for prime prices is likely to be sustained.”

Ahmed Abou Al Naga, head of institutional sales at Metropolitan Group, added: “Everyone is focusing on the luxury segment because when it comes to this market it doesn’t have a resale price. Basically the seller will name his or her price and they will make a $10 million premium on one property.”

Russian buyers have further boosted demand. The number buying property in the emirate rose 164 percent in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021, according to real estate agency Betterhomes.

Dubai HustleHaus and Haus
Reality TV programmes showcasing the glitz and glamour of Dubai help the emirate in a core mission to sell luxury properties

“We’re seeing a lot more Russians than we did but that could be the same for any other nationality,” Remington said.

“Whether there’s a conflict going on in the country, you’ve got a lot of people moving from other countries because of tax reasons, for safety reasons, or for employment.”

Chris Boswell started his career in the emirate in 2006. Nine years later, he closed a then-record AED185 million ($50 million) sale of a private house on Frond D of Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. That record remained unbroken for seven years until the Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani bought an $80 million beachfront estate in 2022.

“If I get the deal closed it’s euphoric. That’s the addiction, that closing of the deal,” Boswell said. He has since gone on to sell similarly big ticket properties in London, Los Angeles, Paris and Marbella.

To market a particular property Boswell may employ dedicated videographers and deploy high-end cars in sales videos.

“That whole creative process behind the marketing and branding, to be able to try and hook a billionaire, also brings the satisfaction,” he said.

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