Lina Mahoney talks about empowering women in brokerage Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai just got its first community brokerage that has working moms as experts of the neighbourhoods they serve. Named after the formidable founder of Betterhomes, Linda Mahoney, Linda’s Real Estate is built around the needs of working moms (and dads), giving them a platform to excel in the property market.

Linda Mahoney, who started her real estate business in 1986 as a single mom, believes no one knows communities better than women. “We shop where you shop, we do the same school run as you do, we play golf at the same course as you do.... and we are perfectly placed to advise you on your property move because we have done it too,” says Linda. The idea behind Linda’s is to give working mums the environment, support and flexibility to succeed in real estate.

In the mid-eighties, with two young kids, Linda decided to stop working as a nurse in Dubai and embark on a new career in realty. Starting out from a desk in her living room in Jumeirah, she founded Betterhomes.

The first Betterhomes office in Jumeira Image Credit: Supplied

Finding her way around

Talking of her early days of living in Jumeirah, Linda says, “It was more about finding my way around, learning the roads, finding schools, and renting a place to live in. Jumeriah was the popular spot for many expats and so much of the area was unpaved. It was not unusual for compounds to have only partially paved roads up to the house, and all new houses were without trees or garden. Sand was accepted and garden companies were beginning to flourish.”

In those days, she remembers, the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club was a popular spot for most Jumeirah residents. “We depended on camping, or Wadi bashing on the weekend. Then there was a split shift so we worked mornings until 1 pm, went home, and returned at 4pm until 7pm, six days a week for most. For those living in Sharjah, the Dubai Sharjah road was a traffic jam every afternoon as people traveled home for lunch. The Abra was the best way to get across the creek and avoid traffic on the old Maktoum bridge.”

Starting out as the “villa lady”, Linda soon realised that for most expats, everything revolved around Jumeriah and the American School of Dubai as most clients were Americans or western expats. “Diera did not come into the picture for my clients. Most of the time the brief was to find a villa for rent as close as possible to the school, and the request was not to be past Safa Park. There was no real ‘Umm Saqueem’, and of course Barsha was not yet a place. The main thing further than Safa Part was Chicago Beach Village (now Madinat Jumeriah),” she says.

As a young working mother, Linda realised early on that supplementing a family income is quite empowering in itself. “When mothers have been out of the workplace for years raising a family (a full time job in itself), getting back into the workplace can be daunting. Providing an opportunity to do this with flexible hours sounds like a win-win for all, if a company is able to support the schedule,” she says, talking about the flexibility Linda’s would offer to working moms.

Linda with her team during the early days in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied

Women as property advisors

So, do women advise better on a property move? “Advising on a property move takes a number of skills and is not subject to gender. However as homemakers, women do have a good grasp of certain aspects of the brief.”

Talking about what kind of properties are usually in demand in Jumeirah, Linda says, “In the early days it was compounds with common pools. The primary problem with the Jumeriah area was the lack of product. Stand-alone villas and town houses were available, but there were no apartments.”

Life in real estate is busy, hence “priorities were key,” Linda says. “Meeting for coffee, having lunches, frequent staycations, evening events, dinners in restaurants all cost money and they took precious time away from the goal. I, therefore, eliminated most of these things that left me time for work and the kids. An expression I hear today, FOMA, fear of missing out, was simply not a problem for me. Children expect undivided attention, and so do clients!”

Linda believes that working parents, especially working mums, have so much talent and experience to offer. Linda’s will look into that talent pool and harness the experience to offer community members a better insight into finding a home.