Meet Sanjana S, a sales manager who's been house-hunting in Discovery Gardens for an agonising three months — at a time when it appears there are plenty of homes to choose from. Here's what she has to say: "I started my house-hunt in June. I looked at a listings portal, and found two agents who coordinated with me for an apartment they claimed would be available by the first week of July. I checked the apartment and filled out a leasing form from the property management company. I later got a mail informing me that a corporate customer had taken over the building.
"I tried another agent on the same portal who told me that there was a ‘ready to move in' apartment. He gave me a receipt with the flat and building number and promised that the contract would be ready within a week. I shopped for furniture and appliances, went to the apartment several times during the week to take measurements, etc — all under the impression that the house would be mine in a week.
"I called the agent several times to ensure that everything was on track. On the day I had scheduled a meeting with the curtain guys, I was told by the security guard that someone else had taken the unit. I was shocked on being told that the apartment, for which a new couch and bedroom set would be delivered the next day, was no longer mine! The agent couldn't salvage the situation. He returned the cheques and the deposit in a few days and said what had transpired was beyond his control. The agents seem to have no idea about what is available. Despite this, they keep adding fresh adverts on the portal, without having anything to offer."
Why it could affect you
You often see a vast number of available units over internet listing portals; however, you find that when you get in touch with the consultant, unit availability turns out to be scarce and it is difficult to arrange a viewing.
When one property is promoted by, say, 20 different real-estate agencies, you will end up with 20 web listings. When this unit is rented out, the agency who clinched the deal will stop promoting it. However, the other 19 agencies, who are unaware of the property being leased out, will continue to promote it. This is constantly happening.
In addition, clients are, in such instances, sent alone to view the property because agents don't want to spend too much time working on a property that can be leased out by their counterparts.
Gassan Ghellal, business development manager, Halcon Real Estate: "Owners feel that the more agents they have working on a property, the faster they will conclude a transaction. On the contrary, when a single agent is assigned to lease a property, he or she is the landlord's sole point of contact and will feel a duty to lease it out soon. However, when agents know they are not the property's sole representative, they will invest less in advertising and promoting the unit.
Exclusive units listed by agencies have more exposure, better photos and a more detailed write-up. The more agencies an owner lists with, the more duplication there will be of the property on real-estate portals. When a tenant arrives to view the property, it's frustrating to discover it has already been rented."
To stop duplication of listings on property portals, owners need to be made aware of the benefits of exclusivity agreements with a real-estate agency. Exclusivity doesn't mean just one agent deals with the property. It is, rather, a method for an owner to have a single point of contact who will promote the property to other agents to seek a suitable buyer or tenant. The owner needn't worry about arranging viewings or chasing the agent for an update. Their chosen agent should take care of all this and prepare agreements to Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) standards.
Meanwhile, apartments are being snapped up in Discovery Gardens, courtesy of some Meraas/Nakheel-driven promotions. "Existing tenants are renewing contracts, holding on to these deals. There has been an increase in enquiries for these apartments from corporate tenants, in particular from the hotel industry," says Veerta Laul, residential leasing consultant at Better Homes.