Joys of house hunting

With the arrival of Scanley drawing ever closer, we’re looking for somewhere a bit bigger to live. We’d rent our apartment out and rent a villa.

I’ve always wanted a ‘classic’ expat villa in the Jumeirah/Umm Suqeim area of Dubai. It’s pretty quiet and peaceful, though the variety of villas available is quite bewildering.

Everything is not quite right – nice garden, rooms too small. Or big rooms and no garden. Or expensive as it has a shared pool, but the shared pool is a rusty pond. And so on.

Prices also seem to be going up again. 220,000Dhs (GBP3,160) per month for a good three bedroomed ‘decent’ villa? That’s too much. 220,000Dhs seems to be the higher end, 160,000Dhs will get you one of the odd, not quite right places.

Probably the most frustrating thing is the agents you have to go through to rent the villas. Landlords seem to favour going with the people who charge the smallest amount of commission, which leads to multiple small time operations all offering the same properties in the same utterly incompetent way. There aren’t any organisations that have a good overview of the whole area and can advise properly, presumably because such an organisation would charge too much, even if they were able to fill empty units up more quickly.

Photos like this one are sadly all too common. Was this taken in 1978? Or yesterday using Instagram? Who knows.

Other things that are currently endearing me to the various agents we’ve called up, or to the landlords whose properties we’ve visited…

Listing villas on Dubizzle that don’t exist or have been rented out. I appreciate that it might be a pain to keep an accurate list up on a classifieds site, so why not have a place holder ad that summarises what you generally have and ask people to call to find out more?

When your villa is empty, just leave it there with no AC on, allowing it to fill up with dust and ants as the humidity warps everything and the garden dies. It’s really hard to choose if you like a place when it’s 45C and a rubbish tip inside. Why not keep it looking ok?

If you’re an agent, answer your phone with a grunt. It sounds really professional.

If you’re an agent and you see a missed call, ring the number back, shout ‘who are you’ at whoever answers. When that person explains that they’re interested in one of the villas you have listed, tell them you are sleeping and hang up. (This has happened twice!)

If you’re an agent, shout ‘hellohellohellohellohello’ every time there is a pause during a phone conversation.

If you’re an agent, don’t bother to know any of the basics that would help a prospective customer make a decision. Monthly estimate for power and water? Why should you know that? Estimate of the municipality tax? Why would that be relevant to someone’s housing budget?

On a positive note, it’s hilarious that most empty villas are simply left open. You see the ‘to let’ sign outside, walk up, open the front door and have a snoop around. I always feel extremely guilty doing this, but I’m getting used to it.

We want a three bed + maid’s room, single storey, detached, modest place with a bit of garden. Covered parking would be nice. Community pool would be even better, but probably not possible. It must be out there somewhere! Hellohellohello?

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