Diaries Magazine

Hotcakes Houses. Part Three.

Posted on the 22 July 2013 by Mavie
The rear of the jaguar sported a large dent. It was an old model, but something about the car told me the driver was ambitious. A go-getter that wanted to achieve results and reap financial rewards.The driver skidded to a halt in front of a single storey villa. I stepped out and listened to the specifics as Raju recited from memory. The property was 15,000 dirhams over my budget – but I was willing to take a look as I had little choice left.

Hotcakes Houses. Part Three.

Single Story Villa

“Madam, you have unique taste, no?” Raju’s pleasant tone was a stark contrast to his words. Was that his way of saying I was a fussy client? I quirked my eyebrow and he backtracked smoothly.“No…I mean… you like this property? It is good for you, will meet your requirement. Come…” Spinning around, Raju all but sprinted inside.Once my eyes had adjusted to the dark interior, I allowed myself a small smile. The house was spotless. We were standing in the open lounge that allowed a clear view of the tiny concrete garden towards the back. The kitchen was modern, with black worktops and dark cabinets. Images of signing the contract floated into my mind and I wandered towards the bedrooms to pick out my future oasis, which would be strictly off-limits to the kids.The bedrooms were situated on the left, and as I peeked into each one, the mental contract I was signing burst into flames. “How long as this been on the market?” Raju couldn’t be sure, but he guessed a couple of weeks. I nodded in understanding. No decent villa lasted longer than a day on the open market. And this property was no exception; although first impressions were deceiving, once a prospective tenant passed the large living space, they were confronted by three box rooms that made it impossible to distinguish which was the master bedroom. The rooms were tiny. I couldn’t see my stuff fit into any of the neat pint-sized spaces before me. The London-sized box rooms left no room for anything except a bed. If I was paying double the rental rates in London, then surely I should get double the room size?I peeked into the stylish marble bathrooms. They were averaged-sized with a modern white suite and beautifully grouted tiles. Was I willing to let room size come in between me and my future home? The sudden roar of a jumbo cemented the answer. I stood still as the windows rattled under the large aircraft that came to land above us. We were directly under the flight path.“Do you have anything similar which is not under the flight path?” I shouted as the last vibrations melted away.Raju tapped a finger to his temple and grinned. “It is not vacant, but next week okay?”I shrugged. Why not? What other choice did I have?Raju’s next house was near the Mirdif City Centre Shopping Mall. It was a large semi-detached only 10,000 dirhams above my revised budget. Raju asked me to wait in the car whilst he hurried off to speak to a small Indian man lounging on the grass outside. Within seconds, I was ushered into the villa with strict instructions to remain quiet. The current tenants were asleep upstairs and for that reason I wouldn’t be able to view the master suite. Within thirty seconds, I had seen enough to know this was ‘The One’. The front door opened onto a large lounge with smooth marble floor tiles. My eyes followed the tiles to the kitchen that was straight ahead. Inside the square room were dark wooden cabinets and a marble countertop that matched the floor tiles. Out through the window, the blue expanse of the shared infinity-pool twinkled invitingly.Raju indicated the maid’s room was just off the kitchen, and held the door open while I peered in at the high quality fixtures of the bathroom. The finishing of the lower level hinted that the rest of the house would also be to my liking and I took the stairs two at a time to the first-floor landing where the door to the master room was firmly shut. I tiptoed into the two other rooms with renewed excitement. Both were a little on the small side, but at least there was enough walking space around the bed and fitted cupboards to store most of our stuff. Raju hopped from one foot to the other and I knew it was time to go. Back on the street, I glanced back at the three-bedroom villa that met all my requirements and knew it was time to call the Financial Controller. My husband. Promising Raju a final answer by the evening, I headed back to the hotel in a much better mood, when I spotted a To Let sign glaring out at me. Wondering if it was a spiritual sign, I decided to follow it in case something better was on the market.The signs led me to a compound that housed a handful of tall whitewashed townhouses. My limited experience told me the property was out of my price bracket, but something told me to go inside anyway, just to see what houses on the other end of the spectrum looked like. Apparently houses on the other end were narrow and awkward. The layout of this particular property was a jumble of hallways and stairs. I peered up the narrow steps and decided this definitely wasn’t ‘The One’.“Ah, Mrs Mavie!” boomed a thick voice from behind me.Startled, I whipped around and came faced a familiar figure whose name escaped me.There was a flutter of movement and three other men traipsed in from the kitchen. For an instant, fear shot down my spine, until I realised they were all agents I had met since my search for a villa began.Each agent beamed at me.“Who are you here with?” the first man asked peering around me.“Ah, no one…” I faltered wondering if I should have lied. I edged towards the front door eager to escape.“You increase budget? This is for 170,000. You like? This six big bedrooms.” The man clasped his hands, smiling encouragingly.“Oh, no…” I forced a laugh. “I just saw the sign and thought I’d come and see inside.”“You find anything else?” The tallest agent stepped forward. I remembered his name clearly – Vijay.“Um…not yet.” By now I had stepped through the front door and could see the compound gates straight ahead.“I show you nice villa?” Vijay was less than a meter away now.“No, no thank you. I need to go, my husband is in the car…” I strode purposefully towards the car and locked myself in.What were four agents doing in an empty villa? I had spoken to them all during the last couple of weeks but had no idea they all knew each other. Suddenly, I felt very stupid. Of course they would all know each other, they worked in teams! The men at the villa were all Indian, whereas Raju was Pakistani. That would explain his stealth approach to whipping me out from under Javed’s radar. It would also explain how Raju knew my requirements without me telling him beforehand. Did the agents discuss new clients? Whatever their methods, I was glad Raju had the initiative to poach me. He didn’t get that Jaguar by sitting around waiting for clients to come to him. Raju had showed me the best villa in the least amount of time. And within a week of giving him the go-ahead, I held the keys to my new house.In the weeks it took to locate permanent accommodation, I had scaled a steep learning curve. No amount of research could have helped dwindle down the number of properties I had seen. Even though the agents knew my requirements, they made a point of showing me the worst houses first. It’s called property turnover, where they try and get rid of the undesirable properties to the most clueless of tenants. If you find yourself in the rental market, be wary of getting side-tracked. Stick to your requirements, but be willing to make small compromises if the price is right. In some cases, like mine, none of the properties will cater to your tastes – and that would be the time to up your budget. The most valuable element to any house-hunt is to make sure you have plenty of time before you need to move. Hotcakes Houses. Part Three.
Do you have any other house-hunting tips? Help out others by leaving them in the comments section below.Hotcakes Houses. Part Three.

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