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On the recommendation of a colleague we contacted a real estate agent and were sent Margaret (not her real name of course!). I had emailed them a pretty comprehensive list of what we were looking for in a home. But I’m pretty sure Madge hadn’t even given it a glance cause she took us to some absolute shockers! I really don’t know what she was thinking. These places were small (or worse, HUGE), run-down, in the middle of nowhere dumps. I mean real sh*t holes! ‘Scuse the French. It got to a point where I refused to even look at the bedrooms because the living areas and compound facilities were so wrong.

So it turns out that Margaret wasn’t so good at her job, which wasn’t a surprise considering that within 5 minutes of being in her car she told us that she’s actually not qualified for the job at all, she just ‘fell into it’. Nice one Mags. One thing she was an expert at was talking. During our look-see I learnt her cat’s name, her father’s age, she has a house in Cyprus, stays fit by doing pilates and she likes to have a greek salad for lunch. Who doesn’t?! She was also rude to the staff in the compounds which I absolutely can not stand.

Needless to say, the whole thing was a huge waste of time and we absolutely did not take on one of Margaret’s recommendations. Although, it wasn’t a total loss because it did show us what we definitely did not want to live in. And it was a great way to see the city! Her company charged 1 week’s rent which I think is absolutely extortionate and ridiculous especially when you consider the ‘work’ that was put into our viewing.

To get into the compound we eventually chose we had to go through another real estate agent. That was just the rule. The company was called Al Asmakh Real Estate and they were absolutely fantastic and didn’t charge us a cent. I highly recommend!

So when it comes to the question of whether to get an agent or go it alone, I would only get an agent to show you  around so you can get a feel for what’s out there and then drop them like a hot potato! Luckily for us Margaret was so crap at her job that she didn’t actually follow up, but most people would have to come up with some sort of excuse as to why they’re no longer interested. And of course there’s the risk that they show you something you love and then you have to find a way of sneaking under their radar to secure the place on your own. Not ideal. So just avoid them like the plague I say.

I’d recommend asking the housing department at your work if they have any recommendations, ask people you meet and then get a driver to take you around. You’ll save yourself the endless nattering.