How I became a real estate agent within a month in Dubai as a software engineer

🌇Challenge: Real Estate Dubai
Lionel Piersover 1 year ago
💸 Initial investment:
$15,000 - $25,000
⏳ Time until profitable:
100 - 150 days
⏱️ Average time investment:
540 - 959 minutes / day
🧰 Prerequisites required:
📍 Location:
Anywhere
🧮 Difficulty:
8 / 10
⚖️ Probability of success:
80%
All above numbers are subjective estimates.
Days passed since started:
587
Current P/L:
-$5,842

My phone rang less than 5 minutes after I had sent the second application on my first day in Dubai. The caller id showed the name of the company I had just applied to.

For the past 15 years, I have worked as a freelance software engineer and occasionally as a consultant. In October 2022, after concluding another client, I took a break. I wanted to pursue some of my own side projects. Two months later, I decided that I wanted to try something new. A fresh beginning, a different challenge.

"You are very lucky", the voice on the other side said. "We usually don't work that late on Fridays, but we just have had a meeting, and I checked my emails a last time after that."

Two days later, I was interviewed at their office. Another few days later, on Friday, I received an email reply: "It was a good conversation and gave us an opportunity to know your skills. Unfortunately, we regret to inform you that we will not be taking forward your candidature for this position."

Fun fact: I have never, ever worked for anyone before. I have been self-employed for as long as I can think, and I have never gone through any interviews.

Who gets a phone call with the invitation to an interview within 5 minutes of sending an email application, on their first day in a foreign country, in an industry they don't know shit about? After what had felt like fate in the first moment, reality caught up with me: This wouldn't be easy. Or would it?

Fast forward, I got hired by the company I had sent my first application to. After only 19 days, 30 applications, and 3 interviews (two of which were different stages at the same company I am now working for), I became a real estate agent in Dubai. Again: I have no knowledge about the industry whatsoever, do not even own a diploma of any kind, and have been in only IT my whole life.

Now, what's in here for you?

First, this story should show you that you can take on any challenge in life, such as a career change. You don't need prior experience, knowledge, or certificates (unless you are going for significant positions in medicine, law, or such, obviously). I hope this serves as a strong inspiration and motivation for you.

Looking for a career change?

If you want to find out which secret techniques I applied to get a job as a real estate agent in Dubai in record time without seemingly checking any requirements, buy the "Get Hired!" guide here.

Looking for a career change?

The second benefit for you is that you may consider doing the same thing: Selling real estate in Dubai.

At the time of writing, the war between Ukraine and Russia is ongoing. There is fear of recession and other economic impacts that may force potential customers across all industries to cut their expenses (e.g., you). Massive layoffs are rattling through large enterprises.

Meanwhile, Dubai is glooming. The wealthy citizens of Russia and Ukraine are fleeing here for obvious reasons - they love Dubai. But many Europeans also increasingly abandon their countries as more strict and abusive tax laws and social deterioration advance. For example, Germans have passed Russians as Dubai's number one property buyers. No wonder, as by now, you read weekly about robberies and exploding ATMs in your local German area.

But, of course, it's not only preserving wealth that draws people to Dubai. First and foremost, people come to create wealth. "Go where the money is", as many successful people will advise you - and the money is in Dubai. There are countless opportunities in the most versatile industries and niches, the entrepreneurial spirit is high, the bureaucracy is at a minimum, and the tax advantage is obvious. Of course, along with all these perks, you will also run into scam artists and other dishonest folks, but I guess you can't have one without the other. Ultimately, Dubai has become one of the largest and most serious business hubs, with a strong emphasis on crypto, real estate, cars, and other luxuries.

In general, real estate in Dubai is projected to grow by up to 43% in 2023. It's one of the last safe havens for your money while stocks, crypto, and even luxury watches are crashing in real-time. Therefore, it's a win-win situation for buyers and sellers of real estate here. Demand and supply are both snowballing, but demand moves notably quicker for now.

As this website focuses a lot on making money, here is another valuable bonus lesson: You know the saying, "in every crisis lies great opportunity"? Although this is only one of many opportunities, it is definitely one of the biggest ones I see. It's big money. Driven by mighty forces like politics, wars, and markets. Suppose you position yourself correctly for the coming years and are determined enough. In that case, this is one of the best chances to preserve your financial livelihood and build it into generational wealth.

And if you have doubts, you may at least subscribe to the newsletter to get new, authentic updates on my real estate journey in Dubai. Just don't get mad if you realize I was right about making big money in one year.

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Conditions of working as a real estate agent in Dubai

Let's take a look at the conditions I have to work under.

Salary

First and foremost, there is no fixed salary. Zero. This is not for you if you have no cash to survive for a few months.

Commission reaches from 50% when you start to 60% after your sales volume hits specific targets (which I still need to find out).

Here the agencies distinguish mainly into three categories: You can either
1. sell on the primary (off-plan)
2. sell on the secondary (on-plan) market
3. or find tenants to rent out your properties

Off-plan properties are properties that are being built (developed). They are usually higher priced and commissioned but (I am assuming) harder to sell. The total commission here varies depending on the investors and developers between 3% and 6% (of which you will share 50% with your employing real estate agency).

On-plan properties are already built and potentially even have had people living in them. This is what you would imagine real estate agents commonly do.

Example: You sell a property for 5,000,000 AED (1 USD is fixed at 3.67 AED). Let's assume the property has 5% on it, which makes a commission of 250k AED. 125k AED (~$34k) of those are yours.

💡

I examined a large online marketplace for properties and found that the real estate agency I now work for had a listed average sales price for properties of 5,350,000 AED ($1,450,000). The median price was sitting at around 2,125,000 AED ($580k). This data is dated from the very beginning of January 2023 and only represents one specific company. It will likely vary for you but should give you a fair idea.

During the three interviews I've had, I got the following estimates: During the first year, a real estate agent will **usually** make about $100k. At the same time, one of the interviewing parties disclosed they had made $900k in their last year as an agent.

Making just $100k per year is a severe pay cut to me. I still decided to go for it because I won't stop at this average number and intend to shoot far beyond. In a job with a fixed salary, I wouldn't be able to do this, but in a commission-based career in this industry and economic outlook, I am willing to take 100% of the accountability for the end result. It's up to me to take action and influence the number to increase. And that one agent had gone to up to $900k tells me that it is a realistic target, even though it had taken him 8 years.

Expenses

Since the job doesn't offer a fixed, stable salary, I need to be able to provide for myself for a limited amount of time. I was told that you usually will have your first sale after about 3-4 months (which aligns with the public data I found).

The bulk of my costs living here came from the rent. I rent the first months on Airbnb, which amounts to about $2,4k / month. Even without Airbnb, it is expensive, though, so my impression.

💡

From examining a popular online real estate platform, I found that the properties of the company I started at were listed for an average duration of 109 days. The median was 88 days. This data is dated from the very beginning of January 2023 and only represents one specific company. It will likely vary for you but should give you a fair idea.

Other than that, life is not particularly more expensive here than elsewhere if you don't make it so intentionally. Food, whether in restaurants or supermarkets, is maybe even cheaper than in major cities in the US or Europe. Public transport will cost you a measly $2 per ride, and you can save if you buy weekly/monthly tickets.

There is also Uber and regular Taxis (both priced very similarly). I paid 160 AED (~$45) for a ~30 minutes ride of ~35km, which seems reasonable. Remember that this can, of course, vary based on demand, time, and traffic.

Coming from Germany, most things (again, except housing) feel slightly cheaper than they are in Germany.

Time investment

It's an average 9am-6pm office job with occasional client contact when a meeting, presentation, or dinner is planned. Saturday is 10am-1pm. 30 off days per year, plus Sundays and public UAE holidays.

But in the interviews, I've been told clearly, that it's more of a 24/7 job. It's all about communication. If a prospect is gonna call you at 3am at night and you hear the call, you take it. Not even because you're obliged but because you want to make the deal and get your commission.

Other conditions

If you still need to become a resident of the UAE, the agency will usually sponsor your work visa. They will also provide training for you. I don't know how much these conditions differ across agencies, but the schooling is free unless you resign within the first 12 months - in which case you have to pay for it 8k AED (~$2,2k).

If you don't have it yet, you must also get a RERA certificate (this is the local real estate agent's permission). I've been told it costs around 2,5k AED, but you may want to confirm somewhere because I found slightly different information on Google. The company also will pay for your health insurance.

Other than that, it's pretty straightforward.

💡

The chart below factors in mostly living expenses, e.g., one-way ticket to Dubai, Airbnb, groceries, and other necessities. I would have spent most parts of this anyway and not specifically for the challenge. Still, in the face of the context, it seems valuable to record my personal, actual living costs here in Dubai.

Nov 2022Nov 2022Dec 2022Dec 2022Dec 2022P/L-$6k-$5k-$4k-$3k-$2k-$1k$0

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