Even in NZ, we heard rumours of expats stampeding out of Dubai: abandoning their cars at the airport, trampling over fallen bodies at the check-in. Depending which reports you listen to, Dubai is an apocalyptic landscape of anarchy, looting, rioting and burning, home only to broken dreams.
In fact, the only thing thriving in the city appears to be the expat grapevine, fuelled by a bottomless supply of media suppression and cheap petrol.
I was therefore nervous about the likelihood of re-renting our property. Assuming we could find new tenants – you know, stake out Dubai airport – the timing was critical. Ideally, Husband would prepare the villa, then assess potential viewers for quality tenancy. Or, depending on the state of the warzone, at least ensure they weren’t anarchists, looters, rioters or pyromaniacs.
Two years after leaving Dubai, I still receive more spam from UAE based Real Estate Agents than from Juicygirls. I spent a couple of weeks trying to rate RE Agents according to a/ quantity of spam b/ quality of spam c/ proximity to Satan on the family tree.
Eventually, Husband suggested listing it on Dubizzle, a UAE based classifieds website.
Within a day of listing the ad, I had 15 responses.
Most were Real Estate Agents, but several were from people who had obviously been lured by my tag line: ‘DIRECT FROM OWNER! NO AGENCY FEES!’
Some were undoubtedly attracted by not having to fork out Dhs 20000 (NZ$ 8500) to a RE Agent for downloading a copy of the standard tenancy agreement and rejecting phonecalls while waving a clipboard around. However, most just appeared pathetically grateful to deal with someone who returned their phone calls/emails and – bonus – spoke semi-literate English.
Before Husband left for Dubai, I had whittled the short list down to five applicants. I agonised about how to let four of them down, since they all seemed quite lovely. In the end, the bottleneck sorted itself out.
I called one applicant – UK long distance – at 11am his time one Sunday morning, and he said, ‘Could you call back later? Rough night.’ At least, that’s what I thought he said, because it SOUNDED like ‘Moumph wall grankle arwar whumph’. I think he was belching at the time. Bless him, he actually sent an email later, asking whether the villa was still available. I decided he lacked certain qualities I looked for in a model tenant, and let him down gently.
One couple viewed the place and decided it was too small; another woman’s husband was made redundant and they stayed in their current accommodation; the fourth couple looted and pillaged the villa before trying to set Husband on fire.
In the end, it went to the couple Husband was most taken with – who also happened to be the most proactive, responsive and friendly.
So everyone’s happy.