Real estate lawyer Abdul Aziz al Balushi advises Y readers on how they can take steps to protect themselves from crooks in the real estate industry.
1) Use renowned estate agents or reputable real estate firms – and beware of fake certifications and licences.
2) Ensure estate agents are a part of a registered company with a CR (Commercial Registration) Number and check whether it’s legitimate, with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
3) Don’t be afraid to call up the Ministry of Housing to check whether your agent really has their licences.
4) Avoid agents that prefer keeping their business over emails and telephone calls as opposed to face-to-face.
5) Do not drop off important documents at public spots. We’ve receiving numerous complaints stating that agents are operating out of coffee outlets and not offices.
6) Take your time on a property. Nine times out of 10, when an estate agent tells you that there are other offers on the table, they’re lying to get you to make a move on with signing the papers for the property.
7) If your agent abuses you verbally, call the ROP. There’s no shame in reporting wrongdoers to the police. In fact, that could also stop their illicit activities.
8) Only make electronic or post-dated cheque payments to estate agents and make sure that your landlord is aware of this. This way, you can trace or cancel your payments should you smell a rat.
9) Keep copies of all correspondence with a paper trail – the more evidence you have on you, the better.