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A week in the life of an international estate agent

publication date: May 11, 2006
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wyattJames Wyatt is a Partner in Barton Wyatt in Virginia Water, home of Wentworth Golf Club. Barton Wyatt’s International Department specialises in selling new homes on golf course resorts, and the business often mean a busy overseas schedule…

Most of you don’t know me from Adam, so I’ll put you in the picture very briefly. I started out as an Estate Agent in 1984 working for Mann & Co. in Walton-on-Thames before a short foray into London with Chestertons (to see how the posh lot sold houses). Joining the family firm in 1987, I thought I would sell houses until the cows came home and ate the grass off my grave. How wrong I was – my brother joined the firm and left no space for me as he was a much better salesman. So I became a lettings ‘lady’ and expanded that side of the business. Always wanting a challenge, I restarted the overseas department we had before the UK property crash of 1990.


I’m on a Gulf Air plane that I boarded yesterday evening, heading for Muscat in Oman. My eyeballs have trouble focusing at 2.30 GMT when breakfast is served. It is 5.30am Oman time, and we land 90 minutes later. It is exactly 100 degrees already. A blast of hot air as we get off the plane is rather nice – a real reminder that I am somewhere totally different to the rain and coolish weather I left in London.

I’m picked up by my host for the day and she takes me back to their sumptuous house nearby. They are one of our clients and have impeccable royal connections in Oman. Breakfast is served by a servant and I keep quiet about this being the second breakie of the day….well, there was four hours in between the two!

I am in Oman for the day to get a brief overview of the increasingly busy International sales market which is hotting up and likely to boom any minute. Some would say it already is. A business meeting with local experts is followed by several hours touring the amazingly beautiful craggy coastline to see future developments sites in and around Muscat. Then it’s back to the airport for the quick hop to Dubai where I find my luggage has been lost……


Having driven an hour across the desert to the Sultanate of Ras Al Khaimah last night, I then had to go shopping for a change of clothes for tomorrow and toiletries. I now realise that I should have tried the shirt on. It doesn’t fit and I resemble the Michelin man. Good news is that my bag has been found. First I have a meeting at Al Hamra Village which we are marketing. It is impressive and several showhouses are already completed on the 600 acre resort. The 18 hole golf course is taking shape and the first green shoots of grass are appearing – and this is the desert! After looking over the properties we stop off at the development’s 5* hotel for a drink and giggle at the strangely coloured holiday makers sitting in 110 degree of sun.

Back across the desert and pick up luggage from the airport before dashing to the other site of Dubai for a meeting with Nakheel – you might not know the name but you’ve probably seen The Palm development which they are building.

The site visit was an interesting experience in how to remain looking interested when looking at several miles of sand and nothing else. A painful two hour car trip back to the airport (the traffic in Dubai is dreadful) and a flight on to Bahrain.


I’m staying with friends here and having not seen them for a year, we have a lot of catching up to do. Inevitably, property comes into the conversation. Bahrain, like the rest of the Middle East is going through a manic building race, with it’s eye on the Financial Services Office market. After going through the 200 emails I have, it’s off to the Property Arabia Exhibition. The stands are impressive and I chat to existing clients about their products and reassure them of BW International’s efforts. Bahrain is not a major market for UK buyers and I have to be in my best ‘schmoozing’ mode. It’s not a big exhibition, so I’m finished by mid afternoon and go for a swim. At 5pm we go to a local hotel for a property wine and cheese reception which goes on all evening. Interesting to see that those from other nearby countries where alcohol is banned, seem to be getting a bit giggly!


Oh dear, I shouldn’t have had those last 4 glasses. The searing heat makes the situation twice as bad. I travel down to see Riffa Views Golf Resort.

This is an unusual development as there is an existing golf course and the development is being built around that. In their wisdom, the planners are actually rebuilding half of the golf course which has hugely upset existing members. Then on to a huge 20 square km land reclamation development called Durrat Al Bahrain which has 12 Islands and 12 miles of beaches. Formula 1 whiz Jenson Button has bought a home there. Hopefully BW International can work with the developer.


Spend the day on the plane back to London writing reports and planning next weeks work schedule. I catch a movie and a few zzzz’s. My wife is at Heathrow which is lovely, and we get home half an hour before our four weekend guests arrive. Thank goodness there is a bank holiday on Monday!