Expat House Hunting in Cairo: Dos and Don’ts


Being a seasoned, expat house hunter, turned realtor living in Cairo, I’m in a great position to supply advice on house hunting. There are many great agents in Cairo, but unfortunately there are also many that are not so good.  Follow our dos and don’ts guide  to house hunting in Cairo.

DO

Find an agent you can trust. Unfortunately, I have had a number of problems with agents. One guy, let’s call him Agent Ahmed,  told me that I should be careful about trusting Egyptian agents, but that he was different and he dealt with
foreigners all the time. This same guy lied to me about a number of things. I viewed a property and he lied to me about the price.

I found a property with another agent, Mohamed, and signed the contract. The next day he called me and told me the
owner (who happened to be his brother) had changed his mind and wished to renege on the deal. I contacted the owner and it turns out that he had had a dispute with his brother over commission and his brother had told him that I had reneged on the deal.

If possible find an English speaking agent, or even better, a native English agent. One good thing about Agent Ahmed was that he spoke fluent English. Unfortunately that was the only good thing about him.
Be clear on your needs and communicate them to your agent. A good agent will only show you properties that
meet your requirements. Agent Ahmed had a habit of showing me apartments that did not meet my requirements and were way overpriced.

Close the deal quickly if you like the property. Properties can go very quickly, especially in high season and in popular expat areas such as Maadi.

Ensure both you and the landlord sign the rental contract and have a copy. This will prevent any disputes in the future. The contract should state which bills are included in the rent. It’s also advisable to ask to see copies of the bills.

DON’T

Don’t believe an agent when s/he tells you that you have to pay a broker fee equivalent to one month’s rent, but s/he can give you a “special price”. Foreigners are not obliged to pay brokerage fees. Agent Ahmed told me that it was usual to pay the agent a brokerage fee of one month’s rent and as he knew me to be a nice, honest lady, with a white heart, he was sure I would do the right thing.

Agent Mohamed told me the same thing and when I refused to pay a broker fee he threatened to call the police.
Don’t pay more than one month’s rent as a security deposit, as it may be difficult to get it back.

Be afraid to negotiate on the rent. Most owners are willing to be flexible.

As you can see, renting property in Egypt can be somewhat of a minefield. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance.

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