Jade Morris set a real estate record in the United Arab Emirates this summer by selling a nine-bedroom mansion overlooking the Dubai hills for 96 million dirhams ($26.1 million), for which her company Jade & Co Real Estate represented both buyer and seller.
Born to ‘humble’ beginnings in a council house in Slough – the British town made famous by the hit comedy Office — Mrs. Morris came to Dubai 10 years ago for a better life.
Now 32, she lives at Arabian Ranches with Love, her three-legged rescue cat.
How did money fit into your upbringing?
I come from a working-class family where we never talked about money. Even in our community…you wouldn’t have anyone educated about money.
I never felt like I belonged. I always knew inside that I would do something in my life.
My father worked night shifts as a manager at Mars chocolate bars and my mother worked at Asda (a supermarket). My parents did their best to give us what they could, but I also knew that we lived for the month and there had to be more to life.
Did it make you want to work?
Yes, and it was not for money to buy anything. I wanted freedom.
When I was 12 I called every hairdresser in Slough and Windsor, and Escape Hairdressing offered me a job for £20 (Dh88) for 10 hours every Saturday.
When I left home at 16, I was working and trying to get into college. I couldn’t afford the rent, even the bus fare to go to university, but I didn’t want to give up because I was studying business and I thought that was my way to go from forward and get things done.
I ended up working in a real estate agency at 20, a fixed salary doing rental.
So, have you had any hard times?
A few bad years. The bank offered me a loan when I was about 19 years old. I had never seen £10,000 before and made… my worst financial decision. The only sensible thing (was) I had a Peugeot and cleared the funding.
In 2010, my salary dropped dramatically and I couldn’t make ends meet, and the debt started. I was £25,000 in debt when I was 21.
I worked until 6 p.m. (in the agency), then walked to The Harvester (a restaurant) and worked there until midnight.
I earned my money from tips. It’s the most grueling situation I’ve been in.
It had to happen to me because it shaped me; I would never be as sensitive with money as I am now.
What brought you to Dubai?
My boss sent me an advertisement to become a real estate agent in Dubai, which said: “Can you imagine earning £250,000 a year, excluding taxes?
I had never heard of Dubai. I typed it into Google and called a recruiter.
Within two weeks I sold my car and hopped on a plane in 2012. I was working for a company, [and was] their best broker for eight years.
The first thing I did was settle my debts in England and bring my parents to Dubai.
Did the money come quickly?
I lived in an apartment with nine men, shared the same bathroom… I didn’t know until they rented me the room. But I didn’t move because I wasn’t going to stress myself out.
In my second month, I earned about 150,000 Dh. I was 22 – it wasn’t luck, it was determination and focus.
I went to the office every day at 8 a.m., I didn’t leave until 10 p.m. I was calling 150 people a day. I’ve always managed to win because I’m so positive about what I do.
Is money a motivation?
It’s not. I feel grateful and lucky to have found a job that I am good at, that I enjoy, that has so much money as a byproduct.
But it doesn’t come without hard work. I sacrificed so much in my 20s. I didn’t party with friends. I’m always sacrificing, (but) if I didn’t like it, I couldn’t do it.
I’m driven by the freedom and choice that money gives you. If I feel exhausted and want to travel for two weeks anywhere in the world, I want to be able to.
Also, I love helping people. I supported my family a lot.
Why create your own agency?
During the Covid-19, everyone went into panic mode that everything had to be stopped.
I closed about Dh1m in commission in full confinement from my home. The prices were so low. I called all my investors; the people who trusted me listened to me.
I took a nice but humble office, hired an administrator, and paid all my expenses a year in advance.
In two months, I broke even.
What did you think of the agreement of 96 million Dh?
It was amazing. But I have the same feeling for this case as for the sale of a Dh5m (house).
Yes, the money is good, but what motivates me are the negotiations and the conclusion.
What is your attitude towards spending and saving?
Very balanced. I like beautiful things, but not in a crazy way. Maybe I would go out twice a month, but to a good restaurant.
This (my house) is rented. Buying a house I live in would be an emotional thing, the timing must be right.
Prices for villas in Dubai – June 2022
If I owned this house, it would be around 5 million Dh, (but) I can use this 5 million Dh to buy a property and earn more than my rent for the year; when you look at it from the other side, what money can do…
How to grow your wealth?
By investing. I don’t necessarily agree with saving, it’s moved back and forth.
I have a part put aside in case of opportunity, like a very good property (bargain). I recently purchased a large property in Dubai Hills.
I bought my first property in Dubai when I was 24, an apartment in Sports City. It was a huge goal, a proud moment, and I’ve been buying and selling ever since.
I have been investing in cryptocurrencies since 2014. I am a long term holder.
I just bought land in the metaverse. You can rent your land, build on it. It is a vision for later. I’m glad to learn.
Are you wise with money?
Absolutely, because I never want to go back. It’s ingrained in me. The darkest days of my life… I can never allow that to be the case (again).
I will never go mad for no reason. I prefer to buy a quality thing than 10 pieces for quantity.
I love Louboutin shoes, I wear them almost every day to work, but the lady will message me when the sale is on.
If you don’t handle the money properly, you can lose it quickly. I am eternally grateful.
If you stay grounded and keep bringing yourself back to the little things in life… you attract good things.
What are you happy to spend?
I treat my friends and family. I get a buzz from seeing other people happy, like my parents. I gave them a vacation. I want to buy them a house, here or somewhere in England.
There is no point in having money unless everyone around you is equally happy.
Updated: August 19, 2022, 6:02 p.m.