Rags to Riches: Self-made millionaire from Co Derry on selling Dubai’s most expensive villa

Conor McKay was only 19 and working in the motor sales industry when he decided that he wanted to move to Dubai and become a millionaire.

The Limavady man started his real estate career in Dubai when he was a teenager, after repeatedly “harassing” real estate brokers for a job.

The 24-year-old, who turns 25 next week, makes no secret of how he grafted his way out of a housing estate to become one of Dubai’s leading luxury property brokers.

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Since then, McKay has emerged as one of Dubai’s leading luxury property brokers and has been named in the UAE top 10 agents by PropertyFinder along with being awarded by UAE property portals as the Best Agent on multiple monthly occasions.

The 24-year-old is also one of only three real estate agents in Dubai to be named PropertyFinder’s number 1 agent in two consecutive years.

Speaking to MyDerry, Conor explained he always “loved making money” and would have people working for him while he was at school.

“I grew up like anyone else really,” he said. “I was really into sports when I was growing up but I was always into making money.

“I would have three or four people working for me in school, selling energy drinks, sweets, chocolates and after that, I began running Golf Store NI on eBay. I always had an interest in making a lot of money.

“I then got another job in a bar and I was enjoying doing that at the time but I wasn’t really making any money at it.

“That’s when I decided that I would try car sales and I got a job with Donnelly.”

It was after work that Conor would then go home and watch Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles, a reality TV show featuring young real estate agents selling high-end properties in Los Angeles.

That is when the thought came to him: “I wanted to be exactly like one of them.

“What struck me about it all was the way that they lived. It was like something that I had never really been exposed to before. They all had good business acumen, had handsome earnings and lived lavish lifestyles.

“I was absolutely astonished looking at these properties and the commission that they would be receiving, which always popped up on the screen.

“I thought to myself, if they can do it then so could I.”

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The go-getter told how he initially tried moving to the US before settling in the Middle East.

“I had all the intentions of moving over to the USA and trying to get started there but it didn’t work out because it’s not an easy process of getting into America and that’s when I came across Dubai.

“I had never been in Dubai, I had never been for a holiday and I kept getting turned down by brokers because there were no people of the age that I was doing the job that I wanted to do. It was unheard of.

“One company after me harassing them for quite a while gave me an opportunity. Fast forward to the present day and I am living my absolute dream.

“It’s easy for people now to look at the posts on social media and think that it was easy to get here but I can assure them that it’s not.

“When I finally got a job I initially had nowhere to live, I stayed in a hotel for seven days and then I ended up getting a maid’s room, which was very small.

“I had no idea what I was doing either, I had to learn as I went along and I just knew that I would have to work harder than anyone else out here.

“When I first started and even to this day, there are some days where I start at 8am and don’t finish at midnight. It’s a lot of work and that’s what is required if you want to make it.”

McKay has emerged as one of Dubai’s leading luxury property brokers and has been named in the UAE top 10 agents

Conor, who now works for Belleview Real Estate, now holds the record for selling Dubai’s most expensive villa.

The Co Derry man sold a custom-built, 33,300-square-foot mega-mansion earlier this month for AED 280 million (€70.5 million).

The previous long-standing record – of AED 185m (€46.6m) – has been unbeaten since 2015. While many transactions came close to that amount in the intervening years.

“I actually talk to the people out in Los Angeles that were part of the reality TV show and I actually brokered a deal from Dubai for a property in LA.

“If someone told me a number of years ago that I would set the sort of record that I have then I probably wouldn’t have believed them myself.

“I’ve been doubted by everybody, I even doubted myself at times but I have set the sky as the limit now and I want to be known as the go-to real estate broker across the planet in the next ten years.”

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