Sunday, May 01, 2011

House Hunting in Koramangala

Nikhil and I have discovered a new dream profession. It requires zero intelligence, vast networks, and smooth talking abilities, and has good work-life balance because you only need to work in the evenings and on weekends.

It's the job of a broker.

When Nikhil and I started off on our house-hunt, we dreamt of finding a nice cozy little place. We knew the rent would be outrageous, considering we were looking at Koramangala. But we were okay with that, Double Income No Kids couple that we are. All we asked for was a place that we could come home to after work and find peace in.

Both of us had house-hunted in Bangalore earlier, and had found nice places in Koramangala with relative ease. Based on those earlier experiences, we decided not to use brokers this time. They charge a month's rent as commission from both the owner and the tenant, which struck as way too much. What was the internet for, anyway?

Till we discovered the reality. About 95% of the ads on real estate websites are posted by brokers (and half of those posting as 'owners' turn out to be brokers). No matter which site you look at - Sulekha, Magic Bricks, 99 Acres - they're all teeming with the blood-sucking leaches called brokers.

At one point, we were so desperate that we spent a rainy afternoon going back and forth along the lanes of Koramangala, searching for 'To Let' boards. A hopeless pursuit, of course, because brokers don't allow owners to put up these boards.

Finally, we gave up and called in the brokers. That was on Wednesday. Since then, we have covered every inch of Koramangala on Nikhil's bike, following young broker boys as they zip along without helmets in patched-together bikes, flouting all traffic rules, but never getting caught. We have been baked in the morning heat, we have been drenched in the afternoon rain, we have yelled at each other out of sheer frustration, we have been passed along from broker to broker like lucky coins.

The specimens of houses we have seen have been amazing. Houses with no bathrooms except a sort of servant quarters at the back (Rs 14, 000), a house that stank of dogs and made Nikhil almost throw up (Rs 11, 000), a house that stank of urine (Rs 16, 000), a house with a staircase a fat person would have trouble squeezing into (Rs 18, 000), a house a stone's throw away from a drain (Rs 19, 200).

We have seen at least 6-7 brokers during this time. Most were nice, except for one guy who took us to a place we had already discovered on our own, and then insisted that we pay him brokerage just because he told us it was still available. We're not taking the (mostly nice) house just because we don't want to pay him brokerage.

Right now, we're contemplating the Rs 19, 000 one near the drain. It's on the second floor, so we're hoping the stench of the drain won't be too much. It's a nice house, cozy, yellow, warm colours. It has an open kitchen, and a balcony that runs the entire length of the house. And the bathrooms are big enough, something which was an absolute must-have for me.

We've resigned ourselves to having to pay the brokerage. But really - does any profession pay so much for doing nothing as does brokering? You're getting paid just for your networks. And if you're in Koramangala and manage to get some 4 new tenants in a month, you're already above the Rs 1 lakh barrier. And I bet none of them pay tax either. Wow.
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Sands | കരിങ്കല്ല് said...

here in Germany, brokers must be registered - hence they should pay tax. But then they make the tenant pay for them.

And the brokerage is not always one month... it is sometimes 2 months rent.

So, two months rent + 19% tax = 2.38 times a month's rent... - gone from pocket, even before you are in the house. Eppadi? :)


PS: But on the good side, brokers don't rule the market. It is possible to get direct contacts with the owners if you put in some time and effort.

Jina said...

I remember listening to this radio show here where people could call in if they thought they are getting paid too much for what they do.
This guy who is a dog walker called-- He gets 1200$ a week for walking the dogs n bathing them for two days.Thats roughly 60 k in dollars tax free. He must be having another job as well.
That whole week I was contemplating to chuck the whole Phd saga n be a dog walker..:)

Jade said...

Sands: Whoa! Two months' rent! But do they do anything other than show the house? Smooth-talk or try to sell it?

Jina: I would have done it in an instant, even though I don't even like dogs! :)

R said...

Yes, some people have it easy in terms of making the moolah, even though they don't pay tax and such things. Sigh.

Good luck with the hunt!