Thursday, November 5, 2009

real-estate hell.

i've been slightly more quiet for a reason recently: in the past months i have gone down to the lowest levels of real-estate hell and come back up, only to find myself circulating in pre-move purgatory.

my sweetie and i were looking for a home to buy for several months. we meticulously peeped through listings and signed up for every single alert system on offer. we did our homework and knew the price evolution of the areas we were looking into moving. the reasoning for the project was simple: the rent of our attic loft could easily cover a significant mortgage, and whether i am willing to admit it or not, creating a home on square meters that you own instead of rent, feels more like a project i want to invest time and money in.

the same morning we left for paris we decided to check out one more apartment. falling in love with the line of six windows (all with wide window panes!) immersing the apartment with light, we scribbled down an offer, and merely ten minutes before boarding the plane we received a call congratulating us. we had a new home, and paris was all the more worthy of champagne.

our new home is one aerial block from where we're now and despite the date looming far in the future at the end of the month, i am already in the middle of inventory and moving panic. the reason might be clear from an old posting of mine: there's no elevator and we're six flights up. hence, we're rationalizing our material belongings, i.e. sorting out clothing, shoes, and all sorts of crap we've accumulated. we're selling furniture we will neither need nor want, and the apartment is suddenly devoid of closets and drawer units. which means this is my present view:

after the usual day of work we've visited both offline and online furniture stores and planned trips to countryside second-hand markets in the weekends. all in all, it's a little hectic project that takes up some time from blogging momentarily, but which will without a doubt provide material for the blog.

here's the first.

the story until now requires some explicit ranting. admittedly, i have high expectations when it comes to service and expect courteous treatment everywhere. buying a home is a huge deal and setting the mood starts with dealing with real-estate agents. no matter how you'll try to distance yourself from the social part of the process, it makes all the difference how the process of negotiation goes. my first round owning a place started hideously, and after selling the apartment a couple of years ago i decided never to buy anything that's still under construction. the nerve-wrecking months of insomnia were not worth the result.

as a general observation, it is fairly obvious that real-estate agents come from various backgrounds. there are definitely professionals in the field – and we had the pleasure of starting our current deal with one of them – but the number of incompetent, socially dyslexic and plainly stupid people trying to earn their living by selling apartments is mind-boggling. the total lack of pride and professionalism is baffling. here's some types i encountered.

the eluder. although i understand that the time used to get information about the apartment on sale must be deducted from efficient selling time, i kinda feel there is a connection between the two. it is not uncommon to have an agent present who has no idea of the place for sale, cannot answer questions, lies about not having the info, and, ultimately, ignores the questions.

the aggressor. rude agents are more the rule than the exception. i have witnessed and received so many rude comments from agents that i don't care to count. there is also a significant number of the eluding kind who respond to questions with aggression – imagine the faces of potential buyers when the agents snaps at them after posing a perfectly innocent question.

the snob. sneering and condescending agents are a league of their own. they only talk to people who look "right" at open houses and if called for a private showing, let their face show that you're wasting their time. unfortunately, i got used to handling them when i purchased my first home which i was almost not shown into because the agent deemed the apartment too expensive for me. however ridiculous their behavior is, the encounters leave a sour taste in one's mouth.

the flake. some agents are a curious bunch: how many home-owners are aware that their agents are unwilling to show the apartment because they have better things to do? let's say, in the mornings... like dealing with hangovers. some just never show up and do not answer their phones. ever wonder why your apartment is not receiving bids?

nevertheless, the worst type are people trying to sell their own place: the sentimental value one places in one's home is something agents are capable of deducting. i, for one, would not want a stranger standing in my living room, evaluating my home decor or lighting choices. when estimating a place i must consider the changes required and if my first thought is "the kitchen must go", it's preferable an agent hears it rather than the owner who lovingly selected the (hideous) ensemble the year before. also the additional value of "ambiance" is something self-sellers fail to evaluate accurately more often than not...

thus, in addition to looking for months, writing down bids and counterbids, looking yet more, feeling disappointed because interesting places are sold before you've even seen them and have time to bid, etc., apartment hunting comes with a serving of extraordinarily unpleasant people. i have a list of agents i'd never hire based on seeing them in action communicating with potential buyers.

seriously, here's one profession in dire need to clean up their act. wanna share your experiences?


Anna said...

Ensiksi: onnea uudesta kodista!!! Hienoa!! Ihanaa!!!

Me hankimme ekan oman asunnon vajaat pari vuotta sitten - ja olin hyvin onnellinen kun jo viidennellä tai kuudennella näytöllä löytyi juuri sopiva ja mieleinen. Olin nimittäin henkisesti varautunut etsimään kuukausia ja kuukausia: tuntui täysin käsittämättömältä, ettemme joutuneet etsimään kuin kaksi viikkoa. Mutta jo noiden muutamien kokemiemme näyttöjen perusteella voin allekirjoittaa täysin havaintosi. Kiinteistönvälitys on omituista puuhaa. Ennen kaikkea minua hämmästytti se, miten vähän välittäjät tiesivät asunnoista - ja miten vähän olivat valmiita selvittämään, vaikka erikseen (montakin kertaa...) jotain asiaa kysyttiin. Eikös tarkoitus olisi kuitenkin tehdä kauppaa ja antaa asunnosta mahdollisimman myönteinen mutta samalla luotettava kuva??

Onneksi hyvin nopeasti osui vastaan sekä kiva asunto että ammattitaitoinen ja luottamusta herättävä välittäjä. Ekojen näyttöjen perusteella olin nimittäin jo luopua koko hankkeesta...

indie said...

Onnea onnea, kuulostaa upealta asunnolta!

Henrik said...

been there, done that!
sama rumba edessäpäin, olisin kiinnostunut siitä listasta :)

stellagee said...

kiitos indie ja anna! olen oikeasti onnellinen, että kuukausien jälkeen löytyi yksilö, josta saadaan pienellä kehittämisellä loistokoti.

anna, kiinteistövälittäjien toiminta on oikeasti ilmeisen kummallisen laajamittainen ilmiö. en tajua, kertakaikkiaan. loistotuuri teillä, mutta varmasti myös asiaa auttoi ehkä se, että tajusitte varhaisessa vaiheessa mitä haette. yksi aika tyypillinen osa asuntometsästystähän on myös se, että selvittää itselleen mistä pitää ja mistä ei. joskus se vie oman aikansa ennen kuin voi alkaa tosissaan harkitsemaan asuntoa – tässäkin asiassa ammattitaitoinen kiinteistövälittäjä voisi tehdä pitkän pennin viitseliäisyydellä...

henrik, jep, taitaa olla tuttua monelle. onnea projektille! laitan ehkä pinon käyntikortteja huuto.nettiin ;)