Tuesday, 4 August 2009

The first month: Renting a house

Now that I have spent almost a month after returning and have almost secured a house on rent (This was a big achievement for me in last one month). This was certainly an achievement after seeing almost 25-30 houses of all types. Although I consider myself very experienced in searching a house on rent ( have done it in most of the metros except Chennai ) still I received some very very useful tips by a friend of mine who accompanied me on many of my house hunting 'expeditions'. Most of these are tested with real situations.

1. Never say that you have returned back to India from outside. If asked mention some Indian city from where you are getting re-located. Most importantly do have a phone number from that city where anyone can call and inquire for you. Explain the person who might have to answer the call about you that they should never mention anything about outside India. Otherwise any such mention will just make either the deposit or the rent or both double.

2. When asked, quote the lowest possible budget for rent to the brokers. This will make them explain you that it’s very very difficult to get a decent house in that budget in that locality and also very important is to allow them to advice you to consider some other localities. Once they have talked at length about other options ask them to look something in your budget in the area that you initially asked. Do not assure that your budget can go up .. give him hope by saying that please show me the house first.

3. The broker will ask if you are ok with a fully furnished house at a higher rent. Remember fully furnished houses are not very common in India and also mostly available in a very up-scale end of the market. This is yet another question to gauge your 'haisiyat'.

4. To the house owners or to the brokers maintain your 'deen-heen-awastha' . Bargain .. Make a poker face and quote the half of the rent that the owner has asked. Be ready to be thrown out or for situations where owners turning impolite to you.

5. Never fail to 're-visit' the same house from where you were thrown out two days back. Inquire owner’s health .. weather .. but do not talk about the house again.

6. Mention your company as you will be asked but never mention what you do there. Keep mentioning lowest end of the ladder to everyone without mentioning your salary or your designation. Now for salary part, its tricky as after mentioning that the owner might pity you (most of the time he would be earning far more than you with what would seem to be no-work for him at all) or in certain cases might discourage you from renting his/her house and can advice you some cheaper options that he knows.

7. Always maintain a poker face and even if you like the house try to find faults. Beat it down.

8. Count rooms carefully.

9. Don't get into Vastu stories. This one comes from a similar house hunting experience we had in Bangalore. Where we went to see a house(Flat) in BTM layout near that Bannerghata road. This guy showed us three rooms and he counted them as well. Then we realized that the third room looks a bit small.. also one of the friend remembered that he didn't notice any 'balcony' as it was on third floor so we inquired the owner .. pet came the reply .. actually saar according to vastu the 'balcony' was not good for house so we closed it and converted that into a room. So is it a four room flat ... no saar the third room was the 'balcony' we converted it into room so that you can have complete peace of mind... aayio and 2k extra as rent for your peace of mind ..

10. Discuss and ask again and again .. as after lot of questioning one owner mentioned that he might require one of the rooms for few days in a month as his mother is old and is on some type of medicine and she is staying in some other place and visits to see the doctor. just couldn't ask why can't his mother stay with him/his family.

11. No matter what the owner will always slip-in something into the contract to keep you un-comfortable and then blame it on the lawyer who wrote that. But then they would not like you to propose another lawyer.

12. Most of them would not be very keen to give you rent receipts and would slip in very innocent looking lines .. I do not like keeping papers so you can e-transfer it into my mom/wife's account so that even you will have a record in your bank statement. They would not like you to ask so who owns the house its you or your wife/mom. If you own the house then how can I pay rent to your wife and then how should I show my e-transfers to income tax department as they still like to get papers as proof of rent.

13. No one wants to discuss the pending electricity bills. It will be dealt with sweeping statements like yes yes we are very very prompt with all our bills.

14. Check the loos carefully. During my expeditions saw a house which had one washroom with both types of commodes, which the broker mentioned as .. saar two proper commodes English as well as Indian ... but forgot to mention that they are co-located as if you get bored reading news on the English one then put the paper on that and then move to the Indian one without changing the room or anyone knowing outside.

15. Never get lured by any mention of society or club. They are common tools to justify the price. Swimming pool is even bigger wastage as no-one would be changing the waters regularly and remember a great man once said 'a Gentleman is one who comes out of bath to pee' but then there are very few gentlemen.

16. You might have to appear for interviews to check if you are suitable to stay in that society or not. In one house the owner had gone out and had left the task to find a renter to his brother who was staying in the same apartment. That guy showed me the house and then started reeling off the rules of the society. Then he mentioned that I will have to appear for an interview in front of society members and then they will decide if I am suitable enough to stay or not. I wondered if he really wanted to rent that house (as the money would go to his brother ) or just happy to report back to his bro that he is not able to find a 'suitable-match' for the house.

17. Never discuss politics with owner or the broker.

18. The biggest NO. Never look (normal indian stare) at the lady (wife/sister/daughter or anyone ) in the house even if she is really beautiful. If you get the house you will get more chances so don't try to maximize your benefits in the first meeting itself. Never ever try to impress ladies while you are searching a house. There are execptions to this rule but they are too few to take a chance.

19. Show respect for father-in-laws. As there are chances that the house that you want might have been 'gifted' to him by his father-in-law.

20. Check the surroundings. As for one house the broker said .. saar very beautiful view from balcony saar .. you will see lake with good greenery saar ... now what he didn't say that the lake was actually a pond and people who do not have a comfort of a walled area for bath will be taking bath there throughout the day and also your laundary-wala would be washing your cloths in front of your eyes. It might be appealing if you want to do research on bathing habit of people.


  1. Welcome back!

    You seem to have had some interesting experiences while house-hunting- maybe you can write a 'how to' guide for others in a similar situation?

    Hoping that the house you have decided upon turns out to be an ideal one!

  2. Welcome back!

    This is a comprehensive write up. I think you should change the title to "A house hunting guide for returning NRIs" or something like that. It will benefit more people looking for such info.

  3. Havn't you been away for too long?Welcome back with an excellent post

  4. Desite the empathy I can feel(yeah we went through a rather similar experience about 8 years back) :D I have to laugh out loud!!:D:D
    what an experience!

    welcome back UI!:))

    Vinod Sir is right about the tag part. Changing the title and the tags would help a lot of people actually:)

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