Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Working Backwards...

There are still photos and stories from the honeymoon, but I haven't even gotten to my journal entries yet, or properly sorted through the pictures.

Instead, I'll tell you about renting in Brazil.

It can drive you to madness.

As documented on the blog, I visited dozens of apartments, with multiple agents. In Rio, at least, it appears that apartments might be "listed" with several agents at once. It pays to be wary; I had one agent call me and cancel my appointment with another person because somehow she'd gotten wind of my interest in the place and wanted to show it to me herself. Roundly confused by the mash of names and apartment numbers, I was fooled, but figured it out. Needless to say, she didn't last as our realtor. (And the place was dumpy, anyhow.)

Those dozens of apartments included exactly one apartment that we could have conceivably rented, and that belonged to a truly eccentric lady who didn't want us to have children. Expats and all, we were effectively priced out of the Zona Sul housing market. This seems to be happening all over the place; I've heard of rents being jacked up 20-50% when the contract is renewed. At least one other expat has told us that prices in Ipanema/Leblon are so outrageous that he can't afford a place in the "company recommended" areas and will be shopping in more reasonably priced neighborhoods. I'm curious to see how this all pans out for Rio. If expats (many of whom come with housing budgets set by their companies) can't afford to live here, how are regular Brazilians going to afford it?

We found that moving neighborhoods was good for our pocketbook and commute: it's a great place, with twice the space, in a neighborhood just minutes from hubby's work. The selling point, a giant covered porch, continues to woo us. Every time we find another minor issue (or major) with the house, we go there to breathe and remember why we rented this place.

I'd never intended on actually staying here. When the realtor showed me the apartment, I realized it should have been out of our price range. When she admitted that, yes, the advertised price didn't *actually* include the furniture and appliances, I waved goodbye. Not interested. We were firm on what we were willing to spend on rent, and the figure she quoted was way, way off.

The realtor should have walked away, too, but she didn't. Her bulldog persistency, coupled with the landlord's preference for us as renters, eventually landed us the furnished place for the unfurnished price. I think she thought I was negotiating, when all I was really doing was giving up. :D

Of course, this happened three days before we were leaving on vacation, and it took time to get the contract worked up...and then mistakes were made...and multiple contract versions were floating around...and then there were last minute requests for money, deposits, mad-freaking-strangeness...which is when I began to have a breakdown.

So here's my advice when renting Brazilian. Double-check to make sure a lawyer has REALLY read your contract. Prepare to spend money on all sorts of strange things (unfurnished apartments may lack toilet seats, cupboards and showerheads). Check the taps and make sure water actually comes out of them as some landlords have removed their hot water pipes for no obvious reason. Sneak peeks at the back of the furniture to check for termites. And find some Valium, because you might really need it.


anne said...

still hoping for kitchen photos :D
and perhaps photos of the "view" from the covered porch area?

Anonymous said...

I'll send Anne the kitchen photos.

anne said...

thank you anonymous, for the photos!!! they are awesome!
kitchen w/some counter!
(I would have space if I got rid of more stuff...sigh)