By Violetta Tudorache – owner of Bliss Imobiliare www.bliss-residences.ro serving the international community since 2006.
These are her top 11 tips for members of the international community seeking to rent in Bucharest.
- Don’t be surprised by the asking amounts for rents. Bucharest is a European capital with high housing demand and low-quality supply. It’s a competitive market and you are competing with multinationals and diplomats with substantial budgets.
- Work with a reliable real estate agent. Seek recommendations from your friends and colleagues already present in Bucharest.
- Don’t believe what you see or find on the internet. Many of the properties are long gone or at artificially low prices. Your agent will advise you on the available listings.
- Note down your top five requirements, agree them with your family. Location, compound/stand alone, size, pool, fourth bedroom etc. Traffic can be disaster so inform yourself well about your daily commute before you sign.
- Once you have seen some properties, list down your top three. Quality houses go fast, especially in the busy May/June/July period, you need to decide quickly. Chances are if you like the house, so will the many other families who are viewing the property.
- Once you have shortlisted your properties try to visit them as often as you possibly can and at completely different times of day. Some places have bad traffic conditions, awkward entrances, some places are in continuous shadow etc.
- Bear in mind that you are renting and, as an expat, you are probably renting for 24-36 months so it doesn’t have to be your absolute dream house, be prepared to compromise. It’s a bit like a puzzle with many parts. Be clear about deal breakers – proximity to busy road – and make sure these are not overlooked or forgotten when you come across some highly appealing feature – gorgeous “claw-foot” tub for example.
- Always ask about the additional expenses connected to the property you like – compound fees can add a chunk to the overall cost.
- Be clear at the outset about pets should this apply. We have seen many prospective tenants upset to discover that the landlord simply will not budge on his or her “no pets” policy.
- Take out a personal liability insurance policy to hedge against overzealous landlords trying to sting you for “wear and tear” at the end of your contract.
- Always insist on a contract. This specifically applies to the lower end of the market. Some landlords would like to rent without contract as they can avoid taxes, but it leaves the tenant exposed and you are complicit to tax evasion and money laundering.
This past year we have seen demand increase by between a fifth and a quarter while quality supply has tightened up. Newer supply comes with quality and modern houses, but with lesser garden and without amenities like swimming pools. Good properties go very fast, but the market has a glut of poorer quality rental properties with many owners adopting an unrealistic, emotional attachment to their properties rather than viewing them purely as a business. They are sometimes too demanding when it comes to contracts, not prepared to negotiate on price even if it means the property remaining empty, whilst at the same time they are reluctant to renovate beyond the superficial. Be aware that the bulk of the properties in the most attractive positions were built before 2010 and not with the highest quality in mind.
The bulk of our expat clients are looking around the north Bucharest area – Pipera and Baneasa primarily, with the Herastrau, Dorobanti, Kiseleff, Primaverii area as alternatives for the clients looking to be nearer to the centre – because of their proximity to the international schools. Our clients tend to be in the 2,000 euro-4,000 euro per month budget. For them the choice is often between a well-appointed villa with garden and pool but an older building with associated problems or a much younger place but with small garden and often no pool. For this reason, with these older properties, it’s important to ensure a break clause in the contract usually for after the first 12 months. Some of the big villas with pools and gardens are upwards of 15 years old with many of these continuously rented and with only cosmetic renovations carried out between leases. Problems only occur after the tenant has moved in.
We will be looking at other elements of real estate on the pages of OZB over this year.