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🏡 House hunting

Sunday Slant
🏡 House hunting
By Sumeru Raut • Issue #53 • View online
Oh no, it’s that time of the week again. Welcome to Sunday Slant.

Dear fellow lover of back scratches,
How are you? It’s a scorching Sunday afternoon. I’m perched very comfortably in a cafe, all by myself, wearing brown-tinted sunglasses (thought you should know); everything looks like Mexico… or the Middle East. Norah Jones is playing on loop and sounds as relevant as ever.
The past few days have been exhilarating and tiring in equal measures. My wife and I started house-hunting (so that we have a place to live in and also a place in society). It seems like the beginning of a long and arduous task. We were aware that real estate prices have soared in this region, but not to the extent it has! This is all thanks to—as one post on Instagram put it—"the great migration of 2020", when folks who worked from their tiny homes in Tier 1 cities, moved to greener pastures such as this. Here, the place that shall remain unnamed, they could work from homes that overlooked sprawling fields amidst splendid greenery, all while paying half of what they paid in big cities. I write in past tense because those days of ‘half-price’ seem to be long gone… and we seem to be late to the party.
I had anticipated that rental prices would be back to pre-pandemic levels, as I had read that migrants had begun their return. But as someone who has never rented or knows nothing about real estate, this turned out to be wishful thinking. This rental market is nowhere near ‘correction’. If anything rents continue to soar to dizzying heights, surpassing Tier-1 cities even.
Like any other newly married couple that believes the world owes them something, we started our house hunt by taking our time to elaborately explore locations—long walks and longer drives in areas we liked. It’s worth noting that we know nobody here: no friends, no relatives and no contacts. Starting from scratch is ideal, and hence also challenging. Besides, knowing people isn’t of much help; localites don’t have any idea of the rental market (unless they’re renting) and migrants quickly move on to the next problem once they find their own home. So the only people who can truly help are those who are in the business of helping you find a home—real estate agents.
pretty lanes aka patli gali
pretty lanes aka patli gali
After a few days of aimlessly meandering in picturesque lanes, pointing to houses in the distance, scratching our foreheads and asking one other to make a pick; seeing houses that looked great on the outside but terrible on the inside (and never the other way around)—we realised we needed a real estate agent. It’s the usual deal. They show you houses. If you like any, then you pay them a month’s rent as brokerage.
This was all reminiscent of March 2020. Just before the pandemic hit, we underwent the same process in a different city. Funnily enough, one of the brokers then, who was keen to finalise a house, had laughed when I had insisted that we press pause till this new Coron-Virus-thing passes. “Hahaha arre kya sir! You’re worried about some virus?! OK… OK. teen din baad aana (fine, come after three days)”, he had said on the phone. And ‘teen din baad’ no one in the country could set foot outside the door. And we dodged the bullet of paying rent for a house we didn’t stay in. Masterstroke indeed.
Cut to present.
So we contacted the first agent here and he asked us to turn up at a property the next morning at 11am. We woke up early in the morning—at 10 am—planned our day, got ready and called him to inform that we were leaving. He calmly let me know in broken Hindi, “owner nahi, shaam ka aata, aapka phone karta aapka” (Owner isn’t home, I’ll call you in the evening when he returns). We got no call that evening or the next. That was when we realised that we had to shift gears and amp up our outreach. The sleepy brokers couldn’t care less about making more money by finding you a home.
4 am friends.
4 am friends.
We’ve since gone all in: posted in niche Facebook groups, contacted at least ten agents, visited places that we’ve even remotely liked, stayed up-to-date on listing websites and aggressively put ourselves out there to go see places, almost scaring some agents away—"I’ll give you my marriage certificate and my parents also. Show me the house!“
Due to this, we’ve found some success is visiting houses. We saw about 12 homes in three days, but none have fit the bill. Either the location isn’t great or the construction is old or it’s just out of our budget. One house we liked was renting at an absurd 65 thousand per month. Nope. Thanks. We refuse to spend more than a modest 20-25K… for a fantastic beach-facing villa, of course. OK, that was a joke.
I feel confident that if we keep up this streak we’ll find something we like. In multiple ways and at multiple stages, you end up learning the same lessons—keep on keeping on. Odd that I’ve been on Instagram for so long, and still haven’t learnt this life-lesson.
I’ll see you next week,
Sumeru
🦜 Tweet of the week
Sayantan Ghosh
Sanghi bigots can keep spitting communal venom on each other as much as they like, while some pictures will keep reminding them again and again that they won't succeed. Like this one. https://t.co/AZPRgI6ol6
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