A new home

I had a flat viewing yesterday, which was only a few minutes away from our current home. It looked decent but the agent tried to pressure us into taking the property because somebody else had already made an offer and paid a holding deposit but not yet seen the flat… and the other chap wanted a starting date which was a bit far in the future.

It all sounded a bit off. Why was the agency still showing the flat to people if a holding deposit had been paid? This sort of thing doesn’t sit well with me. The whole point of the holding deposit is that it holds the property for a particular individual. That’s not a difficult concept. Real estate agents really do deserve their low reputation.

We decided that we weren’t interested in the above flat and didn’t want to get involved with that agency.

Next day we had a viewing with a lovely old Asian lady, who gave us a tour of her rental property. She came across really sweet and lovely etc. We liked her and the flat.

That property was listed at £1,250 pcm and was immediately available. According to Zoopla it had also been on the market for circa two months already and this was a “listing manipulator” who kept increasing and decreasing the price many times.

We went home and after a chat we decided the property ticks the majority of our boxes and we made an offer of £1,150 pcm (£100 below asking price) with a move in date one month away from today (about 3 days before we need to move out of our current home).

We shared our house hunting adventure with a few friends who found it incredible that we make offers for rentals. I suppose some people are more comfortable paying the listed price or it’s never occurred to them that prices are always negotiable.

We got a response to our initial offer. The agent wanted to meet half way i.e. £1,200 pcm and move in about 2 weeks away from today.

I had a very brief chat with my girlfriend and we responded that we “unfortunately will not accept the counter offer as there are many flats in the area, which could meet our criteria and we have several viewings booked for next week already”. I also said that our initial offer is still on the table should the landlady reconsider.

Within half an hour the agent got back to us to confirm their surrender to our terms. We’ve now paid the holding deposit and will go through the referencing process etc. It almost feels like it was too easy to find our new home…

We did the same sort of negotiations last year, which worked out exactly the same way. So, I’d encourage you to try this method as well.

Agents always try to pressure you into making a decision quickly and want more money out of you. Stick to your guns and see what you can get away with!

In the future it would be nice to have more transparency around prices and information for individual properties. Maybe a standardised two-page factsheet like they do with investment funds could be handed out at a viewing. It would tell me the name of the owner, summary of features, risks (i.e. vermin problems, heating issues), timescales it took to fix said issues, history of repairs/improvements, history of rent amounts paid, council tax costs etc. Maybe this information could also live on a Blockchain so that landlords couldn’t manipulate the data. One can dream…

Anyway, a little about the new home… It’s a larger one-bedroom flat (52 sqm), has a private garden (90 sqm – I calculated this from the floor plan they provided… it’s quite large when we saw it, so might be accurate) and has clear separation between the bedroom and living room (so it’s possible for two people to work from home). The rent remains the same as our current suboptimal flat.

The above should give a bit of a flavour of what’s it like in the current rental market in London. I think we got a decent deal and we are very pleased with ourselves.

Hopefully all goes well and we get to sign on the dotted line some time next week.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend,

A couple renting in London