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Escape from brokerreich

Tips from a veteran on how to maintain sanity even when thrown among lunatics 

To the extent possible, avoid brokers. Many of us go to a realty broker because we have no choice. Always try to secure your next house through friends and contacts, or web searches. Money is not the issue here. There are many, like the greenhorn me, who are willing to shell out the money for some services rendered. Still I advise against involving a broker in a deal unless absolutely unavoidable and urgent. Always remember that the hassles you go through in finding a house on your own are less than the hassles you have to put up with when there is a shark in the middle. For those unavoidable cases, when we cant without a broker, here are some sacred tips to follow to ensure that you are not cheated. 

* At the outset itself, clearly tell the broker what are your expectations from the house, round-the-clock-water, phone connections, your commission payment capacity etc. This is mandatory to avoid later-day problems. 

* Avoid brokers who arrange houses through their friend brokers. The more intermediaries between you and the landlord, the more poblems you have to face. 

* Always retain the initiative with yourself. Insist on meeting the landlord and discussing the money issues threadbare. Brokerdom will resist this. Dont give up. Say clearly that you wont take the house until you meet the landlord in person. 

* Many brokers keep the lease agreement prepared, get it signed by you, take it to landlord in his own sweet time and and later return the signed copy to you. Meanwhile, you will be in need of the house deed for, say tax rebate purposes or proof of residence. if the landlord is willing to ome down, get the document signed in his presence and make a copy for you. Or, even better, visit the landlord's house, with broker and get the signatures and stuff. 

* After moving in to the house, you dont want problems like a society chasing you for dues and the power company cutting your power connection. Many brokers keep the landlord in the dark about bill-payment dues. Before you set out to meet the landlord itelf, tell the broker that all dues must be clear by then. You can mention it again once you meet the landlord. 

* Do not hand over the security deposit to the broker as you set out to visit the landlord. The money is yours. Retain the initiative and talk the money part to the landlord yourself. Hand over the security deposit to the landlord, and the commission to the agent. Since brokerdom operates in a grey area, there will be no documents for his commission; but the landlord usually gives a receipt or signs on the lease document annexure itself confirming receipt. 

* There are ultimate crooks who demand commissions from both sides, keeping the other side in the dark. Only a landlord-tenant meet and ensuing discussion on commission will expose this. If it turns out that he has demanded 2 months rent from both sides, force him to accept only one month's rent each from both sides. if it is not aceptable to him, you can jointly ask him to go take a walk. He will capitulate at this point. 

* Ask the landlord what mode of payment he prefers for rent. These may seem small issues, but left unresolved, can throw up avoidable problems later. 

* Get the landlord's phone number and correct address noted down. When you need him the next time, the broker may not be around. 

* Strike a deal with the landlord. Tell him you will come and pay him the monthly dues every month; At the same time, you can take the society dues from him and pay it to the society on return. This makes things easier for landlord and he may appreciate it. Always hand over the bill receipts to him and keep a copy. 

* In some places where bill defaults are high, MTNL insists on a no-objection certificate from your landlord before giving you a phone. Do involve the broker in this. For him, it is another opportunity to grab your money. 

* Pay all monthly dues on time. Dues include rent, cable charges, and power bill. Society bills are supposed to be paid by the landlord. 

* Before the end of the lease, talk to the landlord about your further plans. if you can join hands with the land lord, the commission amount on lease renewal can be negotiated to half. If you are moving out, inform him at least a month in advance, so he can arrange for the security deposit to be returned to you in time. After leaving the house, you don't want to travel back and forth. Keep the broker completely out of the payment picture. 

* Remember that most sharks will volunteer to take up the "financial responsibilities". Say thank you and decline the offer.



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