The search for a house can be frustrating but that doesn’t mean the series of interactions with brokers and landlords is without its fair share of humour. Of course, all real-estate comedy is only funny in hindsight.
1. Meeting the broker
After hours of scrolling on rental listings on websites, we managed to find the ‘perfect’ house and contact its broker. Copy, paste, dial, exchange hellos. A call is made to set up a rendezvous point, just as smugglers would do in old movies. And that’s how easy we would expect the deal to go down. Here’s what happens instead:
Me: We talked over the phone about a 3BHK in HSR …
Me: So let’s go and see that shall we?
Broker: Woh ghar(pause for dramatic effect)ab nahin raha. (That house is (available) no more.)
Me: So why is is still listed on the website?
Broker: We will tell our guy to bring it down. We have other 3BHK flats. Hum dikhaata hai na aapko badhiya ghar.
That’s like their motto. They tell you that and the next second you are off on the pillion of the motorcycle with a random stranger who is tripling, without a helmet and talking on the mobile phone with only one hand on the handle. But they can’t miss a call because that is worth a month’s rent in brokerage(somewhere between 20K to 30K). With the number of brokers in this city on the rise, risking lives is just an occupational hazard.
2. An actually complicated relationship
The broker-househunter relationship is complicated. It’s like an open marriage. You know pretty well your broker is going to show your bookmarked house to other prospective buyers. Your broker knows pretty well too that you will be consulting the services of rival brokers and seeing other houses. But you can’t let the above trivialities sour your relationship. He might just strike a great deal for you with the owner.
Unhappy with the houses being shown by a broker, we contacted another broker in the same area. You can imagine the awkwardness of the entire situation when our new broker hitched a ride with our old broker to meet us the first time. Apparently they were friends.
Old Broker: Bhaiya, yeh kya hai?(What’s this?)
New Broker: You know him?
Old Broker: Yes. I’ve been showing him houses since a week.
New Broker: You didn’t like any of the houses he showed? That isn’t possible.
Me: But I didn’t.
The next few seconds were punctuated with an awkward silence. Extremely awkward.
Old Broker: I have to get back to a customer.
3. On having friends come over
There is a lot of euphemism going on in the renting business on the topic of bringing your friends over. And by friends they mean lovers and house owners have taken offense at the prospect of friends coming over. One particular owner referred to us as pious-looking people who wouldn’t bring the ladies home. An usual request from middle-aged people renting homes to bachelors phrased in a slightly creepy way. There was another broker who put the above policy in plain broken English:”You bring friends. You take them inside. You bring girlfriends. You kick them out.” That seems slightly harsh. Especially the bringing people home to kick them out part.
4. Dealing with Car-beds
We browsed through a house on display which was described as fully furnished with two beds. The only thing they forgot to conveniently leave out was that one of the beds was a car-bed. The following is a car-bed:
That sleazy caption is the only reason a person in his twenties would like to sleep in a car-bed. The house was good in more than one way. So we talked with the broker and asked him to ask the owner to do something about the car-bed. Imagine our disbelief when the owner came back with the epic reply, “You must deal with the car-bed.” We confirmed what deal with it meant? Can we throw it from the balcony and pretend it never existed? Can we keep in locked in the cabinets and pretend it never existed? No, apparently deal with it meant that one of us needed to man up and deal with a car-bed being in our house and start sleeping in it. The car-bed had to stay. We had marked the place for later but never got back to it.
There’s plenty more tidbits on how we lost out a house to female bachelors, how we were told to show up as a family to occupy family-only houses(set of three brothers one of whom is already married), how we must learn to keep our religions off the walls and in our hearts, how we could hangout on the balcony in lungis to enjoy the Bangalore wind… uhmm.. I think we saw too many houses.