Or, to be more specific, another possibility for a permanent place to live has gone up in smoke. The bungalow didn’t work out.
Here’s a recap of what happened, from my perspective:
We arrive for our 5pm viewing and are greeted at the door by the agent* and the owners. The owners are an older gentleman and his daughter. We exchange a bit of small talk about where we are from, etc. and then go inside. They seem nice.
The house is over two levels. The top floor has a kitchen room (minus an actual kitchen which we would have to purchase), a dining room with french doors that is connected via a sliding glass door to a large, bright lounge where one wall is entirely windows with a door out to the balcony, an office room, a master bedroom, a guest loo and sink and a bathroom with tub and his/her sinks. All the rooms are centered around the staircase in the center. Downstairs (which we never actually saw….more on this later) has another loo with shower and two additional bedrooms for guests.
While it is a bit dated in some ways as it was built in the 60s, I really like the house and its layout. The lounge and dining room are both lovely and bright with wooden floors, the master bedroom is pretty large and in general, it’s definitely big enough to work for us for a very long time. There are downsides: the heating system is old (metal radiators in the rooms), there are some pretty hideous limey-yellow tiles in the kitchen and guest loo that wouldn’t be replaced, we would have to pay for some type of flooring in the master bedroom, we would also have to pay the cost of having all the walls painted, and of course the cost of a kitchen and the agency fee. But overall, I love its vibe and could definitely see myself living here.
While we’re viewing the house’s top floor, The Mr. is asking lots of questions and there’s lots of discussion taking place between the agent, the daughter and the Mr., some of which is translated for me but much of it is not. This is how it works when we view something. The Mr. is fed tons and tons of information, and maybe 20 percent is relayed back to me. I don’t blame him for this. It would be exhausting for him to translate every single word, so he simply gives me the most critical information.
The Mr.’s also pointing things out to me: old heaters in the rooms, a crack in the floor…we have very different viewing styles. My inclination is to walk in and go, “Ooh, look at those huge windows…and so spacious! Beautiful!” However, I lack the appropriate language skills to convey my thoughts and compliments, so I simply smile a lot. The Mr., on the other hand, plays the role of inspector. He wants to know how expensive it’s going to be to heat, how energy-efficient it is, etc. He worries about the practical stuff. I guess we’re just playing our stereotypical roles, but there you have it.
At one point, we’re in the master bedroom and the Mr. points out to me that the windows are double-glazed and not triple-glazed as we were told they all were. He even goes to another room to compare the glazing, and comes back knowing for certain it is double-glazed only. He points it out the agent. The agent is unsure, he calls the daughter in to ask. She comes in and starts explaining something. I saunter out back into the lounge to look at the huge windows again, imagining where our sofa will go and what color we’ll have the walls painted. Everybody comes in and the Mr. is asking something.
The Mr.: Wah, wah, wah, wah?
Daughter: Wah wah wah wah.
The Mr.: Um…I’m not so sure….wah wah wah wah.
Daughter: Wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah!! (Seems like she’s getting agitated and angry about something…I hope it’s not with us….)
(The Mr. tries to interject something, unsuccessfully)
Daughter: Wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah!! Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah, wah wah!Wah wah wah wah!! Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah, wah wah!!! Wah wah wah wah!! Wah wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah. Wah wah wah wah, wah wah!
(The Mr. seems to be apologizing? Seriously, what’s going on here….)
The Mr.: Thank you, goodbye. (Shakes hands with daughter and her father. I do the same. Agent walks us out.)
Agent: Wah wah wah wah. I’m sorry, wah wah wah wah. (Hands The Mr. his business card.)
The Mr.: Wah wah wah wah. Wah wah take a picture and you’ll see wah wah wah.
(We walk away from the house.)
Me: What the %&$* just happened?!?!
The Mr. explains to me that while he was asking his questions throughout the house, he could tell the daughter was slowly getting more and more annoyed. Then the question was asked about the double-glazed windows in the master bedroom. She explained that they had decided on double-glazing for these instead of triple as they are west-facing and deteriorate more quickly (or something like that). The Mr. then pointed out to her that they actually aren’t west-facing windows, and she lost it. She went off on a tangent about how this place “isn’t right for us,” and The Mr. is “too theoretical.” She also threw in things like “it’s too big for two people,” and “isn’t a good fit and it won’t work.”
And that was it. Another opportunity disintegrated.
What did we learn here, kids?
- Be careful when an owner is involved in the viewing. The two times we had a viewing blow up was when the owner was present. As I explained, the Mr. plays the role more of inspector and although he isn’t overtly critical, he asks probing questions that might reveal less than ideal answers. Owners don’t want these questions asked and they don’t want to have to defend the property. They want you to ooh and ahh and give compliments and say “we’ll take it” with no further information required.
- This is a rental market where the owner holds all the cards, not you. In less absurd cities in the world, the owner or agent spends his/her time trying desperately to convince you that this property is perfect and you should take it. Here, it’s the other way around. There is so much competition and demand for decent property that you actually need to convince them to give it to you and not someone else. Because no doubt there are 10 someone elses lining up to take it if you don’t.
- We should have moved to Hamburg.
*As I think I’ve explained before, in Germany you can find a property either through a letting agency or directly through the owner of the property. By far the better choice is finding something directly through an owner because this is offered “provision” or fee free. If the property is being offered through an agency, however, it means you as the renter will pay an agent a huge amount of money (in this case it would have been 2,500 euros) just for him/her to show you the place and handle the lease paperwork. Then the agent’s work is completely done, no joke. You deal directly with the owner from then on for any repairs, etc. so the agent makes a HUGE amount of money off of you for essentially doing nothing. If I ever re-enter the work force, it will be as a property agent in Würzburg.