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For some reason, new expats who don’t know where to rent, often ask an agent to give them a tour.
I never understood why some assume that real estate agents want to drive them around for days, all over the Central Valley. So they can make a commission.
I have tried, in many blogs, to explain this in a nice way. But no matter what I do, we keep getting this same request: show me around.
When I move to Costa Rica over 40 years ago, we didn’t have a clue where to live. There was no internet, there was no information about the different areas. And there were very few real estate agents who were willing to assist in anyone’s search of the perfect place to live in those days.
Because I get a lot of emails every day, with the same request, I wrote a blog “Learn where to live in 20 steps” in 2019. So now, when clients don’t know where to start, I send them the blog. Then I ask them to send me the answers to the questions in that blog.
Well, 19 out of 20 don’t send anything.
I don’t know the reason they don’t answer, but here are some ideas:
- Too lazy, I’m gonna let the realtor do my job
- I’m busy enough, we’ll see when we arrive
- Are you crazy, I want that free tour!
- It’ll be fun to live for one month in 50 places
Please understand that a landlord pays the real estate agent the first month’s rent as commission if the tenant stays for at least one year. A share of the commission goes to the office. Also, it happens that the agent has to share the commission with a listing agent. So, if the rent is $500, the agent might end up with about $150, before taxes.
Here is a real email correspondence with John & Jane, who were on vacation in Alajuela for two weeks. They fell in love with the country and wanted us to assist in finding them the right rental home. The names of the clients below are invented but the rest is not.
We just got back from our stay in Alajuela and are returning in April for 11 days. John and I are from de USA….we would like to see property FOR RENT long term in areas around Escazu, San Antonio de Escazu, Grecia, Los Santos, Berlin, etc. We don’t know and have not seen these areas but would like to see what is available in a small clean, NEW if possible, rental within close driving distance of supermarkets, restaurants, etc. We understand the area of Escazu is filled with Ex-pat Americans. Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Jane & John
My answer to their email, right away and being used to this kind of request, goes as follows:
Thanks for your email Jane & John
What is your budget, do you need furnished or unfurnished and when will you start to rent?
Beginning the Search
On the same day, I received Jane’s answer:
We are just beginning our search in CR. We are not sure about furnished or unfurnished. If it is furnished it MUST be towards the MODERN look and light appearance, not heavy dark woods…..and VERY CLEAN. The budget is between US$800 to $1500…we only need one bedroom…a nice kitchen and bath…OPEN FLOOR PLAN
Either a high rise or small main floor…NO steps…as for time frame it will not be immediate…depending on what we see will determine our decision to move. Of course, we prefer new. I did see several appealing apartments on the site. We will have a car.
Jane & John
Wow, I had to take a cup of coffee after reading this email, I’m sure that if I had still smoked, I would have lighted one. Or I could start smoking pot for the first time in my life…..Well, MUST be a modern look, not heavy dark woods, open floor plan, very clean, NO steps.
My God, that is a tall order for someone who is just looking around and doesn’t even know when they will move to Costa Rica. So I guess the plan is to look at all those different cities, including Los Santos and even Berlin…. I didn’t even know that there is a Berlin near San Ramon.
So, it seems John and Jane want to look at homes in all those locations, so they can rent a house from one of our agents one day. Or maybe, after looking they will rent something from another agency, who knows…
This was my answer to Jane and John, I tried really hard to be nice to them:
I’m really sorry Jane & John but we had to stop doing real estate tours a long time ago. I very well understand that you want to check out not only the areas but also what is available in your price range and if it suits your expectations. The problem is that what is available for rent now, will not be available by the time you’re ready to move to Costa Rica.
Too much time, energy, and gas are being spent on clients just looking. Our agents can’t afford to show clients around without getting paid for their work and the cost of touring clients for free is just much too high.
I hope you understand that. I recommend touring all the areas on your own. Stay in a hotel or B & B in each area for a couple of nights and get a good feel of that area. Online, it is very easy to search for rental options in different locations. Most rental listings have good descriptions and photos to give you a general idea of what you can expect. This is the best way to narrow down your search to one or two areas that you like and will suit your lifestyle.
Once you are ready to move, within 1 or 2 weeks of your actual moving date, you can look at the options that are available on the market. Please make sure you bring the first-month rent as earnest money. Then you can take anything you like off the market right away.
Please feel free to let us know when you have taken a decision about which area you’d like to live in and when you are ready to move. Then, with pleasure, we will show you what is available in your price range.
Unfortunately, Jane and John never answered my last email. So I hope they’re not mad at me because I didn’t do what they wanted me to do. I certainly hope they are able to do their due diligence on their own.
If you don’t want to be like John and Jane, I recommend you also read these 40 smart steps before renting a home.
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I DO want to remind our readers that we appreciate any referrals you can send us. Also, remember GoDutch Realty when talking about your home in Costa Rica to friends and family. We appreciate it.