Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Ready for Inspection

Guillermo and I have decided to obtain a valuation on our apartment in order to have some idea on the current residential properties market.

It is interesting how I immediately reverted to form: I de-cluttered, de-personalised, tidied up the place to the point of ironing our bed sheets. I also noted that we should fix the slight peeling of paint on the ceiling over our bathtub. In short, I was thinking of turning our apartment into a show home for potential buyers. I blame myself for watching too many episodes of The Block or House Doctor.

While Guillermo understands this is pretty standard in London or Sydney, he also tells me, as the son of seasoned real estate agent parents, that people here are generally not as exigent. When I recall our own apartment hunting experience, I have to agree with him. Dirty dishes piled up in the sink were very common; in one of the apartments we visited, a yet to be flushed toilet which had the seat up, was exposing no small amount of grossness.

Those were all sizeable apartments in decent areas such as the greener parts of Belgrano and Palermo, so logically Guillermo feels the way we keep our home normally is already good enough for any buyer. On the other hand, I believe in out-performing the norm especially when it doesn't require much effort.

We decided to contact 2-3 agents; a well-known agent within the foreigners' market, another respected one for the quality of their portfolio and maybe one more with a number of branches across the city.

This morning, an agent from our second choice came to view the apartment. Their office on Las Heras, Recoleta, looks swish by Buenos Aires' standard so we were expecting their service to match their image. The agent was presentable; Guillermo greeted her down stairs and I welcomed her in our entrance hall. However, she didn't introduce herself when I shook her hands. Neither Guillermo nor I received her business card or any brochure of the firm.

Anyway, we walked her through all the rooms and explained what we have improved on. I even offered her a photocopy of the floor plan with measurements. She looked around, made notes; there was no discussion of the average price per square metre in the area, recent sales in the area, nothing. Then she left. The only encouragements we received from her were that the building was impressive and our apartment beautiful.

I, on the other hand, was not impressed; Guillermo was amused by how poor the service was. Since he offers a rather popular course on marketing and negotiation skills, specifically for real estate agents, he was glad to have picked up useful teaching materials from this experience. Maybe the agents in this city save their professionalism exclusively for the buyers; we are certainly hoping, for the buyers' sake, that is the case.

One down, two to go; I am now even more interested to see if the self-proclaimed expert in the foreigners' market would be any better. Our friends had their house valued by this firm the other week; the valuation was so high that it shocked them into seeking a second opinion.

In their case, they were told of an average price per square metre for the area but no adjustments were made with consideration for the quality of the specifications or number of bedrooms, etc. In reality, a 1 bedroom house maybe more or less attractive than a 3 bedroom house of the same size and therefore, has a different price per square metre. Or, am I just being crazily logical?

I've very recently developed certain food aversions; I apologise that it has, unfortunately, extended to the point of not wanting to think about food so the recipe section will have to go on gardening leave until my recovery. Sorry folks.

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