Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Hungarian "rental agreement".

The never-ending saga that is finding a flat in Budapest entered its newest chapter today.
We met again with an agent for a property we liked in the city center.  The purpose of the second meeting was to determine if we did, in fact, like the apartment and what “terms” we would be interested to agree upon.

This was a unique case in the fact that we were essentially re-furnishing the entire flat with our requests.  Previously, the flat was used as a short-term rental as found on places like  The quality level of its previous furnishings were "city-outdated-functional".  

To begin, one must have a formal “rental agreement” with all of the details worked out.  In this case, it wasn’t as simply as making an offer for the existing flat.  We had to request exactly what furniture we would like, at what price we are willing to pay, and how to include the pesky “community fees” (similar to HOA) that are the bane of our existence as they always add yet another layer of expenses to the negotiation.

After a brief walk-through, we decided we wanted to move forward with making an offer.  Thus, began the painstaking inventory of moving from room to room to take note of what we wanted to remove, and what we wanted to replace.  All of this was entered into the “rental agreement” — imagine a short encyclopedia, as we all know Fancy can be quite detailed-oriented.  In this instance, it was very helpful.

We gave them our offer, what we would pay, what items we requested (which was about 1/3 of the entire IKEA store), repainting the entire flat, minor repairs, thorough cleaning, etc. Now we wait to see if the owner accepts.  If they accept, they will begin the purchases.

What made us uncomfortable with this surly Hungarian property manager was his insistence — that we must submit our security deposit with the offer (essentially, one month’s rent).  In Budapest, this process is claimed to be normal.  After verifying with our agent that ‘yes’ it is required to submit this refundable security deposit when submitting an offer, we warily agreed.

Next order of business was to get that cash money.  Because we didn’t feel comfortable walking around the streets of Budapest with hundreds of thousands of Hungarian forint (HUF) in our pockets, we showed up with nothing.  Mr. Sales Property Manager needed to print out our agreement and I was suckered into riding with him to the bank.

One failed bank withdrawal, one 6-minute collect call to Bank of America from my Hungarian cell phone (thankfully they accept charges) to sort out the matter, another ride to another bank with Mr. Sales Property Manager who is now growing quite skeptical about us having the funds.  We arrive at another intersection that literally has a bank on each of it’s four corners — people can be quite persistent when they want your money.

His face said “Check Mate” when we arrived at the bank-loaded intersection.  I needed to make two separate withdrawals in order to get the cash (I’m sure their are some red flags being set off in the Bank of America office somewhere).  Next thing I know, I’m walking around Budapest with multiple hundreds of thousands of HUF in my pocket.  I resisted the urge to through it all up in the air and “make it rain” and instead returned to the flat to quickly empty my pockets of said cash. We are hundred-thousandaires no longer.

If the terms are all accepted, we have a tentative move-in date of Tuesday, August 19th.  This would be a mere 19 days after landing in Budapest, but surely feels quite a bit longer than that, mainly due to our heat and lack of AC, but my ire is mainly directed to the fact that Bathtubs are evil and our doomsday short-term flat’s effect were lingering.

The wily Hungarian we negotiated with for our flat.
He represented the owner and was a sly little character. I would return the favor by making him take us on multiple trips to IKEA.

Yet another agent on the right.  Fancy on the left.  Ironing out all the finer points of the contract negotiations.  Se he can run off to drive me to an ATM and print out the contract from some random little print shop. I guess it's legit?

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