First thought after relocation: be aware of estate agents!

It’s been a while since the last time I wrote something, but I think I have a pretty good excuse!

The last 2-3 weeks have been craaaaaazy! What I did?
Well, first of all I resigned from my job, second..I left Switzerland and relocated to London (as I am sure you have already figured out from the title!).

Getting things -properly- done in such a short time has been a challenge..this was not the first time I relocated from one country to another, but really..leaving Switzerland is just incredibly hard! Well, not hard, but if you will ever have to do that, then be prepared to fill in A LOT of forms and documents! I think I will write a whatToDoWhenYouLeaveSwitzerland post at some point, and I hope it will be helpful to someone out there.

Anyway, after almost three weeks we are almost settled down. I say almost because we had a bit of a rough start!
When we arrived we had a studio booked for one week which was great because it gave us the time to look for a proper flat. We booked it through HomeTrip which I think is an amazing website, I suggest you to spend 10-15 minutes on it and I am sure you will like it! The studio itself was not too bad, cozy and quite new..I was just a bit disappointed because it was not super clean!

As I said we gave ourselves one week to find a more permanent place..which considering the huge house offer you have in London is absolutely feasible!
We spent the first day in town house hunting and we were so proud of ourselves because in the evening we came back home with an holding contract signed with an agency for a great flat.
Yes, the flat was great and the estate agent was even more great in convincing us in taking that flat…yes, we have been absolutely brainwashed and when we left his office we were even thinking “OMG, he’s so professional and so good, we have been so lucky”.

Unfortunately that was only apparent luck! Let me tell you how things really went.

We were sitting in a Starbucks, browsing the flat’s section on Gumtree when we came across an advert for a flat that really sounded great. I immediately called the number on the advert to set a view. First of all the advert was listed as “private”, but no, it was an agency instead (I have later found out that 90% of ads listed as private belongs to agencies in the reality!)..anyway the guy was really friendly and told me that that particular flat was already taken (again, I have then realised that this is a very common technique for agencies..advertise the cool flat and then showing you the crappy one) but he had another great flat and suggested to meet up in his office and that he would have driven us there.

In my ingenuity and still confused by all the relocation related mess, I thought “how nice”..and I went to the meeting full of hopes and with a very good feeling…I guess that this was an excellent example of women’s sixth sense’s big, massive fail!

We arrived to the office on time and had to wait something like 15/20 mins because the agent was with a costumer (technique #3)..when he was eventually free he came to us, introduces in an extremely pleasant way and walked us to his car..and this is when his brainwashing attitude started. I know, it’s a sales role, so presentation and communication are key skills, but that was really too much!

Anyway, we eventually arrived to the flat, the guy talked so much that we litterally didn’t realised how much he drove, furthermore he kept saying “it’s just 5 mins away” – yes sure, then why are you driving us there rather than just walking? When we arrived to the flat, I admit it, it was cool..newly decorated and very spacious.
When we pointed out there was mould around the windows he blamed it on the previous tenants saying that this is caused to the fact they never opened the windows..the worst thing is that we trusted him! I mean, seriously? We normally are smart guys, how did we let him fool us in this way?

After all the bla bla bla about how great was the flat, the location – he assured me several times that was a super safe area – and how many other people would have came to see it in that afternoon, we were completely convinced that we had to go and sign the contract.

We went back to the office and basically we signed this “holding contract” in which was stated that we had to pay 1000£ and the agency would have kept the flat for us and started the references check process and suggested us as new tenants to the landlord. If the landlord refused us, we would have lost part of the 1000£ to cover admin cost, if we would have withdrawn our application, we would have lost all of them. Now, how can a honest agency have this unfair kind of contract? And how can two relatively smart people accept to sign it? Well, I don’t know..but we did!

Even after that we were very excited and were really looking forward to moving in the new flat..until..the following night we were out and quite close to that area and we thought of going to see how it looked like at night.

That was the best idea ever as it actually turned out one of the worst experience I have ever had. The area was all but safe! A lot of dodgy people around! It was relatively early, it was no later than 9pm, but the only people you could see in the streets were suspicious looking men in the corners of the street, no women, no families, only men.
That’s not all..once arrived in from of our flat, there was an awful smell of meat coming from the butchery which was right under the bedrooms windows. The air was almost unbreathable!  We were shocked!

We came back home incredibly sad and with the awful feeling of having been scammed! We then started browsing the net and found a lot of bad reviews for this agency and this made us even more pissed off.

The next day we went back to the office, claiming our money back (because in the meantime we had already paid 6 week deposit + one month rent) and the guy turned into an incredibly different person.

Fortunately we managed to get most of the money back and “only” lost those 1000£..that was a shocking experience! We still wonder how we let this guy convince us to take that flat and give them all that money. I tell you they are REALLY good in selling their properties, in brainwashing and confusing you with all their nice talks! BE AWARE! Never trust agencies!

Fortunately we had then found another nice flat in a nicer and safer area, no agencies involved and a (so far) nice landlord.