Why you won’t land a good accommodation deal without the right real estate agent. Иван popular insagram blogger @guga_usa
The concept of home goes far beyond four walls and a roof over your head. To most people, home is a place where you can heal and center yourself, both mentally and physically.
Making sure that you can find, buy and keep that house or apartment of your dreams is the job of a real estate agent.
So, how do you actually go about leasing or buying property in the US without falling into the many traps of this tough business? We asked this and other questions to Ivan from the GUGA USA LLC team, a company that offers an end-to-end real estate service package in Florida including renting, buying and selling real estate both in up-and-coming and established neighborhoods, mortgages for foreign citizens, commercial leasing and concierge services.
Besides, GUGA USA LLC provides end-to-end rental services and support for new landlords. They will also take full accountability for finding tenants, managing the property and making sure your documents get approved by the association. All you need to do is sign some paperwork and open up a bank account for collecting rent payments.
- Let’s picture a scenario. I have just landed in the US and need a place to stay. As a real estate agent, how would you help me? Should I have gotten my accommodation sorted out before boarding the plane?
- I would definitely not recommend looking for accommodation on the day of your arrival. If that’s the case, your only option is to check into a hotel. To make sure you can find the right place to live, start looking for a real estate agent at least three months before the move.
- Why should I start the process three months in advance?
- The proper legal process of finding accommodation involves several stages. The first one is collecting relevant data: how many people are going to be living together, your budget and specific preferences such as whether you’d like to rent a house or an apartment. Then, we lock in on the neighborhood and look at the available options based on the number of tenants. For example, a one-bedroom apartment can’t legally accommodate more than two people, for a two-bedroom apartment the limit is three people etc. Besides that, every landlord has their own requirements and if you don’t fit those requirements, you won’t be able to move in.
The second stage is putting together a portfolio of housing options you can then choose from. We can also provide property video footage upon request. If you decide to move on with a certain option, we verify that the property is vacant, contact the landlord and negotiate the best price for you. For example, if an apartment is priced at $5000, we can make an offer for $4800. The landlord can give a flat-out rejection or might concede on the price and you’ll save $50-$100.
The third stage is signing the contract and making a security deposit. The final step is clearing paperwork with the association (a third party that verifies legal compliance on the landlord’s end). After we submit the document package, there is a waiting period that usually takes between two weeks and a month. As soon as your documents are approved, you’re all set for the move! To recap, the entire process takes about 1-2 months on average.
– Would I need to follow the same procedure if I were already in the US?
– Yes. You’d probably need to stay in a hotel while searching for a quick accommodation option in the process. However, it’s hard to find good housing when you’re under time constraints.
– Where can I find a real estate agent?
– You can contact us @guga_usa on Instagram if you’re looking for accommodation in Florida. If you’re considering other states, look on a real estate rental website. Leave an application on a property that caught your interest and a real estate agent will soon get in touch with you. One downside is that you cannot predict who your agent will turn out to be. They can be Hispanic, African, American, Russian etc. If you speak fluent English, this won’t be an issue for you. If not, that’s just one small snag to be aware of.
– Have you ever had cases where a client would first come to you and then make a direct deal with the landlord cutting you out of the process?
– Yes, but there are laws in place here in the US that grant you as a tenant certain protections. In short, it’s in your best interest to do everything the legal way. People from Eastern Europe tend to bypass the law. They often want to make a direct agreement with the landlord in hopes of getting a better deal and saving money. But that often backfires. If you have just the verbal agreement with the landlord and no relevant paperwork, you can be scammed or cheated at any time and you won’t have any recourse.
I’ve seen these things happen with my own eyes. We find a client who then disappears. After a while, you get a message “Thanks, we’ve already settled everything ourselves.” The landlord or “a friend of the landlord’s” lets them move in, they pay a security deposit and then all hell breaks loose. Since there is no legal contract, there is no legal protection and you, the tenant, have no rights. We then find out that our former client got evicted and the security deposit wasn’t returned to them. That’s not even the worst-case scenario. We’ve had incidents in Miami when people paid the landlord directly and weren’t allowed onto the property. The landlord called the police on them and had them kicked out. That’s why it’s very important to have the law on your side and work with a vetted real estate agent who will make sure everything is done the right way.
– What’s better in your view as a professional – to rent housing or to be a homeowner?
– This is a nuanced question because the real estate business is very complex. If you simplify the issue, I’d say renting is better in that it’s way easier. You end up paying roughly the same money as you do if you’re a homeowner but you’re not tied to one location and can move around more freely.
However, if you have expert knowledge of the real estate market, you can find really good homeownership and investment deals. One lucrative option is to buy a good property and rent it out generating passive income. But you really need to be an expert to know which property to buy.
Professional vetted real estate agents know the market, the legislation and specific rules which is crucial for making clever investments. I know people who bought an apartment for renting it out only to find out that renting is prohibited for the first two years of property ownership by the building’s rules. They lost money on that because they were stuck paying bills on a piece of property that was generating zero income.
Here’s another story: a friend of mine bought a house for $5 000 000. The deal went smoothly, everything was looking good. A month later, it turned out there were some strange noises in the house. They called animal control and discovered that the entire house was being eaten by termites. The insects had completely wrecked the house from the inside.
We’ve been working in Florida for a long time now and make sure to check every house for termites. My friend just had back luck with the agent.
– So what about that termite-eaten house?
– Now the owners have to spend a ton of money to drive out the insects and it’s unclear who will win the battle for the house – them or the termites.
The termites aren’t the only hidden danger. There are loads of things to watch out for if you’re new to the market. Things that can easily cost you a fortune. To make sure your investment plans don’t fall flat, you need knowledgeable people around who will help you navigate each specific market.
– What if I want to buy a lot of land and build my own home?
– In order to obtain planning permission, you need to get a ton of paperwork done. And you will have to hire a licensed construction team to build the house. Again, it’s easier to hire a company that specializes in construction services.
– Is it better to live in a house or in an apartment? Granted that New York is full of skyscrapers so an apartment is a more obvious choice for a New Yorker although Americans prefer both houses and apartments for different reasons. Well, to put it simply, are you pro-house or pro-apartment? I’d love to know both your professional and personal opinion.
– We’ve lived in both houses and apartments. Now, we’re planning to move to a house. Both have their pros and cons you see. The ideal case is to have a house and an apartment and move around between the two.
However, if you need to choose one, you have to assess your priorities. For example, is it important for you to live within walking distance of major amenities? We live in an apartment 150 miles from the ocean which is also close to many big shops. Do you know how much an ocean house can cost? A month of rent will probably cost you $30-50.
A house provides freedom – you have more outdoor space which can be a priority for some people. For example, when I came to the US, I opted for a house because I wanted to live the “American dream” life. After a while, I realized that living in an apartment would make more sense.
– Commuting was a real pain. We never had time to go out and enjoy the city life either. Now, that we’ve been living in an apartment for quite some time, my wife and I are beginning to miss that freedom again and want to move into a house. We’re even down for long commutes! (laughs)
– Can you buy real estate in the US without citizenship?
– Sure you can. You can even buy it online while continuing to live in another country. All paperwork can be e-signed. If you’re planning to acquire property for renting it out, we can manage the logistics and help you generate passive income.
– Can you buy property with bitcoin?
– Some deals accept bitcoins. Many landlords want to be paid in bitcoin too. And you can close the deal remotely.
You can and should invest in real estate because then you will be generating income in reliable US dollars. The real estate market is on a continuous rise. Florida is the new California and buying property there will yield exponential return in 10-15 years.
If you’re interested in buying real estate, contact me on Instagram @guga_usa. We will find the right property for you to invest in and make money off of. Or we can help you find a home that you will really fall in love with.