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Apartment rental trends in BJ


cdn_in_bj

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For those of you that have looked for apartments in BJ recently, have you noticed a big jump in rents this year? I am currently looking for a new apartment, albeit in different areas from where I'm currently living which makes a direct comparison difficult, but my impression is that rents have indeed gone up quite a bit.

From the "Your accomodation in China" thread, venture160 was able to find two apartments in the past year with "great views" of CBD and very close to Guo Mao for only 2500 RMB/month. I'm not sure how he does or did it, as based on my research this is what one-bedroom apartments at Sihui Dong are currently going for.

So this leads to another question - maybe I'm just poor at bargaining? I've been doing my searching through agents as it's hard to find legit postings from private individuals on the housing websites (it seems that 99% of the "private" ads online are in fact fake ads placed by agents). And several of the apartments that I've looked at are actually ones that the agencies have already "rented" from the landlords, so presumably the agencies are getting a good deal on these apartments. However, they are not willing to go down more than 100 RMB on these types of apartments. They say they are only making 200 RMB/month, which I don't entirely believe - it seems to be a lot of risk for them to be taking on as they are losing money while the apartment sits empty.

Anyhow, I've learned a few things from this experience so far:

1) Rental units in old buildings are usually shite. If you're picky about cleanliness and/or interior decoration/renovations, it's best to save your time and limit your searches to newer buildings ('newer' meaning less than 5 years old). Of course you could luck out and find a nicely furnished unit in an older building that was previously occupied by the landlord, but these seem to be rare.

2) When the agent says that a unit has "deluxe furnishings", it means that it has wooden flooring. And often dirty flooring at that.

3) If the type of apartment described in #1 and #2 above happens to be in a location that is convenient in terms of transportation (proximity to subway stations, bus routes, etc.), it will command a lot of money.

4) Apart from the usual furnishings and appliances, don't forget to check that the bed has a Western-style mattress. That is, unless you enjoy sleeping on a hard board.

5) If you go to different branches of the same agency, you may get taken to see the same apartment twice as the branches get their listings from a centralized database. It's best to keep track of the building name and apartment number of the one's you've already looked at.

6) You may also get taken to see an apartment that has already been rented out - hopefully the new tenants haven't moved in yet! This happens when the listing doesn't get properly updated in the database. There's not much you can do about this.

7) If you're picky like I am, you may quickly start thinking that it'd be easier just to buy an apartment!

By the way, I should mention that I'm going through the larger local agents and not the ones that are targetted towards foreigners/expats.

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Probably you could get a half year's rental for old prices still. The surge in prices is due to the Olympics, so if you find anybody willing to rent out for half a year, that should not be a factor. By what I heard, one year leases (and thus extending through the Olympics) went up by around 20% in August.

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Probably you could get a half year's rental for old prices still. The surge in prices is due to the Olympics, so if you find anybody willing to rent out for half a year, that should not be a factor. By what I heard, one year leases (and thus extending through the Olympics) went up by around 20% in August.

I wondered about this in other threads and it's interesting to see it taking effect. However, I haven't seen too much evidence of this myself, apart from the higher rents. In fact, all agencies except for one did not like the idea of short-term leases. The one exception told me he didn't mind because it means they get to collect the agency fee again from the next renter. Maybe it's because the areas and types of apartments I'm looking at aren't near the venues nor are they as appealing to most foreigners. Or maybe it's because these agencies haven't clued in yet.

Olympic Greed Fever is a big factor. My landlord demanded a 25% increase starting next month, but when I offered to move out in July, he agreed to maintain the current price.

But how can he raise prices on you when you've signed a lease? Or are you past the original lease period, and are living month-month now?

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Just to followup, I found a 1-bedroom in Xuanwu district. It's not quite walking distance to work like I'd originally planned, but in warmer weather it should be an easy bike ride. The apartment is well-furnished and in one of the nicer developments in the area, so I'm really looking forward to moving in. The only downside is that the heating isn't centralized - it has individually controlled/paid natural gas heating. But I'm not home during the day so it shouldn't get too expensive, plus this way is actually better for the environment. :)

As for price, I was able to "bargain" by a few hundred. I was actually surprised by how much they were willing to go down, but I later found out that we (my new landlords and myself) had been "played" by the agency (Century 21). They had agreed to the lower price because the agency told them that with the lower rent I would pick up the agency fee and they wouldn't have to pay it (in effect, no net change to them), even though the agency had told me from the start that I'd be paying the fee. The agency's tactics leave a bit to be desired, but it's a good deal for me so I don't have much to complain about. Plus my new landlords seem really good so far (well-educated, working class couple just a bit older than me), so maybe this is also a chance to make some new friends.

I'll update the accomodation thread once I get settled in.

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