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Thread: Renting a house in Santo Domingo...bizzare & frustrating..

  1. #11
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    Default ongoing saga

    Just thought you all might want to follow along on this adventure.

    I live in what I consider to be the absolute best neighborhood in town... between the Presidential Palace and the US Embassy, one block from the Malecon, within walking distance of the Zona. Everything I need ... the little supermarket, the pharmacies, the Clinic Abreu, the English Library, the swimming pool at the Melia, good delis and restaurants ... all within walking distance. It is a mixed neighborhood which means that there are commercial buildings as well as residences and lots of street life,,, with colmados and schools and all that. We are on the same electric grid as the Palace so rarely have blackouts. Twenty years ago or so, this was THE place... Gazcue.. as in "that could happen,, even in Gazcue.

    To my mind, it is THE only place to live in the Capital since you can easily live here without a car and the streets are a pleasure with lots of old trees and great architecture.

    Now there is a lot of new construction here. Because is zoned historic, the only Torres are on the main avenues, Bolivar and George Washington and Independencia. Otherwise construction is limited to 5 floors. But there are lots of cute new condo developments that are under the 5 floors. The new smart ones have elevators... knowing that after 60 years of age, a third floor walk up looses its charm. Most of these are completely sold before construction. And lots of the people who are buying are Dominicans who are buying for investment, knowing that foreigners are always coming in.

    So what is happening here is that the owners of all the older buildings are seeing the $800-$1500 rentals in the new buildings and asking for big rent increases and jacking up their prices. They think WOW I can get more for this...

    My neighbor upstairs, also an American, is being asked for a 20% rent increase on a $600 month unfurnished fourth floor walkup. So he is going to move.

    But most of the older buildings here have not been maintained. The wiring is old. The plumbing is old. Few owners did any of the needed upgrades. If they did any work at all, they most likely replaced dark floor tiles with white ones... instead of replacing the bathroom or upgrading the electric. Lots of the buildings have one or two owners who do not pay the maintenance.

    Lots .. ok MOST of the buildings have garbage in front of them because the owners are too cheap to keep buying the trash barrels which get stolen.

    My dog, Iko, and I are going to look at every single possible apartment in the hood and report.

    Today we saw a two bedroom unfurnished, two blocks from Gomez, down from Nicholas Pension. Third floor. Walk up. Enclosed with two parking spaces. AC split in two bedrooms. Bad interior architecture in that the dining area was bigger than the living room. Balcony looked out over a parking lot and Maximo Gomez. FEO. Asking price, US$1000 value, IMHO, $750.
    There is a brand new Torre right across the street. My bet is that all of the apartments in the Torre will be rented before this apartment // which is only about 3 years old.... will rent for $1000.

    This is still Santo Domingo. Not NYC!!

  2. #12
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    I, on the other hand, usually end up getting the short end of the stick...Not really. Just lately I have had some issues with my renters of the little place out back...One guy wanted to find the "love of his life" and soon found out how difficult it was with no Spanish, very dark skin, and no income....so he left without warning..., Next up, a guy in the call center business (risky, yes) who didn't want a lease, "my word is worth more than any paper"...yeah, so yesterday he announced that he was leaving, but since he has no lease, no receipts, I think I will kick his butt out if I get a new renter, and there are three lined up already....yes, it is listed on DR1....(Which is a great driver of leads)....And a few want it for a month, but we need stability....

    In another part of the Hovel, we rent out two bedrooms for shorter terms. and just recently two guys-one a former guest, great guy--came down..They knew ahead of time that there was no A/C, just fans...But one of them got all upset...and so they took off....10 days, no $$..So I talked to my friend who was sort of embarrassed, and he send a bit...d@mn nice, and he knows he always has a friend...

    However, what I am seeing with annie and the other folks seems like pure abuse of confidence....

    Two sides to most things, I guess...that must be why we have two ears--no excuse for abuse.

    HB

  3. #13
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    Default perhaps you are too soft?

    [QUOTE=Hillbilly;798886]I, on the other hand, usually end up getting the short end of the stick...Not really. Just lately I have had some issues with my renters of the little place out back...One guy wanted to find the "love of his life" and soon found out how difficult it was with no Spanish, very dark skin, and no income....so he left without warning..., Next up, a guy in the call center business (risky, yes) who didn't want a lease, "my word is worth more than any paper"...yeah, so yesterday he announced that he was leaving, but since he has no lease, no receipts, I think I will kick his butt out if I get a new renter, and there are three lined up already....yes, it is listed on DR1....(Which is a great driver of leads)....And a few want it for a month, but we need stability....

    In another part of the Hovel, we rent out two bedrooms for shorter terms. and just recently two guys-one a former guest, great guy--came down..They knew ahead of time that there was no A/C, just fans...But one of them got all upset...and so they took off....10 days, no $$..So I talked to my friend who was sort of embarrassed, and he send a bit...d@mn nice, and he knows he always has a friend...

    However, what I am seeing with annie and the other folks seems like pure abuse of confidence....
    HB[/QUOTE

    Hillbilly, I think that perhaps you are TOO trusting! bless your heart...

    Here in the Capital you simply cannot get an apartment without at least two or three months rent, AND a fiador.. then you sign the lease and if you do not pay, your fiador is liable. The fiador must be Dominican or have a cedula and have some property of worth that can be attached.

    So how is it that you let people stay for 10 days without paying you anything?

    I used to run a vacation cabin rental in the mountains, and also had rental property in the States... Part of your DUTY as a landlord is to make sure that the tenant, or renter, does not get an opportunity to use your apartment without paying for it.

    Just business... Next time get the money UP FRONT...

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mason3000 View Post
    So, my wife and I moved here from another Latin American country and need to rent a house in Santo Domingo.

    To say the experience was less than pleasurable would be an understatement and we're fluent in the language, culture and Real Estate. I can only imagine what this process must be like for novices.

    These 'agents'.....

    1) Are masters of the "Bait 'n' Switch". We looked online, found some places that looked promising and made some calls. The first three houses in a row were 'bait 'n' switches'. For anyone who doesn't know what that means it's where we saw one house at one price online but then we were taken to a different house (i.e. crappier) at a different price (i.e. higher).
    2) Would ask us what area we wanted to live in. Once we told them they would then "Get back to us shortly" as they scrambled out into that neighborhood calling any for rent sign they could find. So, essentially none had inventory, they'd just show us houses we'd already seen at jacked up prices, adjusted for their hard earned commissions.
    3) Invariable would ask our maximum price. Once we'd tell them what it was, guess what? We never saw a house again for less than that price. In fact we looked at a couple houses and then had other agents show us those same houses later and wouldn't you know it, the prices had gone up to our maximum price overnight!

    Then we found a house that has good bones, good location, good price but it needs some work. We were sent to speak to a 'Realtor' who treated us like criminals. First the "Realtor' wanted the obligatory 3 months (Which is a scam and needs to be fixed, btw) payment/deposit. I asked them for a receipt in their company's S.A. as with that perhaps we have SOME recourse when they screw us out of the deposit. We also agreed to do a photo inventory of the house with them keeping one set and us keeping one set in case anyone's memory became faded a couple years down the line. Then, using that deposit money of course they'll make the repairs we requested. My hands are tied here, so after putting together the document detailing every repair we want done we'll have them sign it and hope they do.

    I noted how busy and important they seemed and offered to supervise the repairs personally so as to cut their work load which they happily accepted. Fact is, you can't let someone who doesn't know what 'nice' is supervise because their idea of 'nice' and mine are likely far different.

    Then we hit a wall. They wanted a 'Garante' (Sp?), which is in fact a co-signer and must be from Santo Domingo. At that point I asked them why they needed a co-signer if they already have two months deposit and I'd paid their runner for them? Of course there is no reason, it's just the master/slave relationship they're accustomed to and they're going to milk the 'master' role as much/long as possible.

    I explained to them that we'd been here 10 days. I asked how exactly foreigners were to be expected to have a co-signer? They could not answer. They told me foreigners are "High risk" and not thought of highly here. I opened a copy of "Hoy" that was sitting on a table in the office and showed them a bunch of rental ads that read "Apartment for FOREIGNERS", "House to rent, FOREIGNERS ONLY", etc. etc. etc. I explained that foreigners generally pay their bills and are in fact highly sought after as renters according to everyone else.

    I offered a copy of my passport, my residency in another country, letters of recommendation from impressive people inthe country we're moving from, a copy of my bank account in that country proving I'm solid and said if those things did not work I MIGHT be able to get a 'Garante' from another part of the country, just not from Santo Domingo.

    They didn't care and weren't budging. I finally said "Look, you're a Real Estate agent and you stand to gain a commission, I have money in my pocket and your client has had their house sit vacant for 7 months, let's quit screwing around and do business.". Nope, no deal.

    Then I suggested I speak directly to the owner. They gave me the phone number and I thought to myself "This is just an example of what happens when middlemen get involved and muck up a deal. Let me speak to the owner and she'll understand. Nope.

    The owner in the USA said he'd had a bad experience with the last renter and he was a Dominican Politician (Well of course, duh!!! You don't rent to a politician, a judge, a lawyer or a General for that matter.), an ESTEEMED politician no less, lol. He then proceeded to tell me foreigners were high risk a well. I finally wondered "If he doesn't want another Dominican and he doesn't want a foreigner just who exactly DOES he want?"

    I wanted to tell these low-lives off so badly after being insulted by them but the fact of the matter is the house is a very good deal and I'm sick of looking/screwing around.

    Thank you all for letting me vent.
    Welcome to the 3rd world, This is why no matter what happens in DR it will always be backward. Houses sit vacant for years here because people are holding out for some unreasonable price and think they are good business men?????

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    The 3rd world was nothing new to me as I'd rented several places on the North Coast, as well as in several other Latin American countries over the past 20 years. What was new to me was the greedy, illogical and short sighted 4th world mentality of many of the self described "High Class" in Santo Domingo.

    After finding 4 houses and having all 4 fall through....(1) Fell through because we didn't have a 'garante' at the time, (ok lesson learned) 2) Fell through because our 'garante' is a judge and they didn't feel they could beat her in court (So they want a wealthy Dominican who's not connected, hmmm..) 3) Fell through because our 'garante' was from outside of Santo Domingo (Seems anal, but it's their call) 4) Fell through because our garante didn't have 3.5 million pesos in the bank (That's crazy. Who keeps 3.5 million pesos in a Dominican bank account?) we finally found an overpriced house in La Castellana where the owner simply had the vision to see we were solid prospects and skipped past most of the red tape.

    As Annie loves Gazcue (I do too but it doesn't work for me with 3 little kids) I love La Castellana. It's easily one of the safest neighborhoods (No bars on windows around here!) in the city and is a great location with the park on Nunez de Caceres s only two blocks away, 6 blocks from Jumbo Luperon, 9-10 blocks to Pricesmart, I've got easy access to both the 27th & JFK and I can be to meetings in the high traffic areas like Churchill in minutes, plus there's real access to restaurants and bars (The one area I disagree with Annie about Gazcue as I find it to be void of decent places to eat).

    That said the owner never made the repairs that were promised (Hard to believe, I know) and the place is way overpriced. We're in the process of moving to Altos de Los Rios which is more rough around the edges than La Castellana but we've found a brand new 3 story house in a gated community of only 4 houses. The other three houses have small children like we do so that's a plus for us as they can place together in the common area, there's a shared swimming pool, 24 hour security, the kitchen is as nice, modern and expansive as the kitchens in my own homes, three beds each w/ it's own bath and it has a third floor perfect for a professional office and expansive patio that we'll never be able to use all of but will serve nicely for my gym and a barbecue area.

    This new house is much nicer and is 50% of the Castellana house and it has space for my office so I'll save another 20 thousand pesos there as well.

    My advice for those looking to rent long term in Santo Domingo is If you're an ex-pat and speak Spanish A) find a well spoken and presentable Dominican to negotiate a fair price B) insist on paying in Pesos C) do not bring a Real Estate agent on board if you can help it. It's very tough to eliminate them altogether as the person renting will likely be using one but by not contacting one yourself you cut the BS down by 50% D) expect to spend at least a month looking E) do not rent anything until you've seen 15 places minimum because knowledge of the market is power.

  7. #16
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    Default another realtor, another #$%&&%

    I am beginning to feel sorry for the real estate agents here! First is the problem that there is no sort of exclusivity with listings, well, perhaps with a few residences.. and second, other realtors will not even tell her where the property is listed.

    That all being said, I agree now with Mason that it is foolish .. at least here in SD... to bring a realtor into it.

    I picked just one of the four I was speaking with. She was with Remax and seemed the most professional and courteous and knowledgeable of all. We were going to see three places, she said. She picked me up.. OK gorgeous Jeepta freezing AC but then she is on the cell all the time trying to get directions of where she is going, since clearly she has not seen the place before hand.

    Corner Bolivar one block from Maximo Gomez, Torre Vincini, plastered outside with for sale and for rent signs... About the noisiest corner I have seen. Inside, tiny kitchen (because only the maid will be cooking, right?) Tiny balcony.. even my plants will be crowded. horrible view. Good solid construction. No installed AC. No way to put in anything except split ACs, (would that be 3k for 3 rooms, right?) no cross ventilation at all. BUT YES,... we have the preciosa madera closets... We have the Mahagony closet doors... (endangered now, aren't they?)

    And NOISY... Well, that would not matter for most people, Realtor said, since they are out most of the day.

    Price $900

    Then we get into Jeepeta, call another realtor, wait 20 minutes for her to show up, only to learn that HER apartment is in the mismo building, but facing the avenue, not the street, EVEN louder... PRICE $1200.

    The Realtor gets on phone with third apartment, only to find that it is indeed a fourth floor walkup with no elevator.

    Back to house. Time gone... 1.5 hour...time in apartment.. 5 minutes.

    Realtor contrite. Says that next time she will indeed drive by the places first.. I say, well don't go to any trouble on my account because really, I am not even sure that I am going to move.

    And she says, no, I will. Because that is my job.

    duh

  8. #17
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    Default Venting feels good! Looking at things from a different perspective at times too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mason3000 View Post
    So, my wife and I moved here from another Latin American country and need to rent a house in Santo Domingo....
    ....
    Thank you all for letting me vent.

    OK, you vented and I hope it helped make you feel better.
    Welcome to the DR, just in case nobody did already .
    I too have lived in a different Latin American country and done business in a couple. They are all different, even Spanish is so different at times, some words seem out of this world, when traveling from one to the other country.
    So it goes, as you have come to experience with the business culture.
    The culture, the evolution and the issues are different. So is the education.

    As you may already know, the law is very protective of tenants in this country. Renting is a risk here, unless the landlord is connected to people who break arms and legs @ 50 Pesos a pop.
    Foreigners, well sure, everyone want DOLARES and assume that foreigners are full of those. But, lawyers and agents representing their landlord clients have lists longer than a roll of good ol' fax paper with stories of good looking foreigners who've showed up with fancy clothing, new car, new girl, new everything and a wallet apparently full of Dolares and subsequently ran into deep $hitt very quickly and skipped town, rent, alimony etc over night or just wound up found dead in their rental.
    Hence, the culture of asking for the first month, the last month and a month of security up front. I don't think that's so out of the world anyway. If it's an agent rental, first month goes to the agent in lieu of commission too. For that, the landlords expect to have "bought" a full year of worry free rental income. If the tenant skips bail... erm... town, the agents is sure as hell NOT going to refund the landlord his upfront commission. So, the landlord is usually advised by his legal representative to ask for a consignee who would be good for the remaining of the contract's term.

    Logic? I am surprised that after having lived in an other Latin American country you are still looking for logic. .
    Even banks, will ask you for one or several letters of recommendation from LOCAL business people when newcomers seek to open a bank account. When asked how one would possibly... sure they can't respond... but to repeat proudly that it is company policy. So, some go and ask who will extend a letter of recommendation, and tip... bring it back and say "voila"... nobody cares! Requisite fulfilled!
    You will soon learn that you are not to drive on a foreign driver license in this country for more than 90 days... You can apply for a DR driver license only after you have obtained (been issued, not just applied for) your DR residency (a process which can take anywhere from 6 months to a year or more!) even though the law says otherwise! Logic? Welcome to the DR!

    Finally, let me suggest the following, even though you mentioned you are well routined in Real Estate transactions.
    All deals here are to be handled like cattle deals; -Money for approved merchandise only-. What I am trying to say, don't expect a landlord here to comply with promises to repair, upgrade, adjust to your needs a dwelling AFTER you already paid him.

    In Santo Domingo, I think that your best option is to drive around and look for for rent and even for sale signs. Since you should be in command of the language, don't hesitate to stop in a neighborhood you like and talk to people, introduce yourself and make "friends"... lots of people know "things" in their neighborhood. Who knows, you might be offered something that wasn't even on the market.

    Check the Listing Diario you yourself mentioned if you aren't already doing that.


    Good luck! ... J-D.

  9. #18
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    Default Neither the OP nor

    "The 3rd world was nothing new to me as I'd rented several places on the North Coast, as well as in several other Latin American countries over the past 20 years. What was new to me was the greedy, illogical and short sighted 4th world mentality of many of the self described "High Class" in Santo Domingo."
    Mason 3000.


    --I are newbies here in the DR.

    Do you live in SD, JD? Have you tried to rent here?

    I appreciate your defense of landlords post and all.

    But really really really really really

    They are looking for very high rents here. 800, 900, 3500. 4000 dollars.... When you start dealing in that sort of money, then you should start to be able to access some international references, don't you think?

    I mean, we could pay for the call. We could give letters from banks. We could give them our FICA scores. We could do all sorts of things.

    But since the City is floating on a sea of Black Money, it does really put honest folks such as us (I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, Mason!) out of luck.

    The major complaint is that real estate agents are not doing the job that merits one month's rent.

    (The LANDLORDS do not do their work either, probably because of the rent control)

    DEFINITELY not.

    I was a licensed realtor for years. I know the work.

    But do you expect to earn a grand for keeping me cooling my heels in your jeepeta for an hour while you figure out where the #)&%(&?$W we were supposed to be going on our appointment?

    Is this really too much to ask?
    Last edited by mountainannie; 10-14-2009 at 06:40 PM. Reason: edit

  10. #19
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    Talking

    Hopefully just finished the most painful house search of my life.
    I saw around 30 apartments.
    I asked to see 2&3 bedroom apartments with various features I found necessary. I would double check with whomever was showing me the places before we set off to view the properties yet more than half the time they were showing me 1 bedroom places with none of what I requested - why? Do they really think that I would shove me, the nanny (yes I have a nanny ??!!!??) the baby and the wife in one bedroom?

    Yesterday we all split up and looked. We inevitably saw some of the same places and got asked for different rents. I was asked for more than double what my wife was asked in two cases. Neither of us are Dominican.
    Fair enough - they need to get what they can. But they were not even the slightest bit embarrassed when it was pointed out later.
    These are professionals.
    Eventually a Russian friend of my Romanian buddy found me a place. She is real estate agent. When I asked how much commission I needed to pay her she said none! The owner would pay her commission.
    I nearly fell out of her car! She had the perfect opportunity to scam more money and did not take it. When I pointed this out she said that it would not have been correct.
    She has been here for years but seems to have not been infected by the Dominican disease of ripping Gringos off. Amazing!
    If anybody needs a place on the south coast let me know and I shall put you in touch with her.

    It also seems that rental prices have not changed drastically over the last 3 years since I last looked for a place to live in the Dominican Republic.
    I was getting Pixxed off with it all but now I am happy.

    By tomorrow night I should be writing posts sitting on my sumptuous couch, plugged into my own internet box drinking cold Presidentes from my very own fridge.



    Viva Las Republicas - Romanian, Dominican and Russian.

  11. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainannie View Post
    "The 3rd world was nothing new to me as I'd rented several places on the North Coast, as well as in several other Latin American countries over the past 20 years. What was new to me was the greedy, illogical and short sighted 4th world mentality of many of the self described "High Class" in Santo Domingo."
    Mason 3000.


    --I are newbies here in the DR.

    Do you live in SD, JD? Have you tried to rent here?

    I appreciate your defense of landlords post and all.

    But really really really really really

    They are looking for very high rents here. 800, 900, 3500. 4000 dollars.... When you start dealing in that sort of money, then you should start to be able to access some international references, don't you think?

    I mean, we could pay for the call. We could give letters from banks. We could give them our FICA scores. We could do all sorts of things.

    But since the City is floating on a sea of Black Money, it does really put honest folks such as us (I am giving you the benefit of the doubt, Mason!) out of luck.

    The major complaint is that real estate agents are not doing the job that merits one month's rent.

    (The LANDLORDS do not do their work either, probably because of the rent control)

    DEFINITELY not.

    I was a licensed realtor for years. I know the work.

    But do you expect to earn a grand for keeping me cooling my heels in your jeepeta for an hour while you figure out where the #)&%(&?$W we were supposed to be going on our appointment?

    Is this really too much to ask?
    You will have to learn to deal with the fact that even among the self declared elite, education and thus professionalism is a seldom quality. This is a third world country, officially, with all it's little tilts and ticks... logic is not a typical trait.

    Many agents are not much more than people with a tie, a cell phone and access to a vehicle. There is no school, no exam... little professionalism. Even among many self declared expat "agents" there are only few which stand out as professionals who know how to really do the job.


    Prices? Ha. It's been my experience that the more underdeveloped a country the higher the prices. I remember a time when Lima (Peru) was one of the most expensive cities in the world. In the mid 90's, safe quality apartments in Guayaquil Ecuador could easily go for USD 4000.oo + per month! And the city was one of the most unsafe one at that time. You could rent an apartment in Zurich, Switzerland for less at that time!

    Renting is though in Santo Domingo? I wished we had the kind of offers you have here on the North Coast... and consider that Santo Domingo has somewhat which could be called an economy with real jobs and business which is not really the case here... and still, owners and would be landlords have hopes to get rents similar and above to what you quote for homes which have plenty of deficiencies in developments with issues and little offerings... so competition is still a foreign word to many.

    Anyway, I am sure you will eventually find something suitable. Just give it some time. Dominicans, are sometimes slow dealers, unless they are trying to con you.

    ... J-D.

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