International Apartment Hunting 101 Part III: Private vs. Agent

It’s time to continue my blog series on Apartment hunting in Austria. I apologize for the long hiatus, but in the mean time we found an apartment and well; it’s quite the undertaking to get moved around here. I’ll talk about that in another post but let me talk about something that you should consider way before you move, when you first start looking into an apartment.
Here in Austria we you can use a real-estate agent to help you find a rental property. This may sound strange to many of you, but renting is so much more common here and what are the real-estate agents to do? Of course, agents don’t do it for nothing, and they can really add to the expense of finding an apartment. Most apartments here require a hefty deposit up front, usually at least 3 months Kaltmiete or flat rent (without utilities or building costs). Agents usually charge another 3 months flat rent in Provision (realtor’s fee) so going with an agent can cost you 7 months’ rent up-front! Most if not all of that you will never see again (landlords are notorious here for not getting your deposit back to you-we are still waiting on ours, in fact). It’s much cheaper, then, to find an apartment through a private individual. The downside is that private offerings are much more rare and since you are likely not dealing with someone who is a real-estate professional. This means that you are subject to their schedule when it comes to viewing the apartment and much of the time this means that they will book multiple showings at a time. This gives the potential landlord a huge psychological advantage when it comes to any negotiations because group showings tend to have an auction-like atmosphere. The first one we showed up to there were at least 4 other couples there and we were the only one with a small child. It starts getting really hard to be objective in your evaluation as you start hearing others in the group getting excited about certain features in the apartment. The place we finally settled on was a private place but the landlord owns a number of apartments and we were the only ones viewing the place at the time. It was a great experience and we have a really good relationship with our landlord.

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