Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Someone robbed our house!

I admit, that title is a bit misleading. No one stole anything from our house. Don't worry. However, someone did steal a potential new apartment from us!

We'd seen a dozen or so places and settled on a cozy two bedroom with nice new floors. Then, all of a sudden, completely out of nowhere, our realtor started texting me about seeing new places. My ability to read Chinese isn't that great, so at first I thought I'd mis-interpreted his messages. I wrote back that we really liked the place he showed us and want to sign a lease. After a volley of texts, it became clear that the landlord thought we'd be picky tenants and rented the place to someone else out from under our noses!

This doesn't sound like a huge problem, and wouldn't be, if our current lease didn't expire in seven days. Oh and if Veronica's thesis wasn't also due in seven days. Oh and if Veronica's sister (YAY JESSICA) and cousin (YAY ROX) weren't visiting this week. Oh and if we didn't have jobs and Chinese lessons and a thanksgiving dinner to cook. Plus packing .. oh man. We were screwed.

Or. So. We. Thought.

We met with our Realtor the day after he gave us the bad news and he showed us the perfect place; a better location and a better apartment for less money per month.

We managed some basic negotiations in Chinese ourself and signed a pre-lease deposit agreement and started to get super-excited.

I tend to be a "prepare for the worst case" sort of person, but things really fell into place on this one.

Before you read this and think that Veronica and my Chinese has gone from zero-to-sixty, it must be said that we wouldn't have been able to do much of this without the help of our friends Jared, Jen and Ray.

I did learn two lessons though that I think should apply for the US as well:
1: Always negotiate
2: Don't be TOO picky when you are busy always negotiating.

I wish people in the US tried to negotiate more. I was thoroughly bummed when Ari and I were trying to rent out our Manayunk House and not a single person who checked out the place tried to offer us less than we were asking. I was mainly bummed because it took us longer to rent the place than it would have if someone had tried to get us to drop the price to begin with. Bargaining is a way of life here and I think we could learn a lot from China on that. Isn't bargaining a great way of finding where the supply and demand curve meet? Sounds pretty market-friendly to me.