Guest writer Georgian Marcu covers the topic of expats as potential tenants or home buyers in Romania.
Many of the over 9,000 foreigners who worked in Romania last year – according to the official data published by the Ministry of Labor – constitute an important part of the clientele for the residential market.
From the perspective of the real estate market, the expats that end up working in Romania fall in two main categories: those who work in a multinational company, occupying middle or top management positions and those who arrive on Romanian territory as entrepreneurs.
In general, expats working for multinationals have their rent paid by their employers, and the procedure of identifying the appropriate accommodation for the employees is conducted by internal departments or by companies specializing in relocation.
But a new trend has developed steadily, especially among those in middle management, in which expats have negotiated a relocation package under which they do the leg-work in finding and paying for accommodation. This task of finding an apartment falls on each and every one of them.
Areas preferred by expats
The first criterion in selecting an appropriate property is its location. It is normal for areas in which communities of expats live to be highly sought after, where individuals can feel “like home” in the company of people of the same nationality. The northern area of Bucharest, where probably more than 70 percent of expatriates who work in the Romanian capital city live, is the first choice for many a foreigner.
The most popular area remains however Herastrau, where more than half of the properties located in the area are rented. Many of the expats are active people, because of which the Herastrau and Northern Highway area is preferred as it is in close proximity to Herastrau Park, where they can jog in the morning, go out with their children or have dinner in some of the highly rated cafes and restaurants.
Aviatorilor, Kiseleff and Primaverii are areas chosen by those with a larger budget. Likewise, Dorobanti is highly sought after by this type of client.
Around 20 percent of expats, especially the younger ones, chose the central area due to its proximity to Bucharest’s night life.
How many rooms do expats want?
For real estate properties, the majority prefer apartments with three rooms, considering that in most cases they are relocated to Romania with their families, in new buildings, completely decorated and furnished, which give them a feeling of a warm and hospitable home.
Those working for embassies highly differentiate themselves from the rest as they show more of an interest for apartments located in older villas with antique furnishings and fittings.
Those who take over positions of top management prefer penthouse apartments, which have generous terraces and offer a breathtaking view. The individuals who want a villa chose the Baneasa-Pipera area and wish for the accommodation facility to be part of a residential complex where they can benefit from administrative services, a gym or a pool, as well as other facilities offered in the particular location. However, most importantly, they seek the sense of community which is offered in such locations.
How does an expat negotiate?
The negotiations with expats differ according to the category in which they fall. If the rent is covered by the employer, then the negotiations are simple as the people in charge of the negotiations are familiar with the market, the prices and the facilities, and the discussion is carried on between professionals and it is based on real arguments.
The negotiation is over both price and facilities – from objects of furniture and decorations all the way through to satellite TV which can capture particular channels that are available in home countries.
On the other hand, if the potential tenant pays his rent by himself, the negotiation is a much more difficult process, the tenant being inclined on a regular basis to opt for a smaller price and to make some concessions on facilities offered both by the apartment and the area.
Time is money
The time it takes expats to decide on renting an apartment is much smaller compared to Romanian citizens, as they have a limited time frame in which to choose their future homes.
The difference however between the two is that expats are very well informed, going through an initial property selection by comparing the pictures and descriptions of the real estate properties received via e-mail. There are instances in which the employer sends an individual to see a property a week before the potential tenant arrives in the country so that he or she can limit the offers selected initially.
We’d recommend expats to be attentive when it comes to the collateral expenses of renting a real estate property, such as the maintenance taxes, utility costs, fees charged by the residential complex, among others, which, leaving aside the fact that the services are more or less the same, can fluctuate by as much as 100 percent between two comparable residential compounds.
The distance between the accommodation facility and the work place, or kindergartens and schools (for those who arrive with their families) is very important because the traffic in Bucharest is in no way different than that of other European capital cities.
Last but not least, another sensible aspect, but much more complicated to evaluate by the potential tenant without the help of the consultant, refers to the “quality of the landlord” and his availability when it comes to conducting various repairs in case certain maintenance problems appear in the apartment. In effect, nothing is more important.
Georgian Marcu, Guest Writer
Georgian Marcu is a real estate consultant and owner of Green Angels – the angels of real estate. he has been working in real estate for the last seven years, and started Green Angels five years ago. He specializes in real estate investments and luxury properties.