Property Management Disaster
Before I start, I wanted to tell you that I've read all the submissions about people hiring real estate agents to show them property in and around Bangkok, and the impending disasters that took place. So I have been previously warned. Unfortunately, I decided to try it out for myself here in Chiang Mai.
Last week I called a well-known real estate / property management company here in Chiang Mai, and asked if they could take me around and show me some nice houses or condos to buy. I gave them the specifics of my search….a small 3-bedroom house preferably with a pool, or a large modern 2-bedroom condo with pool, sauna, and exercise facilities. And I gave them my price range.
A couple days later they emailed photos of 5 houses and 6 condos from their website, and asked if I was interested in any of them. I returned their email, and told them I'd be interested in seeing all of them.
Four days later, they returned my email. We agreed to meet the very next day at their office, and an agent would take me to see the properties.
When I arrived at the prescribed time, 2 PM, the agent was sitting in front of her computer trying to find directions to the houses and condos she was suppose to be taking me to. I waited 15 minutes before she was finished. I know this is Thailand, but shouldn't she have had that information already prepared before I arrived?
OK, then we get in her car, drive around for an HOUR, before she pulls over to the side of the road to call the owner of the first house for directions. She is lost. Oh, I forgot to tell you that of the 5 houses they emailed me, there was only 1 house available to be seen. After about 3 U-turns, she stops the car again and calls the home owner the 2nd time. The owner says she'll rendezvous with us at the local Lotus Express store where she'll escort us to her property. So my agent says OK, and pulls in front of the Lotus Express to wait. 10 minutes later, she gets a call from the owner, and it turns out my agent is in front of the wrong Lotus Express. Holy Christ!! At which point I told her not to worry. Maybe it's best if we just go look at condos.
Now her original 6 condos have evaporated to just 3, and two of them are in the same complex. Half an hour later, with another U-turn, she arrives at the first condo. An enormous new development that is definitely selling itself as hi-so heaven. It's a two bedroom condo, but only 50 sq. meters. I remember telling the agency that I was specifically interested in large condos. I'm sorry, but I'd have trouble brushing my teeth in that condo. If I slept in the master bedroom, my feet would be resting on the pillows of the 2nd bedroom. I'm not that big, and Thais are not that small. If this was a hotel room, midgets would be checking out and demanding their money back. If my wife and I lived there, we'd be at each other's throats literally (even more than we are already). I mean our throats would be neck and neck. I could go on, but you probably get the picture.
So we head off to the 2nd condo complex. Another 30 minutes in her car. I forgot to tell you, that while she was driving, she continuously received phone calls from her friends, or co-workers, or clients. And EVERY SINGLE TIME SHE GOT A CALL (about ten in all), she PULLED OVER TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, STOPPED THE CAR, and TALKED ON THE PHONE!! Even on the side of a superhighway. I guess she couldn't talk and drive at the same time.
I remember one moment as we trundled along the superhighway, she looked out her window and said, "Hey, that's the exit we should have taken." After about 5 kilometers, we did see an opportunity to make a U-turn, and thankfully she took it. But, after her exit, she didn't fully make the turn, and went in a different direction, telling me that this road would eventually get us to the same place. I thought, yeah, after we circumnavigate the globe.
Ok, the 2nd condo was a little off the beaten path. I mean a rice paddy or two doesn't deter me from getting to and from a potential abode. But 100 rice paddies and two king cobra farms later, I was beginning to feel like this modern condo complex was just a tad out of the way.
When we arrived, my agent had trouble finding the condo's main office and showroom, even though there was a sign every 20 feet pointing the way with bright red arrows. Voila, she sees the office, and we park. I felt like I had just won the national lottery.
My agent described for me the two separate condos we were supposed to see. Both 2-bedrooms, each a different size. I imagined we'd be escorted to each empty condo, and I could take a look. Why was I not surprised when that didn't happen. Two nice ladies at the front desk offered to show us their showroom. Unfortunately, they hadn't finished building the condos yet, but we could see the mock up unit. I was pleased with that, until they told me that the mock up unit was only a one-bedroom. I was not interested in seeing a one-bedroom. Hey, why waste more time? I figured someone by now cured cancer and put a space colony on the planet Neptune.
We were then escorted to the main office where a manager gave me the specs of the 2-bedroom condos which would be eventually be finished (in her own words), "in only 13 months". But sadly for me, all but one of the 7 units, one on each floor, were sold. The exception being the lowest condo on the 2nd floor. The floor closest to the neighboring king cobra farm. I figure if one king cobra lived in the first condo I saw, it would be too small for even him, and when he brushed his teeth in the morning he'd be in my 2nd floor window trying to floss. Perhaps we should find another property I told her.
Now, before we go back to her office, she starts to brainstorm. A tsunami or typhoon would cause less damage than this storm, but I played along anyway. Call me a foolish optimist. She decides to take me to a section of town where there are nice tree-lined streets and beautiful homes. Some of them are in my price range. She even tells me that she recently sold one there, specifically in my exact price range. Unfortunately, when I asked her to show me the house she sold, she couldn't find it. The streets go in all different directions and Google Maps hasn't invented a search engine large enough for that task.
I don't know how she found her way back to her office. But I do remember on the way home she said that she had lived in Chiang Mai all of her 28 years, and told me how easy it was to find her way around the entire city.
Just as other submission writers described their female agents in Bangkok, this woman was easy on the eyes, and tried her best. Before I got out of the car, I told her that if I ever got divorced I'd call her. She almost jumped out of her chair at my wrongly interpreted remarks. To settle her fluster, I told her that if I ever got divorced, I'd need a one-bedroom condo, not a two, and she could be my agent for that search.
All in all it was a forgettable day. And it reminded me to take your words more seriously. Do your own research and your own legwork, and you'll be amply rewarded with sanity.
All the best.
Yep, this is exactly the sort of run around I suffered in Bangkok!