I recently moved to Mumbai from Bengaluru. Along with my family – wife and a 2-year old kid. This post is about my hunt for a flat on rent without brokerage.
Since I had stayed for a short while in Mumbai earlier, I knew a thing or two about the city – geography, commute, office belts etc.
But since more than 6 years had elapsed, I knew the city would have changed drastically. Plus relocating with a family adds many more dynamics vs staying as a bachelor.
I had rented a 3 BHK in Bengaluru which was more than enough for a small family. In Mumbai, for a family of this size, people would consider 1 BHK or at max 2 BHK.
Since we had experienced the comfort of a larger house during COVID lockdown, we thought of finding a good deal for a 3 BHK or even 4 BHK. Saving brokerage on top of it was a further difficult thing to do.
While I had failed to secure a flat on rent without paying brokerage during my earlier stay in Goregaon in Mumbai, I was hopeful to save it this time. With much more classified ads posted online than before, I was determined to make direct contact with owners.
Determine area/locality in advance
We had closed on Thane and its vicinity as a preferred place to stay on the basis of office commute, schools and connectivity. Opinions from friends based out of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane areas also helped in zeroing down.
So when I came down to Mumbai from Bengaluru to start my apartment hunt, my efforts to secure a flat were focussed towards Thane area. I saved a lot of time that I would have otherwise spent roaming from one location to another. Say from Mulund to Thane or from Vashi to Thane if I would not have closed on any one area.
Tip 1: Try closing on a location in advance on the basis of online research.
Since classified ads have limited shelf life, there is no point contacting an apartment owner a month before or even 1 to 2 weeks before you start your actual hunt on ground. You can start contacting 2 to 3 days before to gather some leads.
Do note that if you choose hot residential belts like Goregaon, Kandivali, Mulund, Thane, Airoli, Vashi etc, there are high chances of finding good supply of flats on rent without brokerage.
How to contact Owners?
I could connect directly with owners via Facebook Marketplace. A fast growing platform for rental classifieds – Facebook Marketplace has a lot of authentic property ads posted by owners.
Tip 2: Use Facebook Marketplace to connect with property owners.
Realty portals for brokers/owners
Portals like Housing / 99Acres have limited quality ads posted by owners. Most of the quality ads are posted by Brokers who are controlling the entire rental market for Mumbai and suburbs.
Good thing about these ads is that you get instant access to Brokers via WhatsApp chat integration that these portals have.
By talking to Brokers for free, you can extract information about any locality, good Builders and projects in a locality, amenities, ongoing rent, security deposit, terms & conditions like annual rent increment, lock-in period, process to complete rental agreement if you close on a property and much more. Brokers are kind enough to share this information as this is what they do day in and day out with prospective clients.
All this information is crucial as moving into a property on rent in Mumbai involves a lot of steps about which I will discuss later in this post. So a lot of this information provided by Brokers for free can prepare you mentally in advance.
You can also use filters on these portals to check ads by owners. Many of the ads however are posted by brokers disguised as owners.
Some of the top Builders in Mumbai are: Lodha, Kalpatru, Runwal, JP Infra, Wadhwa.
Tip 3: Use Brokers to extract crucial information about rental market
Realty portal exclusively for owners
NoBroker is one such platform exclusively for owners. They charge a small fee from tenants and owners for making a connection.
But NoBroker has a limited number of good listings in Mumbai. Most of the owners who post their ads on NoBroker are the ones who failed to get Broker interest for their property.
Tip 4: Use portals like NoBroker to further build lead pipeline of owners
Now let’s understand why Brokers play such an important role in Mumbai real estate.
Why do Brokers dominate in Mumbai?
- Since majority of the Brokers in Mumbai do not charge owners any brokerage, they get access to prime properties with a promise of high rent and good tenants. This leads to a strong concentration of all good properties in the hands of Brokers.
- Many of the owners in Mumbai stay far away from their properties in either same city or another city or could be also NRIs. Showing property to prospective tenants becomes difficult. They opt for brokers to carry letting out.
- The process of creating a rental agreement in Mumbai involves lot of running around, owners prefer dealing with a Broker who can facilitate end to end service. With COVID, property registration process has become online in Mumbai but far from any owner/tenant to do completely on their own.
- Rental agreement also involves biometric collection and Aadhaar authentication for all the involved parties – owners, tenants and broker(if involved). This requires a fingerprint scanner device. Brokers have these devices at their offices.
- Police intimation is an additional step to check background information about a tenant. While this process is online for some police stations, many police stations are still doing it offline. And there are also some who are moving back from online to offline.
- Housing society has to be provided both rental agreement and police intimation documents for getting clearance from the society when a new tenant moves in.
- Mumbai’s realty market is much more organized and professional than any other Indian city. Just like the US where most of the real estate transactions are facilitated via professional realty firms.
How to shortlist properties?
If you are visiting multiple societies and multiple flats in same society, it might be hard to remember all the aspects about the property. You can maintain notes when you visit any flat/society.
Following checklist can be handy to note important details. I used this during my property hunt and it turned out to be very helpful to shortlist and compare my options towards the end.
How to negotiate on rent & close deal?
My initial 3 days went in exploring leads from Facebook Marketplace and NoBroker and visiting properties of these owners. In between, I also took help from a Broker to check out flats in a society where I could not get direct access to owners. I shortlisted 5 properties and spent final 1 day negotiating with owners. I closed on a property where I found maximum value for money.
Tip 5: Try doing negotiations towards the end of a month. High chances of getting a good deal as owners contemplate getting rent starting the following month.
Creating Rental Agreement
Paid entire security deposit to the owner and hired NoBroker for rental agreement service. They are very professional and carry out the lengthy process of property registration swiftly. Realty portal Housing also provides this service. Have not used them though.
Tip 6: Since rental agreement process doesn’t start unless you have paid entire security deposit, be very sure about closing any open point of discussions with the Owner before the transaction.
You should also discuss with your Owner about the scenario when the agreement fails to get executed, security deposit will be refunded in full without any deduction.
Please note that rent payment in Mumbai is made in advance at the start of the month for the following month unlike at the end of the month like in other cities such as Bengaluru. So transfer of security deposit is enough to execute rental agreement. Rent payment you are supposed to do only when you get possession of the flat.
Tip 7: Do not pay advance rent unless you get possession of flat.
NoBroker also facilitates property registration between parties who may not be located in the same city. In my case, my wife was still in Bengaluru and we wanted to get the agreement done in both our names.
She provided her biometric to the NoBroker team in Bengaluru and the Owner and I provided my biometric from Mumbai. They charge additional Extra Visit fees for this service. You can see more details in the above breakup.
This way I closed on my property hunt in 4 days.
Challenges in property hunt
-If you do not have a broker, running around from one property to another could be a challenge. To overcome this, you can get an idea about the locality in advance and plan your visits accordingly. Keep societies that are nearby in one half of a day and second half for a different location.
-You can easily commute via Autos in Mumbai for short distances instead of booking cabs or travelling via public transport like local. Saves a lot of time. Can also rent 2 or 4-wheelers. I would advise not to as parking it every time you visit a society could be a challenge and can waste a lot of your time.
-You have to keep sufficient time for negotiations if you want a good deal. I got lucky to do it in a day. Else 2-3 days would be required for good negotiation. Owners in Mumbai do not drop rent or other terms and conditions easily.
-You can spend nights at any economical hotel, AirBnB or at a friend’s place during your property hunt. You may also get good deals on EaseMyTrip.
-Start your day early (by 8 am or so) to make good use of your day.
-You can pay marginal fees to portals like NoBroker to extract more owner leads. This will be much less than 1 month brokerage which Brokers charge.
-Even if you are going with a Broker, negotiate for 50-60% of rent as brokerage instead of 1 full month.
-Confirm with your Broker that whether the brokerage charged will be one time or recurring every year. Many Brokers demand annual brokerage for as long as you stay.
-Check with your Owner if there are additional monthly or annual charges to be paid apart from rent like clubhouse charges, festival charges, water charges, parking charges etc. In the document shared above, you can find complete checklist of all the heads that you should confirm.
-Discuss about key monetary aspects like annual rent increment percent, agreement duration, security deposit, any deductions from security deposit while vacating flat, lock-in period of agreement amongst others. 5-10% is standard rent increment in Mumbai and 3 to 12 months lock-in is also imposed in most of the transactions. Also the government stamp duty varies depending on duration of your agreement. For a 1-year agreement it will be less and for a 2-year agreement it will more and so on.
-Owners do a 50% split for rental agreement charges. Do confirm if your Owner is agreeing to it instead of you bearing full charges.
-Do note that the lock-in period usually entails payment of complete rent for the unfinished duration of agreement. So negotiate to keep it as low as possible as you will end up paying a very high price should you need to change apartment in adverse circumstances.
-Do check if the flat is child safe if you have children. Most of the projects in Mumbai that have balcony in floor plan will have it open and the Owner has to be convinced for making the property child safe by covering it with hard nets or grills. They are not very welcoming about it. A good view from balcony comes at a premium in Mumbai and Owners do not want to forego it for future tenants.
-Push for closure of rental agreement and property registration soon after initial verbal closure as owners can sometimes be nasty and change their mind for a better deal even after taking token amount.
-Do not go to a property unless Owner or Broker confirms time for meeting. Since Mumbai’s real estate is very professional and organized, people value time a lot. Even Brokers are very particular about punctuality. Save your time by only turning up when an appointment is confirmed.
-Don’t pay token amount without verifying ownership details with society manager or security guard of the project.
-Don’t contact multiple Brokers dealing in same society thinking you might get a better deal. Brokers are internally connected and any negotiation you do with one Broker is cascaded to all Brokers by default. Deal with any one Broker for a society if you have to.
Hope this post will help you find a good flat/apartment on rent in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane and other adjoining areas without any brokerage. With rapid development in Mumbai, the city is bound to see supply of good projects available on rent on a constant basis.
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