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Of estate agents and care-takers

TORN APART with BOYD PHIRI
FINDING a house to rent anywhere in the city can be a tedious and harrowing task, not to talk of running the risk of falling prey to devious real estate agents.
Given the high housing shortage in our cities, you have to spend days, months even years looking for your dream home, which is within your budget.
In the process of looking for your dream house you bump into a real estate agent standing next to a makeshift stall with pictures of houses pinned on a notice board outside.
But think twice before engaging one of them – I don’t mean to scare you – I just want you to be prepared for the unpleasant experience that might arise if the process doesn’t go the way you wanted.
My fear is that at some point you would want to kill someone, especially the real estate agent if he turns out to be not so real.
Real estate agents can be very useful when it comes to house hunting. They roam the streets in every township scanning wall fences for notices of houses on rent. They do countless mileage eroding the heels of their shoes just to find a house.
Once they have collected enough data on houses up for rent, they go back to their makeshift stalls and display the information to unsuspecting clients usually inflating the figures to remain with some ‘change’ when the deal is sealed.
When a real estate agent calls you to inform you about a vacant house, live room for doubt, you would discover that what he is trying to get is a commission before he shows you the house.
If you are really desperate as a potential tenant, he would ask you to view one house, where you find the one purported to be moving out in two weeks-time is lying on the sofa in the living room, watching football.
Trust me, if there is anything more discouraging to a potential tenant than seeing the one moving out still stuck in a house, it is the realisation that the estate agent will have demanded viewing fee of K50 or more from you.
The real estate agent may eventually claim that the owner of the house has decided to give it a new coat of paint and dig a pit, in which to throw rubbish before he rents it to someone else.
You wonder how many warlords – sorry landlords nowadays care if you want a clean environment or not.  But not every landlord is bad. There are many who care about their tenants getting the best service.
In order to avoid the inconvenience of falling prey to bogus real estate agents when looking for property to rent, most of the people nowadays are building their own houses.
At least, once and for all, you run away from the endless task of house hunting and devious estate agents who think they have the divine right to cash in on the housing shortage.
One of my colleagues, I would call bana Muso, recently moved to her new home in Kwamwena in Chamba Valley, Lusaka. She tells me she has forgotten the pain she went through having to deal with bogus estate agents as a tenant in Lusaka’s Chelstone township.
But being the first one to have moved to a new place, with most houses still under construction there, the problem she faces is coming from hordes of caretakers in the neighborhood.
As their masters come once in a while to look at progress at their building sites and their welfare, some of these caretakers have turned bana Muso into United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
In others words most of the caretakers flock to bana Muso’s house to beg for things like salt, tomatoes, mealie meal, even sugar as they wait for their masters to replenish their stocks at the monthend.
When you think that you are making the smartest move to get away from all kinds of problems, you realise that everywhere you go there are people who come to give you a dose of the blues.
This can be more agonising than chasing a real estate agent for information about a house on rent. It’s a cycle of despair.
Next time you decide to look for a house to rent make sure the real estate agent you engage is real.
bjboydphiri@yahoo.com

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