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Issues to Remind before House Hunting

I. Property Type and Ownership

Like other major metropolitan cities all around world, properties available in China include apartments and villas. There is one particular type of property that differentiates Shanghai from others which is called ¡°Lao Yang Fang¡± in Chinese or Old House in English. It is a type of historic building that was built during 1920-1940 and which is mainly located in the former French Concession (the center of town). Most of the Old House properties have been newly renovated with rather charming characters, however, the old water drainage system and electrical wires which are hidden in side of the house may cause some problems from time and time. Furthermore, the local environment could present itself as an adventure, the potential problems in terms of communication, safety, privacy and bugs will also make inconvenience to the life of those tenants. So if you are new in China or you have very little knowledge of Chinese living, please avoid choosing Lao Yang Fang as your first stay in China.

II. Ownership of Property

All properties for rent to the expats in China are owned by either individual landlords or developers. It is common that the prices for the same properties in the same compound may vary due to different ownership. Properties owned by individual landlords tend to cost 10-20% less than developer-owned properties. One reason is that individual landlords¡¯ properties¡¯ decoration & furniture are not as good as developers which usually are designed & decorated by professional people. Another reason is that individual landlords usually provide less services compared to the developers who have whole team providing 24 hour service to tenants.


Issues To Remind During Property Showing

Washer and Dryer In China It is quite common that the washing machine doesn¡¯t connect to hot water; the washing machine doesn¡¯t have a heating function and sometimes the dryer is not popular as Chinese usually hung the wet clothes out to dry. If you insist on having these facilities, then make it clear to your property consultant during your Lease Agreement negotiation.

Air conditioning The weather in Shanghai is fairly hot in Summer while quite cold in winter, especially there is no heating system in the buildings. So when you check the properties, make sure there is aircom in each room and the aircom system should have at least two functions: Cooling and Heating. Further more, you should make sure the Aircom power is strong enough especially in the living space to make sure it can really warm up the property during the cold winter time!!!

Dish Washers Very few Chinese people use dishwashers at home or leave any space in the kitchen for installing dishwashers since it is very cheap to use maid to wash all the dishes. Some landlords install disinfectors at the kitchen which look very similar as dishwashers!!! So when you check the kitchen, especially when you think that dishwasher is very important for you, check it carefully and make sure it is a real dishwasher!!!

Water Filter Never drink water from the taps unless you are informed by the relevant health authorities that the water is safe for drinking. Generally speaking, the water quality in China is not very high, in some areas, the water is not being well treated before it is being supplied to the public especially in the suburb of the city. So when you choose the property especially in those villa compounds, water filter is recommended.

Fly screen If you look for the property during the cooler seasons, you might not be aware of the mosquito issue. Mosquitoes are usually harmless but are definitely annoying in summer time. So make sure you request to install fly screens if your selected property is on lower floor or a garden villa.

Bed Mattresses In Chinese culture, sleep on the hard mattress is good to people¡¯s back and health. While in western culture, it is quite opposite! So if you are very concern of your sleep comfort, make sure that you will check the mattress and express your concern to our homejoy consultant who may be able to negotiate different mattress with the landlord.

¡°Black-out¡± Curtains Make sure all curtains in the bedrooms are fitted with black-out curtains to ensure that your rooms are completely dark in order to have a sound sleep.
Voltage The standard voltage in China is 220V, it is advised not bring any electrical appliances from your home country unless you have the similar Voltage system or correct transformer.
Internet Access If you require high-speed broadband internet access of more than 1M, you should inform your agent to negotiate with the landlord before signing the contract. Normal internet package provided by China Telecom only allows you one access to your computer in each property. If you want more internet accesses in different rooms an extra charge may be implemented.

International TV Channels Developer owned properties usually have international TV channels including HBO, CNN, etc, usually of a maximum 15 English Channels only. While those individual landlord owned properties usually don¡¯t have these TV channel. So nowadays most of the tenants even including those living in the developers¡¯ compounds will require to install a Satellite TV Dish which can receive more than 50 International TV channels. So far, there are two models of satellite dishes available on the market, one is called ¡°original version¡± which costs around RMB5,000 and yearly fee is RMB 2000. while the other one is ¡°pirated version¡± which costs around RMB1800 and no yearly fee is being needed. The reception of the original version is of a higher quality than the pirated version while the pirated one is always being cut due to bad weather and special government requests. So if your budget is allowed, make sure to request the landlord to install the Original One instead of Pirated One.

Double-glazed windows If you would like to choose an apartment that is close to main road or public area make sure the windrows facing the roads are installed with double-glazed protection to reduce the noise entering your home.

Property Facing Since the weather in Shanghai is not always very sunny and winter in Shanghai is very cold, people tend to choose the property that is south-facing in order to get more sun into the property. Also we do suggest you to visit the property during the day time which can easily help you to judge whether the property is bright enough or not.

Basement Basements provide you with excellent additional storage space or another place for children to play or even to set up a gym. However, basements may create a lot of problems if it is not properly isolated by the construction workers, such as water leakage and mold especially during Summer humid season. So if you choose the house with basement, it is better that you choose the house which have been rented out before or check it carefully to see whether there is any trace of water leakage happened before. Also remember to ask the landlord to provide dehumidifiers for the basement.

Beddings and Kitchen Utensils/Appliances Usually most of the properties owned by individual landlords do not provide beddings and Kitchen Utensils, such as pots, pans, forks, knives, etc. So if you decide to rent individual owned property, you have to consider either to bring them from your own country or negotiate to let your landlord to buy those items for you.

Issues to Know during the Property Showing

Price Quotation: Most of the people will feel surprised to find the rental prices are so different for the same type of property by different agents and most of them will feel quite confused whose quotation is correct. Here we would like to give you some points which can help you to analysis whether the price you get is correct or not?

1. What¡¯s included into the rental:
• Usually homejoy¡¯s consultants quote the rental in proposal covering management fee, club fee and tax fees, while some of the other agents will only quote net rental.

2. What factors will influence the rental:
• Different landlords: Every landlord will has his own expectation towards his properties.
• Different floor: Usually the higher the floor, the higher the price.
• Different decoration and furniture: the rental for nicely decorated and furnished property is definitely higher than the standard one.
• Different timing: Rental price will keep on changing due to supply and demand on the market.

3. What factors you can use to help you to negotiate good price:
• How many family Members will live in this property: Usually the less family No. the easier you can bargain the price.
• How soon you can start the Lease: Usually the sooner you can start the Lease the easier you can get the good price.
• How many additional requirements you ask towards the property: Usually the less requirements you have, the easier you can get the good price.
• How long your lease term is: Usually the longer the better as long as it is according to your company¡¯s housing policy.
• If you want to remove all existing furniture and put your own in the property, it will not help too much in terms of negotiating the rental.

Noise: If you are a sensitive person toward noise, the following properties we do not recommend you to consider:
• Brand new property: Since every individual landlord has their own time schedule to decorate their properties, so don¡¯t choose this kind of property unless you can be sure all your neighbor¡¯s decorations have been finished.

• Property with large open empty space in front: Usually large empty space in downtown will mean a new construction will be started, so don¡¯t be too excited when you choose the property with great open view and make sure to check your consultant what will happen in this area in the near future.

• Property facing the road: Since the isolation function of most property windows are not very good in china, so if you are sensitive of the noise, then try to avoid the property that is facing the road no matter it is main road or small road,

• Poisonous Smell: Quite a lot of individual landlords will use low quality paint or glue to decorate their properties, and quite a lot of expats are not aware of this until they move in and feel not very comfortable. So if you choose a newly decorated property, check with your consultant to see what brand of paint the landlord use to decorate this property.