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Finding Living Arrangements in Taipei through Real Estate Agents?

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Finding Living Arrangements in Taipei through Real Estate Agents

As an expat coming to Taiwan, locating, negotiating, and signing the contract for a new apartment can be a daunting experience. InterNations member and Taipei Ambassador Sophie explains why hiring a real estate agent can prove to be the best way to find a place to live.

For expats in Taiwan, the apartment search apartment can be one of the most stressful experiences in the beginning of your new adventure living in this beautiful country. Due to its convenient nature, many people turn to the internet to find a place to live.

There are a variety of online sources that can give you a clear perspective of your choices. Certain websites, such as 591.com.tw, are dedicated entirely to renting apartments and business properties. It’s a great website, due to a complete selection of functions, but it’s only available in Mandarin Chinese and doesn’t seem to target the expat market.

Other online sources such as Tealit.com and Craigslist are in English and a good source to find information online. However, they don’t take any responsibility for bad experiences one might have with any seedy landlords or other problems that may occur when relying on these online sources. It happens more often nowadays that expats ask me, as Ambassador of InterNations Taipei, for urgent help on problems they had with their Taiwanese landlords.

The main problems expats have with their landlords originate from finding the apartment online by themselves, thinking that using a real estate agent could cost them an arm and leg. However, they do not know that in Taiwan, landlords are one of the most difficult people to deal with mainly because of language barriers. It is highly recommended that if you are an expat coming to Taiwan looking for housing, you budget in either a good translator or hire an English-speaking agent. I can’t emphasize enough that the smoothest way to find the perfect place to live is to use the services of a licensed real estate agency. Trust me, this will save you an immense amount of trouble later.

There are many reasons for this, so it’s most important that you find an agency that has a clear and consistent track record with helping expats. Several expats that I know have testified to have had a great experience with UR House Realty, for instance, who post their listings on urhouse.com.tw.

Tips on Using a Real Estate Agent in Taipei

If you are in a hurry, the best way to find your dream accommodation is to use a real estate agent. Using a real estate agent to help you will most likely be the fastest way to find suitable housing.

In Taiwan, real estate agents are licensed and therefore motivated to provide a good service, not wanting to have any negative action taken against them by the customer, landlord, or even the government. Unlike using a friend to help you rent a place to live, a real estate agent has it in their best interest to not only make the current transaction smooth, but also open up the possibility of doing future transactions.

In addition to expat housing rentals, a real estate agent can also help with property management, as well as office and commercial property rentals, and have a clearer understanding of the legal environment here in Taiwan. Most agents will have a lot of experience and a number of years and clients under their belt. They're also better at screening qualified landlords to make sure that their customers get the best possible experience while accepting an expat package. 

Language Ability and Barriers

When looking for a real estate agent, first make sure that they can communicate well in the English language. An English-speaking agent will not only have good communication skills but also experience in dealing with expats. You won't find this type of service with most of the people you find on the online community such as 591 or Tealit. unfortunately. 

Inexperience with Expats

Beware that sometimes when a real estate agency doesn't have much experience dealing with expats, problems may arise. Sometimes misunderstandings lead to the agent jumping to conclusions about what the expat needs or wants in a living arrangement. Furthermore, a top-down hierarchical business structure can exist, rarely delegating decision-making responsibility to agents of the company and always requiring permission from the boss to make decisions.

In some cases, the boss may change the agents or try to take over a case themselves from a perspective of pride or greed. You want to make sure that the agent you choose is going to be there for the entire transaction and not disappear or be removed from your situation. It can be quite heartbreaking when you are passed on to someone else in the organization who is not as qualified or as motivated to help you as the initial agent that caught your attention in business.

Conclusion

Whether an agency wants to please a landlord more than the renter or the agent just doesn’t understand the prospective tenant’s needs and expectations, a bad renting experience can affect an expat in more ways than just a bad night sleep. It can also have negative effects on one’s family relations, employment, and even health. In order to protect all aspects of your life abroad, the use of a licensed English-speaking rental agent is highly recommended.


Frederik Sørensen

"As I mainly use InterNations for business, it was just overwhelming to get so many international contacts working in Taipei as well."

Maggy Roswick

"When a friend invited me to InterNations my first thought was: This is exactly what I as an expat woman was searching for."

Global Expat Guide