December 14, 2015

Is the Rent Really Negotiable or Bait and Switch? Renting in Cuenca Ecuador

As you know we like to report our observations and experiences of what it’s like to live in Cuenca Ecuador. We simply love to give out details so newcomers can be made aware of and know what to expect in certain situations. Recently we have noticed a pattern emerging in the rental market in Cuenca Ecuador.
 

Rental Ads Says Negotiable
 

In Ecuador many ads say “negotiable”, which means the price is not set and you can negotiate with the landlord/real estate agent for a better/fairer price.
 

And, just like in the U.S when something says negotiable it usually means the price is already too high to begin with.
Here in Cuenca you still can negotiate even when an ad doesn’t say it’s negotiable and THAT is why we find it odd when an ad says “negotiable” and then it turns out that  it's really not.
 

Recently we have come across ads that say “negotiable” and when you negotiate for a lower price it’s not really negotiable after all. We call this back in North America “bait and switch”.  
 

Bait and Switch Definition
 

It’s false advertising, plain and simple. They bait the person in with whatever product or service that is being sold (in this case, home rental) and once the person is involved and wanting the product, they switch price or don’t do what the ad says.
 

1. A fraudulent advertising claim or sales offer for a product or service that is not available or not for sale at the stated price, made with the intention of luring customers who are then offered something else or forced to spend more money to get the same thing.
 

2. A deception based on a false claim or enticement that proves to be disappointing.
 

Source:  The Free Dictionary
 

Here’s how it’s played out in a nutshell. Both of these examples happened to us recently with two separate real estate companies in Cuenca.
 

Example 1:  The rental ad says $500 negotiable. We call the advertisement.  When we get out there we like the place and are prepared to negotiate. We negotiate the price to $450 and the landlord brings up a condo/aliquot fee not mentioned in the ad for $50.  Do you see what’s happening here? The monthly rent still comes out to be $500.  

We’re not done yet.
 

Example 2: The rental ad says $600 negotiable. When we get out there we like the place and are prepared to negotiate. We negotiate the price to $$550 and the landlord brings up a condo/aliquot fee not mentioned in the ad for $50, plus the rent is $600 not negotiable, so the rent comes out to be $650 but the ad read $600 negotiable!

uh? 

Why Rental Ads Say “Negotiable” When It’s Not?
 

1. It gets more people to call the ad – the word “negotiable” brings in a much larger call-in for the rental than if it didn’t say negotiable. Perhaps they are hoping that someone (a gringo) will just take the price and not care to negotiate.
 

2. It is negotiable for the locals but not for the gringos.
 

3. By not mentioning the aliquot fee perhaps they think that if the ad says negotiable and you negotiate the rental price that you will not balk at the aliquot fee when they bring it up.
 

4. The real estate agent/owner knows they don’t have to call you back. Many times we negotiate a price and you never hear back from them but the house or apartment is still on the Internet for rent. What’s up with that? They wait it out and take the best price, which might take weeks, and there’s nothing wrong with that except for the fact you’re putting people in the wings and they might like to look at other rentals. 

5. Playing on your emotions. They think that once you come all the way out to look at the apartment/house you will fall in love with it and won't care to negotiate or care about price.
 

Gringos Fear of Loss
 

And then you have the retiree who thinks it’s the only house or apartment they will like in ALL of Cuenca and so they are willing to pay anything. What they don’t realize is that in Cuenca, there’s lots of fish in the sea, and there is always a better price, if you’re not in a hurry.
 

When we put our emotional heart and soul into a place, we often think “it’s the one”, but that is our emotions talking, not our senses. In Latin American countries you sometimes have to be willing to walk away from getting trampled on; that’s all there is to it.
 

Something to Ponder
 

Have you ever thought about how the Ecuadorian real estate people were getting along financially before all of us gringos came along willing to pay two and three times as much as the locals?
 

In 2010 all the houses and apartments were $200 to $400 dollars? That was about five years ago. Five years ago in a building in gringoland you could rent a furnished 2/2 for $300 (local rate). Now, try $650 to $800 (gringo rate)!   

What has changed in that building to make the rents and condo fees higher? Absolutely nothing, but the building is getting older and needs more repairs, paint, updates, etc.  
-- Cuenca Ecuador apartment rentals located in a gringolandia building they call "luxury" --
Where’s the luxury we keep hearing about? The furniture in the first photo is cheap, uncomfortable and low to the floor. Hope you’re short legged.
 

The Ecuadorians were doing just fine renting to their own people and then we come along and they become insatiable! I wonder if they will negotiate. Our $250 dollar per month house is nicer than that.
 

Until we write again… 

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We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!

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