The realities of furniture standards & tastes in Romania…

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At White Mountain, we manage a portfolio of property for a range of clients from low budget to high end luxury. I thought for the benefit of all, I should share my own experiences with you.

I’ve written this as a general market feedback for all of our clients, as it affects you and I both, as owners of rental property as useful feedback, & to sense the pulse as if you lived here & not to just criticize your choices. Owners tend to do their best to furnish their places in the little time they have when in Romania, or with the resources & contacts we have. Sometimes, our choices are limited by the items available in Praktika, Carrefour & so forth, & by the spare 27 minutes we have before rushing off to the airport again. Been there, done that 20 times, so I do sympathize.

We, as owners of Romanian property, have equipped our places in a variety of standards, from zero content to truly luxurious.
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Latest Key example: My own apartment in Bucharest is sparsely furnished with a 100% tiled floor & very little contents and after more than 10 viewings in the last 2 weeks, most viewers agree I should put laminate flooring down, add a dining table and chairs, change the horrible pink curtains, add a coffee table etc. I will reluctantly spend 2200e now to make one tenant happy, but if I had done this before during my 5 years of ownership, all 10 might have taken it, and more relevantly, I could have perhaps increased the rent a long time ago, had a better & longer term tenant still. Instead, I waited until it was ‘broken’ & my last low-paying tenant had to go as I can’t afford any longer to accept the low rent I let him pay for a year. I would have had my pick of tenants this past 2 weeks, where now I am forced to take the one who has 6 months’ rent to give me, so i have enough funds to raise its standards. This is my apartment now that I have refreshed & furnished it. http://www.youtube.com/user/whitemountain2009#p/u/7/vkV1K2WLQJc
I understand funds are not always available and this rental venture should be seen as a business, not sinking any unnecessary money, especially if it cant be proved to bring returns, but equally, we all need to consider carefully in under-providing or poorly furnishing, because the real losers are only the owners

I have a furnished a flat in Stratford upon Avon, to a nice level and after 5 years, I still have the same tenant bringing in 625gbp per month. I haven’t been there myself since 2007 !!!. If the Polish tenant left, it would rent quickly. There is a lot to be said for removing every negative feature of a place so making it instantly desirable. Not least of which is a stress free ownership.

My team have done 2 viewings today in your properties, but most readers of this page are potentially guilty, myself included (as I too have several places here) in some way or other of similar sins and it is to our loss that we do this

In one apartment today, a Finnish client with a good budget liked the old town apartment, light rooms, spacious, but found a kitchen that he described as “very low quality and of poor taste, not suitable for his monthly outlay” (light wood with blue inserts, with chrome and plastic-capped handles that you can only find in Romania!) and whilst it had an oven, it only had twin-burner electric hob rather than a full hob that made the proportions look strange and made the landlord look like he was cutting corners. It makes the would-be tenant assume he will have difficulty with the landlord in financial or repair matters if he is showing this trait at the start of the relationship.

In the 2nd apartment, which had leather sofas, with a very historic and country styling (the apartment is a cutting edge design), and the 2nd and 3rd bedrooms had low quality (by UK standards) cube-like sofa beds made of chipboard, solid foam and fabric wrapped. The UK owner freely admits he went by the advice of his local helper, herself a lovely lady and very accommodating, but as a result the apartment can only attract low-income local tenants, or foreigner low-budget tenants, neither of which is ideal for smooth tenancy. With almost total certainty, the end of that kind of tenancy will end with unpaid bills and evidence of lack of property respect in some form.

I see furniture sometimes chosen by local friends for foreigners apartments, to help foreigners out, that can best be described as terrible if placed in your home country. Taste levels here start from nil to acceptable, and rarely match western standards in general.

Therefore, if relying on local opinions, you will get local tastes. If appealing to foreigners, some like me will put up with anything because they are so taken in by Romania, but those who are not smitten, have normal western standards & those clients, your ideal clients, have the same tastes as you do at home. Never forget the Romanian saying ‘i’m too poor to buy cheap thing’s’, meaning it will need replacing through fashion or breakage.

 

If you need to raise the standard of your place, one idea, is to make a scrap book from catalogs, magazines, Google images etc of how you would like it to look, & then gradually, work away at raising to that standard. In general, good furniture can be sold for 40 to 70% of its original price when you need to sell it off. If you don’t have a plan, you will get misled & end up with a mixture of good & bad, instantly reducing your potential tenant pool.

 

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