From the Mouth of an NRI
If you’re an NRI living anywhere in the world and you own a house, land, apartment or any sort of property in India, I’m sure you’re facing trouble managing it. How am I so sure? Because I’ve been in the exact same situation you are in.
I enjoyed living in the US, but no amount of hamburgers and Coronas can erase the Indian in you. I was adamant on returning to India in a year or two. Property prices had just dropped in India at the time and I thought this was the perfect time to invest. I decided to buy a house and renovate it. Everything would be ready for me to move in when I returned and accommodation would be one less worry on my mind.
So I found a realtor who spoke to me, gauged my likes and dislikes and set about finding me my dream home. She sent across a few pictures and I saw this one house that I fell in love with and immediately made a down payment. I officially had bought my first house in India.
And then the problems began.
Problems an NRI Faces When They Own a House in India
Time Difference Is a Hassle
I thought I would be able to manage the renovation of my newly bought home easily from overseas. Boy was I wrong. I called a cousin first and told him about my new house. He agreed to keep an eye on the on going work. The first problem we faced was in communication because of the time difference. Either I’d catch him when he was snoring, or he’d call me when I was dreaming.
This was an even bigger problem when it came to conveying my messages to the contractor, the interior designer and other workers. I needed to talk to them to describe the type of setting I wanted. I did not want to play Chinese whisper with my cousin and the workers. But of course, this meant I had to call when the time was right for them.
This was also a major problem once my house was renovated. I still had a year in the US and decided to rent out the place until then. Make a little pocket money on the side. Again, the time difference and the distance made it a major problem to communicate with my tenants.
Managing Cannot be Easily Delegated
Almost every NRI I know who buys a property in India has their relatives or sometimes friends manage it at first. I did too. Once my house was ready I appointed my cousin as my delegated house manager. It was not a problem at first, but became one real soon.
My house was vacant for 2 months and then rented out. During the first two months of vacancy, I would call him at least thrice a week to go check on the house and get cleaning done. In turn, he had to find a cleaning service, oversee the work, and manage the payments. If repairs were needed, he had to find the right person and again oversee all work. This quickly became an interference with his day-to-day responsibilities.
Once I rented out the place, the problems went to the next level. My cousin received constant calls for repairs and maintenance jobs and in return I’d get calls for fund transfers. Tenants sometimes didn’t pay on time and I had to get on call with them to sort things out. My cousin was ready to call it quits and block my number.
Workers Can Easily Swindle You Of Cash
When my cousin handled the finances it was all fine, he was a local and knew how to get his way. But there were times when certain decorators or designers called me directly to tell me of a sofa that would look perfect or an elegant chandelier that would be stunning for the hall. I would ask them to purchase it and send me the bill, and there was a long list of items along with the object itself – cab fare, commission, moving fare, labourer charges, etc. Sitting in the US, I had no way of knowing what parts of the bills were genuine.
Finding and Screening Tenants is Difficult
When I decided to rent out my house, I thought of managing the job myself rather than burden my cousin with an additional chore. So I made a few calls and put out a few ads. I got some inquiries, all during odd hours for me in the US, but things weren’t rolling. So I decided to invest in a broker. I kept sending him money to put out flyers and notices. He kept saying things are being done. I simply had no way of knowing. All I knew was that I still didn’t have tenants. He did eventually deliver, but honestly, I felt I spent much more than I should I have. The process of renting out my house in India should have been easier.
I also found it extremely annoying that I did not personally know the people living in my own house in India. The house that I poured my sweat and money into. I had no way of knowing their personalities and character. I simply had to trust my broker’s judgement (whose personality and character is still a mystery to me).
Maintenance is the Ultimate Challenge
A property needs constant care and attention. The yard needs tending to, the walls need repainting, floors need cleaning, furniture needs polishing. All of these are done by individual experts. My cousin was away on a vacation for a month and that’s when the complete strain of maintaining my property in India hit me. My tenants were on summer vacation from college as well and I had to manage cleaning and repairs on my own.
I had to call the cleaning service and fix a time when they were free. Then I had to call friends and relatives and beg someone to oversee the cleaning of my house thrice a week. About twice a month the yard had to be weeded, and handling that was another thorn in my side. Every task related to managing my property in India made me start resenting the house.
How a Property Management Company Finally Saved Me
So after about 11 months in the US I owned a very nice house that was well maintained, albeit with a LOT of difficulty, and an extremely frustrated cousin. Then my company decided to make me stay for another year. I could not bear to put my cousin or myself through this all over again for another year. So I did some research and happened upon the concept of property management companies. And that changed my entire life. Here’s exactly how they took over every aspect of property management and started to maintain my house in India.
They handled everything on my behalf without me having to call them regularly
All the chores my cousin and I struggled with, these guys took over and handled without any supervision. I spoke to them once a month and they gave me a detailed report of what was done and will be done. Initially I’d have my cousin go check up on the work, but after a month or so I was completely confident in the output these guys delivered.
The part to focus on here is that they took over all responsibilities. I’m not talking about one section like cleaning, or tenants finding, or repairs. They handled my house like it was their own and became my liaisons in India.
The costs went down
I mentioned before how I found the costs were better managed when my cousin handled finances instead of me, mainly because he was a local who knew how to get the right guys for the right price. I enjoyed this same benefit with the property management company. They appointed a property manager in the same city as my property and they had an arsenal of workers, vendors and contacts who did regular jobs for them. I enjoyed this influence of theirs by way of affordable services.
Tenant management became a breeze
They managed to efficiently handle my tenants on their own. The manager catered to all calls and needs. They collected and deposited rent on time. I was never disturbed with problems or demands. When a set of tenants left, the property management company in India handled the advertising and found me new tenants in a matter of few days. I barely noticed a drop in rent finances.
In case you’re wondering how we do it:
I finally had peace of mind and was happy with my decision to own a house in India
The problems I faced when managing my property on my own were so much that I began regretting investing in a property in India when I was away. Once the management company took over, however, the stress and strain was completely lifted. I enjoyed the benefits of owning a house in India, the rent, the security and the status with absolutely none of the problems, tension or stress!
The Take Away For Every NRI With Property in India
It is simple. Hire a property management company to manage your house in India. You need help maintaining your property in India and your relatives and friends just cannot take over the burden. Call professionals and watch it make a difference in your life.
If you want to learn more about what a property management company does:
In Case Your an NRI Looking For a Property Management Company
Here are some options: