Hey, the Romanian’s are coming! LEACH & LANG EXPERIENCE

White Mountain team visits Poland (13)I am a great believer in benchmarking. Why reinvent the wheel if someone has beaten you to it.  Also, you don’t have to wait for competition to arrive before you sharpen your processes. With this in mind, I contacted Tom Leach at the much respected Leach & Land property company in Poland a few years ago & we kicked around ideas to help each of our companies learn form each other, to improve for the benefit of our clients.  We stayed in touch & this June, 2 of our crack team at White Mountain made the epic 1000km drive to Krakow to spend a week in the company of the team at Leach & Lang.
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DIY SoS / Client SoS

A quarter past midnight. Just finished carrying a washing machine to the 5th floor.  I’m jotting this down before a 4am departure for my 6am red eye flight to London so I don’t forget. Why am I sharing this story? Because this piece of work defines the sort of team we have & the lengths we go to when up against adversity, to assist clients.

3 months ago an Irish client came to me to ask me to sell his property at 20% below market value because he was exhausted by continually being burned in his Romanian real estate venture. In this case partially at the hands of a locally based Irish property management company & partly at the hands of bad tenants.  After 5 years of ownership he remained with a run down, tired & broken apartment in Dimitrie Cantemir street, off Unirii Blvd with the most horrible quality & poor condition furniture you could ever imagine.  Continue reading

LONDON — They’re portrayed as pickpockets stealing British jobs…

LONDON — They’re portrayed as pickpockets who will steal British jobs. There are predictions they will beg, the unruly young ones will stir up riots, and some will even try to sell babies.

For months, Britain’s tabloids have repeatedly warned of the horrors they believed would ensue after Jan. 1, when work restrictions were lifted across the European Union for migrants from Romania and Bulgaria — two of the trading bloc’s newest members. Those changes, the papers claim, will unleash a mass exodus of the poor and unemployed from the two eastern European countries to Britain. Continue reading

Bad property manangement experience at Greenfields or Sydney Residence, Bucharest

 

We have helped numerous clients in recent months at both Sydney Residence and Greenfields in Bucharest as there previous property management company has gone into free fall collapse. The range of issues has been pretty diverse but all include missing rent, missing furniture, unpaid taxes, unregistered contracts etc etc. Continue reading

Discover Transylvania

Mystical Transylvania is brimming with history, from its Gothic castles and medieval towns to its multi-ethnic heritage. Here you can experience German and Hungarian roots, through music, culture and costumes, and these are brought vibrantly to life in the festivals that take place throughout the year. Transylvania is surrounded by mountains that are teaming with rare wildlife and impressive glaciers, and you will be stunned by the natural beauty of the area. As more visitors are drawn to Romania, many of them decide to settle in the fascinating region of Transylvania and explore its cultural heritage and many attractions whilst benefiting from the economy.

Attractions

Bran Castle is situated near Brasov and is linked with Prince Vlad Tepes, who inspired the Dracula legend. Locals have a strong bond with the story and the 15th Century Prince who resided here makes a compelling focus for visitors. Brasov itself is a well-preserved town from medieval times with impressive Old Saxon buildings and ruins. Sighisoara features a citadel with spectacular views, a 14th Century tower and secret passageways that wind their way through the town, whilst Sibiu is renowned for its pastel houses and quaint, cobblestone streets to enchant visitors. Continue reading

Struggling with your unresponsive Bucharest property manager?

We have had a number of clients come to us in total desparation in 2012 & many more in 2013 having had a terrible experience with their Bucharest property manager, to use the term generously.  I have so far avoided writing this post as I do not wish to publically discredit competitors. The good ones do not deserve that treatment & the bad ones do it to themselves. Continue reading

Looking for the ideal place to retire or live in harmony?…try Romania

Many people dismiss Romania as a destination of choice, but anyone with travel experience of the region know this to be a great option to consider. Romania is an excellent choice for an affordable getaway place to live & live very well.  There are many towns & villages in Romania that make it a great choice to consider for relocation if you want to escape the sadly all too many decaying societies in the west. From ASBO’s to muggings, to street crime, to anti social behaviour, once highly desirable locations are becomgin increasingly less desirable.

As the so called first world economy goes from one downturn to the next, with emergency special measures employed such as ‘quatative easing’ used to prevent meltdown through economic chaos, so called ‘natural’ disasters & social decay, now is perhaps a good time to consider investing in real estate to protect your hard earned money from negative growth.  But before you invest, plan ahead a little. Where could you compfotably live out your days in peace & tranquility, where your hard earned money goes further?  Pensions are not performing as expected and the stock market is not predictable. You cannot beat bricks and mortar for long term stability. So where to live? Continue reading

A big welcome to our Erasmus students from around the world.

Welcome to our beautiful city. Brasov.

To enjoy it, you need not only a great University, but the nicest places to live.

We at White Mountain Property take great pride in looking after our very welcome Erasmus guests and are committed to doing our best to finding you a safe, warm, affordable quality place to live.

We were students once so we know how you feel, esepcially so far from home. So come have a coffee, steal our wifi signal! relax in our warm office while the team show you what we have available.

As an example though, we have

  • a flat share for one person for 120e,
  • a studio for 200, a premium studio for a couple for 225,
  • a Piata Sfatului loft apartment for 300e
  • a multiple room house for 500e.

We do not have a limitless supply, but we do have some of the best accomodation in town at the best prices. Just look at our website, www.whitemountain.ro to read genuine testimonials from previous clients, or google us.

Look forward to seeing you / Va Așteptăm

The White Mountain team

All Change at the base of the Mountain!

It’s with regret but well wishes that we say fairwell to Property Manager Lavinia & Office Administrator Ioana, as they out grow White Mountain to form a new company specialising in tasks such as company administration for foreigners, company set up, closure etc.

It’s an unfortunate paradox that in having such a strong, educated, honest and capable team that inevitably they develop, grow and fourish to much bigger things than Property Admin. If the job does not expand around them, as Property Management cannot, they are likely to outgrow it at some point.  Over the years we have had bright team members, who have gone on to do great things, in Romania, Italy, Germany, Spain, UK, Ireland and I respect them all for that. From small acorns grow oak trees.  Ambition goes hand in hand with skill and ability in this property business.

White Mountain however remains as rooted as a mountain to meet the requirements of its customers.

We will continue work with both Lavinia and Ioana on a number of projects on a consultancy basis and they will remain in Brasov, so some of you will still have dealings with them through White Mountain as there are a number of projects that would suit this arrangement very well, for all concerned.  For example, if a client wants to parcel up a large plot of land to sell as small building plots, apply for utilities and planning permission, this is something best handled by a stand alone project team. It is cheaper than a lawyer doing it, and faster.

But we have already welcomed on board 2 new bright, enthusiastic starters into the team, Calina and Andra, to pick up the mantle and thank Lavinia for 2 years of consistenly full-on effort in managing many a complex problem, from frozen pipes to frozen companies, and to Ioana for keeping WM’s engine room in good order, assisting with sales and rental and various property issues along the way.

Both Lavinia and Ioana have worked hard, honestly, passionately, have learned a great deal, developed enormously, professionally speaking and it is in their best interest that they pursue their own potential through their very own consultancy.

Most of the 55 clients properties we now manage are all fully sorted now, with only the odd small issue for one or 2 still to be bottomed out, so we are in good shape to regroup and await the next crisis-case property to rectify.  In some ways the team is now a little stronger because we have 5, not 3 people to call on for property or project matters. In addition, with change comes new skills, new ideas, whilst retaining all our years of experience.

So please join me in wishing Lavinia and Ioana well in their exciting future venture and lets hope the change is positive for everyone concerned, even if it forces us all to work harder in adapting to something new rather than the comfortable slippers that is the daily routine we have been used to.

I expect hicups, mistakes and mis-communication along the way, but our clients can continue to be assured that White Mountain stands by our committment to meet  and manage all of your property needs, a mantra we have had from day one which remains unaltered.

Damian Galvin

Director.

 

 

 

 

Top five rental problems and how to solve them

Tenants who don’t pay their rent
Its a common problem in Romania that a large % off all rents are paid late or not at all and that many tenants are in arrears of more than two months, so to avoid becoming a part of this statistic it’s essential landlords obtain references from prospective tenants before they move in. But if a tenant does get into arrears and informal channels fail to work then it may be time to start the eviction process.

Tenants who leave a property in a mess when they move out
When tenants move out having left it very untidy or just trashed it there is very little a landlord can do to chase them for compensation. The only way to prevent this costly scenario is to have a comprehensive inventory drawn up and agreed before a tenant moves in – backed by a deposit held in Tenant Deposit Scheme.

Tenants who complain about noisy neighbours
Tenants have a habit of expecting landlords to solve their every problem and noisy neighbours is one of them, but what can you do? Don’t get involved – just offer some advice, which can include suggesting an informal approach (talk to their neighbours!); contacting their neighbour’s landlord (if they are tenants too); using an officially-approved local mediators to sort matters out; complaining to your local council and, as last resort, taking them to court.

Garden is not being maintained
It is fairly standard for residential rental agreements to state that the upkeep of a garden is the responsibility of the tenant and not the landlord – and yet few tenants do any gardening. Several tactics can be employed to remedy this. Firstly, provide tenants with the gardening tools they will need as it means they will be more likely to get stuck in. Secondly, consider adding the cost of a gardener or handyman to the rent; something responsible tenants are likely to think a small expense in return for a pretty garden.

An outgoing tenant hasn’t paid their utility bills
The whole point of these is that, should a tenant not pay their utility bills before moving out, then once it’s been proved money is owed the appropriate sum will be deducted from their original deposit. You can do checks on utility bills some weeks before to get an indicative reading if you suspect there will be a large bill to pay.

 

Race for Comarnic-Brasov motorway contract is on

April 2013 – From the Print Edition

The Romanian National Company of Motorways and National Roads (CNADNR) has received four bids for the building works on the motorway linking Comarnic to Brasov, including an offer from the Vinci (France)-Aktor (Greece) joint venture, which had been chosen to build the motorway stretch in 2009, but subsequently pulled out, according to Mediafax.
Tenders have also been submitted by the Vinci-Aktor-Strabag (Austria) joint venture, state-owned Chinese Communications Construction Company (CCCC), all-Romanian Spedition UMB-Tehnostrade JV and Italian Impregilo-Salini JV.
The tender contract for the construction of the Brasov-Comarnic motorway will be signed by September 30, with works to begin in October, said the deputy minister for infrastructure projects of national interest and foreign investments Dan Sova.
This tendering attempt for the Comarnic-Brasov motorway follows two previous failed efforts. The last attempt took place in 2010 when the winner of the auction, the Vinci-Aktor joint venture, backed out of the contract.
The Greek-based group Ellaktor, which includes the Aktor company, announced that it was annulling the contract for the construction of the highway because the Romanian state had not accepted certain terms, which made it impossible to secure financing.
Tan Lu, representative of the CCCC group, said it was also interested in other tender projects from the Romanian state. “In fact, we are interested in any transport infrastructure project,” he added.

What to do about rent reduction requests

Once upon a time only agents and landlords with large portfolios knew about rental asking prices in their local area, but the rise of websites have helped tenants be much more aware of value for money and has helped drive an increase in the number of ‘rent reduction’ requests landlords receive. But what can you do?

The answer is to be better informed about the local market than your tenants and have some counter arguments ready. So here’s our guide to winning the argument.

1. No property is the same, even if they might sound similar on property listings sites. Factors such as garden aspect, fittings quality or which floor an apartment is on can all drive the four or five per cent difference in rent that tenants perceive to be ‘over charging’.

2. Nationally, rents may have risen over last last year?Check this statistic

3. Remind them of the cost they are likely to incur if they do decide to move including the inventory, registration and reference fees that some agents and landlords charge.

4. Point out that while rents may have been dropping locally by a few per cent, in the long run they oscillate up and down regularly and it will all even out over the life of their tenancy.

Smoke and heat alarms – are they necessary?

(Extract from a useful UK landlord forum)Romanian fire prevention standardsThere is a compelling case for landlords to fit interlinked smoke alarms (and heat alarms for situations where they can’t be used), as leading alarm manufacturer Kidde Fyrnetics explains. In Scotland, this is already a legal requirement in all rented housing, with at least one alarm on each floor, and the UK government is considering similar measures. Registered HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) also need them to meet local authority rules.

But even where specific rules are not spelled out, legal liability still applies if suitable alarms are not installed. This is because civil law imposes a duty on landlords to ensure the safety of their tenants. For the same reason, there is a strong argument for fitting CO alarms, to protect against carbon monoxide poisoning, as well.

The current Code of Practice for domestic fire alarm systems, BS 5839-6: 2004, provides the benchmark for what a landlord should do. Although it recommends hard-wired smoke and heat alarms in most cases, battery-only units can be used where “structural fire precautions” meet current Building Regulations. But it’s the landlords’ responsibility to ensure that all ceilings, partitions, doors, etc., really do comply – not an easy task – otherwise, battery alarms might put tenants at risk. So, professionally installed, hard-wired alarms are the safe answer. Here, wireless interlinking technology can eliminate disruptive wiring between alarms. Find out more by downloading Kidde Fyrnetics’ guide ‘Fire & CO Safety in Housing’ at www.smoke-alarms.co.uk

A Christmas message for 2012…

White Mountain Property - work int he communityAs 2012 draws to a close, I thought I would share the good news of the great progress made with your help as regards charity & to tell you what next steps are planned.

Last Christmas we were able to take 40+ goodie bags to an all boys orphanage, & 150+ to a terribly neglected run down mental hospital.

I was so affected that I refused to wait 52 weeks to return again, so during 2012, as many of you will know, we:

  • Went on mass to paint 3 of the worst affected rooms of the 24
  • Fitted CD radios in 17 or the 24 rooms
  • Fitted a 32 inch TV in the hallway of the women’s dorm
  • Found 12 ‘Patrons’ to adopt one of the 24 rooms each, resulting in an ongoing caring relationship between patron & patients in that room. We still need to find another
  • Fixed the broken plumbing in around 6 toilets & sinks, more to go
  • Fitted missing electric sockets in 5 rooms of 24
  • Donated numerous blankets & clothes.

On the December 22nd , we will go on mass to the mental hospital with 150 pairs of socks, sandwiches & presents for each of the patients including sweets, juice, fruit & maybe a gadget. Also, we will bring a singer with her electric Piano & make a bit of a party of it.

We have made it our mission. We will not desert these people, as they have been until now. With your input also, we can significantly upgrade their comfort & reduce their misery.

Next requirements:

  • Contributions towards their Christmas gifts
  • Money for 2013 to renovate more rooms, install locker-cupboards for every patient to store their pathetically few possessions
  • Fix remaining plumbing
  • Improve the heating
  • Improve the lack of pressure water & hot water

God Bless all,

Best wishes for Christmas & we wish you an excellent 2012

Damian & the team at White Mountain.

 

Reducing Noise in Your Home

Introduction

Noise control in apartment buildings has a considerable bearing on your privacy and well-being. Complaints about loud music and voices, telephone and television noise, doors slamming, garage openers clattering, water pipes banging and ventilation fans humming, are common in multi-unit occupant buildings. The sound of aircraft, traffic, construction, tree pruning, engine revving and loud manele music can be an upsetting in almost any place we call home. Humans have learned to accept a certain amount of noise as an inevitable consequence of urban living and of course, city-dwellers have a difference tolerance than countryside residents. Yet, there are limits to the noise you should tolerate, and ways to improve the acoustic privacy in your apartment. Continue reading

Landlords, pet’s and mental health!

As a property landlord, you should seriously consider the option of allowing tenants to have pets if you do not already – by this I mean dogs, cats, etc. There are certain reasonable restrictions here (e.g, people just shouldn’t have large dogs in apartments). I think it’s important to look at why having pets is such a good thing for your tenants in order to have an understanding of why it’s a good idea to let them. Continue reading

The realities of furniture standards & tastes in Romania…

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.

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But why live in Romania? It is 50 years behind the times…

People always ask me, why would you live in Romania? Its very hard to earn good salaries, or even any salary; things don’t always work; proper roads are something only for the future; corruption exists even in the health system, and on it goes…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l93wAqnPQwk[/youtube]Well, the answer for me personally is very simple. This video captures it beautifully. In some parts of the west, certain elements of society have reached, exceeded and overshot utopia in their ‘development’..  I’m no expert but some things are plain to see.  Western society has so much apparent ‘freedom’ of cultural choice with disposable marriage, kids with zero respect, welfare systems promoting larger families which inevitably become single parent families, and where family & religious values are a thing of the distant past, never to be recovered in some sections of society. People say religion causes war and division. I disagree entirely. People cause it & blame it on religion. In Romania, the events in that video are as unlikely as tomorrow being Jan 1 1970. Continue reading

advice, news, insider tips & your stories on property in Romania!