30 March 2012

The Easthams: Rental Houses & Land Brokers

We have been in Uganda for almost a month now.  This blog post continues in a theme of our settling and adapting to life here.

 Now that we have found a rental house, there is some time for me to reflect on our experiences of looking at houses.  In Uganda, "land brokers" take you to the available houses and then introduce you to the landowner.

I've asked several Ugandan friends about land brokers.  Suffice it to say that brokers are loathed for their lack of ethics, dishonesty, and corruption.  Brokers said to only focus on making their commissions as large as possible.  My own experience has been similar.

Our first broker was very professional.  My mistake was telling him our actual budget.  After finding a house that met our needs, the broker told the owner our budget amount.  From that point forward we were unable to negotiate a lower monthly payment than what I had told the broker.  The broker was sure that we would take that house.  If we negotiated a lower monthly payment, that would mean a lower commission for him.

During the tour of another promising house, I asked the broker where the nearest mosque was.  He said it was far away, and that we could definitely not hear the pre-dawn (5 am) call to worship.  He must have meant, "You won't we woken up if you have all the windows shut and have a fan blowing in your ear."  About two minutes later we all heard the afternoon call blaring from the mosque's loudspeakers.  I realized I could not rely on the broker for accurate information.  Caveat emptor ("Let the buyer beware").

Our second broker was from a very reputable company.  They even had a nicely organized website, and the homepage featured a nice house that matched our budget.  After we began discussions with the landlady, we realized that the monthly rent quoted on the broker's homepage was an outright lie.  He had listed the monthly rent as 20% lower than what the landlady was asking.  I was alarmed at the wanton dishonesty.  Later a friend told us, "All the brokers do that."

We are needed here.  Romans 10:16-17 reads, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Isaiah says, "LORD, who has believed our report?"  So then faith [comes] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  We are here because the word of God needs to be spoken.

John Eastham,
New Missionary to Uganda

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