In continuation of my previous blog post about my room hunting experience in Seoul, in this posting I will highlight on several aspects to look out for while doing the room check prior to signing the contract, the contract signing process and what to look out for! I guess I will leave out the process of shifting from the dormitory to the room for now because I haven’t experienced that yet hahaha.
So after deciding on the room I wanted to rent, I contact the agent again to view the house for the second time. My agent gladly obliged and I purposely chose to view the house again at night after sun set (the first time I viewed it was on a gloomy afternoon). It was raining cats and dogs that evening but it worked in my favour because I can also then check if there is any leaking anywhere.
Here are a check list about important stuff to check:
- Boiler – Make sure it is working for both hot water and floor heating (mine has 2 separate buttons for each function). Gas fees can get really expensive in colder seasons. Newer boilers take lesser time to heat up the floor and water, thus more conservative on the amount of gas used. For a point of reference, my room floor heats up almost immediately (i.e. when the floor heating button was turned on, in around 5 seconds I can feel the floor warming up). For water tap, it took around 2-3 minutes for the taps to produce warm water.
- All lights (toilet, room, front door automatic light, and even lights outside of your room at staircase area) – Ensure all lights are brightly lit, if not request the agent to change/repair it.
- All water taps and shower hose – Ensure water pressure is OK, no leaking.
- Toilet bowl flushing system – It may feel a bit weird that this is actually something important. Older toilet systems with older pipes or certain design of toilet bowls may not have a flush that is powerful enough to flush down toilet paper (this is why in Korea they either provide really thin toilet tissues in public toilets or provide a dustbin in the toilet area for us to throw used toilet paper). The toilet flush in my dormitory is pretty strong but still it got blocked for a few times in the past year. #noescape
- Windows – any holes on mosquito net, if the windows can slide open smoothly.
- Furniture – If the room is fully furnished (full option), check all cupboards and drawers to see if it is clean (depending on individuals but this is important to me).
- Kitchen – Most newer onerooms have induction stoves instead of traditional gas stoves. You may want to consider the amount of stoves because my friend who only has 1 stove said she wished she had two stoves so she can multitask while cooking instead of doing her dishes one by one #shehasapoint. Mine has 2 stoves btw.
- Wallpaper – Some owners may opt to change the wallpaper every time a new tenant moves in. If the room’s wallpaper is a bit dirty or run down, try check with the agent to see if it is possible to change.
Next, after confirming everything is OK it was time to sign the contract! Contract fee is normally 10% of total deposit and there is also a separate agent fee. All of these details will be listed in the contract. The contract should start on an agreed date (the date when you move in, NOT the date you sign the contract unless you are moving in right after signing lol) and the duration of contract must be stated clearly on the first page of the contract.
The biggest tip I could share is, make sure everything is ALRIGHT AND CORRECT before signing the contract! The agents are normally busy and they tend to rush us into signing the contract even before we manage to read everything. To be honest, I was rushed into signing the contract but I withhold the contract fee until I ensure everything in the contract is OK and the owner of the building has a clean record. I would prefer if I could sign it after letting my Korean friends check the contract. Fortunately everything turned out OK for me but others may not be so lucky!
Basically the signing of contract is done in the agent’s office. For my case, the agent has the name stamp of the building owner so on behalf of the owner himself, the agent acknowledged the contract using the owner’s stamp. The contract itself has three pages, the first page bearing important information like monthly rent, maintenance fees and what it includes (differs by room and negotiation results), amount of deposit, contract fee (normally 10% of contract fee), my ARC number and other personal details like handphone number, full name etc, the owner’s full name, house address and agent details. Make sure to check EACH AND EVERY details listed and request to change if there is ANY mistake no matter how small the mistake might be. The subsequent second and third page are basically information about the room like nearest bus stop, subway station, schools (primary, secondary, high school), size of room, condition of wall paper, water taps, boiler system etc. To me every information in the contract is IMPORTANT, so if there is anything you don’t agree with, for example if the wallpaper is dirty but in the contract it is stated as new/clean, request to either change the wallpapers or request to change the details in the contract. Ensure that all details regarding the room is tally with the contract to avoid discrepancies in the future when you move out!
Before finally signing the contract and paying the fees, there are TWO very important things to do. The first one is to check the 허가 번호 (registration number/authorization number) of the real estate agent.
You can do it here: http://www.kar.or.kr/pinfo/brokersearch.asp
The webpage is all in Korean but basically we just have to select the filters that indicate the area of the agent’s office (address is normally found on their name cards) and viola~ agents that are registered can all be found on this webpage. Once you verify the authenticity of the agent, then you can move on to checking the 등기부동분 of the building. This is a pretty complicated process and it is ALL in Korean. You would need to download an app called 인터넷등기소 on Playstore. It cost 700 won per check and you would also need to key in a phone number (for them to send the results to) and a Korean ID number. This is where you will need a Korean that you can trust to help you. The report will be in 2 pages. I am also not really sure on this part but from what I know, as long as the building doesn’t have multiple owners, the owner is debt-free and the building is not under mortgaged then it is OK. The report for my room shows none of these so it was an all clear.
P/S: The reason why multiple owners can pose a risk is because most likely the deposit you paid will be split across these owners so you will get into potential trouble if one or more of them runs away with your money.
After all these checks, it is time to sign the contract and wire the contract fee to the owner’s bank account as stated on the contract! Technically, we would have to wire the monthly rent to the same stated account too. Also remember to counter check if the person you are wiring the money to is indeed the building owner himself and not somebody else!
After signing the contract, it is time to make plans to shift! I know I would surely miss Gwangju when I leave because I got used to the life here already. But on the other hand, I am excited to start the new chapter in my life in Seoul! Having my own space and being able to experience living alone is also something that is pretty exciting and I am pretty sure it can be life changing too! Till then, I’ll continue enjoying the remaining weeks here I have in my language year~