Saturday, July 23, 2016

Gimme "dibs"!


Today's rant will be about entitled people who want "dibs".  You know what dibs are, right?  According to the dictionary, dibs is "the right to choose or share something."  Here in the Stuttgart military community, a lot of people want dibs, especially when it comes to housing.  Housing on the economy can be in short supply, though it's not quite as bad as it was when we moved here the first time in 2007.  For two reasons, back then there were a lot more people looking for places to live.  First off, the military was renovating many of the stairwell apartments on the installations.  Secondly, a lot more people were being posted in Stuttgart then than there are now.

Thanks to Facebook's "On this day" feature, I've been reminded of the hell that was two years ago when we were leaving San Antonio and had people coming over all the time to look at the house we were vacating.  That was probably the worst experience I've ever had with dealing with people needing a place to live.  It drove me crazy because we had showings all the time and it was an invasion of privacy, especially while our house looked like a tornado hit it.  The real estate agents and prospective tenants were not very considerate.  Two years ago today, one real estate agent tried to block off our house for five hours of showings!  And they called after 9:00pm, so we didn't get the message until early the next morning, minutes before the first prospective renter was to show up.

Leaving Stuttgart last time was probably the second worst experience I had trying to leave.  In 2009, housing was still in short supply and Facebook was not the "thing" it is now.  We'd have people prowling our street looking at the house or real estate agents wanting to drop over unannounced.  And they'd come over and I'd give them the tour.  No one wanted the house, so this would continue over and over again.  It was a real pain in the ass.

Nowadays, we get people on Facebook who post messages looking for houses in certain neighborhoods.  They have a long list of things they're looking for.  A lot of the things they want are not commonly found in Germany.  For instance, many people are hoping for a free standing house with a big fenced yard.  You will find a lot more duplexes in Germany than free standing houses, though they do exist.  Our first home in the Stuttgart area was a free standing house, but it had a mother in law apartment that was rented out.  When the renter moved out, we rented the empty space so we could have the house to ourselves.  This time, we live in a duplex, which thankfully hasn't been as bad as I thought it would be.

Anyway, the point is, a lot of people want features in their rental homes that are not necessarily easy to find.  And some of them have the gall to ask people who are getting ready to vacate to give them "dibs" on their unlisted homes.  Here's an example.


Basically, this person is asking strangers in the local group to offer her first dibs on their house.  You may be a nice person, but so are most of the others who might want dibs.

I totally get why people do this.  When you move to Stuttgart with the military, you often end up spending weeks in a hotel.  The first time Bill and I lived here, we lived in a truly shitty hotel for six weeks.  It pretty much sucked, although we did at least get to meet a few nice people in the same situation.  The second time we were here, we spent a week in a hotel and about three weeks in a temporary apartment.  If you have kids and pets, it's a real pain in the ass to live in temporary digs, though the situation is not nearly as horrible as it used to be.  At least now, it's easier to find space where there are basic kitchen facilities.  The first time we were here, that wasn't as easy to find.

While you are stuck in a hotel for weeks looking for housing, you are competing with others in that situation.  Some people try to get a jump on the competition by asking folks who are leaving to let them know ahead of the others that their house will be available.  But, here's the thing.  Why should anyone do that for someone else except out of the goodness of their heart?  And why should they do it for a perfect stranger, especially when chances are the stranger won't even like the house?  And do these househunters understand that the tenants who are leaving will soon be inundated with successors wanting the grand tour?  Meanwhile, they are themselves in the process of moving and stressing over their next home.  And finally, even if they let you come and look at the house, the landlord(s) may not approve of you.  Housing laws are different here and homeowners have more rights to discriminate than they do in the United States.  For example, I have heard of some landlords specifying that they only want to rent to people who have children.  

Before anyone calls me out about being a renter myself, let me just say that every place I have lived, with the exception of the house we're in right now, was vacant when I viewed it.  But I do remember how patient and slightly put upon the previous tenants in this house were when we were viewing the property.  I felt kind of bad for them because I knew that there had been a fucking parade of people coming through looking for a place to live.  It's a real hassle and one that I don't think a lot of househunters understand or appreciate.  It's like some of them forget what it's like to have their privacy invaded, even though a lot of them just went through the rental exit process themselves.

So yeah, you can count me among the people who get annoyed when someone asks for "dibs".  I am not amused when someone writes "If your house hasn't been listed yet, please let me know!"  I mean, who do you think you are?  And what have you done for me lately?  And why should I do a good deed for you when it will likely not go unpunished?  

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