Expat Services: Find a Home to Rent

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Finding a home to rent in Santa Cruz is a crazy business! Our webmaster has rented 8 homes in 14 years in 6 different areas of this city. You can read about her house hunting adventures which opened her eyes to some serious problems with the way the local housing market and real estate agents operate. What used to be an easy task has become a nightmare for renters. So she took everything she knows about real estate from her own experience (the most rigorous real estate exam in the U.S.), combined it with everything she learned about renting in Santa Cruz, and set out to find the best real estate agent to work with Expat Services.

Mario Villafan lived in San Francisco for over 30 years where he worked as a real estate agent prior to moving back to his native country, Bolivia. Expat Services has partnered with Mario through his company Legacy Bienes Raíces. Mario will assist you with your search for a home to rent. He is fully bilingual (English-Spanish). California has the most stringent real estate exam in the U.S.A. Mario adheres to the same U.S. quality standards in customer service he practiced in California.

We'll help you find a home to rent:

We’ll begin by offering to give you our unique House Hunter Tour! No one else in Santa Cruz offers this. As a foreigner, you can’t possibly know where to begin searching for a house, what each neighborhood contains, where it’s located, what its positive and negative aspects are, if you’ve never lived in Santa Cruz before. We really do encourage you to choose this option.

An educated consumer is a wise consumer. Having completed your House Hunter Tour (we encourage you to take photos) we’ll meet to talk about your budget, the size of apartment or house you plan to rent, the amenities you’d like to be sure it has, what kind of surrounding area you’d like (schools, parks, grocery stores, etc.) and other details.

Your initial tour and our informational visit are essential. These two activities will help us ensure that neither we nor you waste any time viewing homes that very obviously don’t fit your description. Please read this page on what you might expect from homes and apartments in Santa Cruz.

We’ll inform you about what will be required of you. We’ll explain what will be required of you before you can sign a rental contract. You’ll need to tell us at what point you are in your immigration process.

When viewing a home, we’ll pick you up and accompany you. If we’ve found a house or apartment for rent that we think you may want to see, we’ll contact you immediately, describe it as fully as possible, and arrange to pick you up.

We’ll inspect the home with you and go through a checklist of important questions you should ask (and may not think of) because Bolivian homes are so different from what you might be accustomed to.

We’ll help you negotiate your contract. Once you’re sure you want to rent a home, we’ll help you negotiate the price, security deposit, and rental agreement to get you the best price possible. We’ll translate any questions you have and responses given throughout the entire process.

When you’re ready to sign a rental contract we’ll encourage the homeowner to use our bilingual lawyer for this, if they agree. (Normally the homeowner chooses the lawyer and notary public.) However, we’ll accompany you wherever the contract is finally drawn up.

We’ll conclude our service by helping you locate a moving truck and personnel if you need one.

We can also assist you in the same manner, if you're searching for an office space.

Why our service outshines others

In Bolivia real estate agents charge anywhere from 50% to 100% of your first month’s rent to show you a home. Most are charging 80%. The higher your rent, the more they earn. They are not motivated to get you the lowest price. If your rental budget is $1000 a month, you could potentially pay up to $1000 for a 15 minute showing to the agent whose home you choose to rent. Local real estate agents tell us that unless your rental budget is above $1000, most won’t bother to actively search for you. They will show you only homes owners have already listed with them. So who are they working for? The owners!

There are many other surprising differences you may not be accustomed to. Click here to see what motivated us to offer you a far superior service.

This is your chance to have an English speaker actively search, accompany you, translate, negotiate the lowest price possible, inspect, publicize, educate you truthfully on the current housing situation, treat you well, and pound the pavement until you’ve found a home. If you’d like more information, please contact us and let us know how our team can help make house hunting in Bolivia pleasant, fun and affordable!

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