Stepping into the Lənkəran Housing Market
That’s kind of a bizarre phrase, in itself: Lənkəran Housing Market. It’s hard to imagine the housing market being anything like what I’m used to in the US. If I were looking for an apartment or house to rent in the US, I would probably spend a lot of time on the internet figuring out which places to look at, looking at the online pictures, and then making a call to chat with the landlord and see the place. Here, it’s not too different, except for a few steps.
First, there’s no online bazaar for apartments or houses. Craigslist isn’t helping me out here in Lənkəran. That means I have to actually physically go see the house before I can see it in pictures and get a basic description. The second thing, certainly a plus, is that you can fairly quickly assemble a team of people to look for houses for you. We’ve got a good amount of contacts around, people from the bank or from the library or other acquaintances, who’ll let us know if they hear of an available place. As I walked around yesterday with Mirağa, we slowly spread the word and quickly had 15-25 people, including folks at the Transparency International office, on the lookout. And third, a feature of the Azeri system, is the “real estate agents.” These guys have small, one-desk, three-chair offices with a day planner. Their day planner is where they write down numbers and available houses. You walk in, tell these guys what you want (place for two, apartment or house, in the city) and they inform you of the possibilities they have. It’s a little unsettling, as most of these guys seem to attach a gravitas to their words that seems inappropriate for describing the conditions and price of an apartment. I don’t think there is any mob activity going in here, but they certainly like to sound like there’s some sort of under-the-table, shady dealings going on; that they’re letting me in on a secret.
So, in terms of progress with the neighbor, Həsən, from this post, Nizami the landlord hasn’t yet visited us from Baku. His wife is having some health problems and he’ll come as soon as he can. In the meantime, we’re on the lookout for a new place where we can wear shorts as we wish. Explaining the issues to these real estate agent types, they all nod in agreement that this is a bizarre situation, and that if they don’t like us wearing shorts, they should stop peeking in our yard.