The Honest Diary of a Mumbai Real Estate Broker


The Honest Diary of a Mumbai Real Estate Broker

Illustration: Arati Gujar

At some point in every unfortunate Mumbaikars life, they’re going to have to visit Seller of Boxes, Surprise Doubler of Deposits, Outright Rejector of Meat, the All-knowing Apartment Broker. As I watch these commoners run around looking for their perfect homes with balconies that they don’t have to work three jobs for, I sit in my giant, airy one-BHK overlooking the only park in the city, and swivel my 500 ML Bisleri bottle. You see, I live only six kilometres from the closest train station, which is only three seconds away if you take the hyperloop. My life’s a dream.

How much should I charge clients for a house with no rooms, windows, or toilets? However much I want, bitches, I’m the sheriff around these parts. If I say you use a communal toilet, you cover your nose, learn how to audibly hum, and use the communal toilet.

Hmm, let’s see, what’s the first task on my list today? Should I answer this client’s call? She’s looking for a “budget studio apartment”. Have you ever heard anything so hilarious? I have a closet at Pali Naka she can rent out with the amount of money she has in her bank account. Maybe not, actually, she’s an unmarried woman in her early 30s, and I know a group of four boys who are willing to split a shelf each for the same amount. So probably just going to ignore that call.

Should I take that family of four on a scooter ride around Goregaon instead? Honestly, that’s not going to be much fun either. They’re always complaining. Apparently 100 sq feet is not enough for the four of them to “get out of bed without hitting each other in the face”. Even after I gave them the option of keeping their front door open all day, and banned them from having friends over. Can you imagine. Some people seriously don’t know how to appreciate what they have.

Stop asking for windows and learn how to use Instagram and your imagination.

Honestly, I’m just so tired of the constant whingeing – “Oh that’s not a window, that’s a hole”… “I can peel the walls off with my hand”… “What do you mean there’s a bathroom-cum-kitchen?!” – excuse me, do I stutter? Stop asking for windows and learn how to use Instagram and your imagination.

My reaction in these cases is usually to remind these eventual home renters that they have only 20 hours to sign the agreement or risk being homeless forever. Works like a charm. Every single time. If I’m in a playful mood, maybe I’ll throw in an unverifiable fact like “Dev Anand’s second-cousin’s dog walker used to live here.” And if it was good enough for them, it better be good enough for you.

I can afford to be obnoxious because business is booming these days. It turns out everyone needs an apartment to live in, even if all their definitions of “apartment” don’t match. My superiors are currently in the process of devising an evil plan to confuse them further. Throwing up a constant stream of spam SMSes and garish hoardings, they’ve convinced Mumbai that a 1 BHK in Kharghar for only ₹3.2 crore is a deal to die for. Now isn’t that brilliant? You could buy a house in France for the same amount of money, I believe. But apparently a photoshop of a child on a swing is enough to convince Mumbaikars that they live in the greenest city in the world.

Which isn’t to say some clients haven’t called me out for “embellishment” every now and then. I can no longer pass off broken walls as “classic Mumbai architecture”, or parallel exhaust fans as a form of “cross ventilation”. Everyone has access to that damn AirBnB app these days. I’m going to have to change with the times too.

The road outside their new house is going to be renovated for the next six years starting July 1.

What’s something everyone really likes? Trees? Perfect! Get rid of all that useless foliage, and offer clients a free parking spot for each of their vehicles. For only a small bump in the rent, present this as the deal of a lifetime. But the joke’s on them. The road outside their new house is going to be renovated for the next six years starting July 1.

For now, I need a good night’s rest. Tomorrow I have to deal with this 28-year-old man who is old enough to pay me two months’ deposit, but not old enough to have friends over without it turning into a giant sex party. It’s going to be a day full of rejection and disappointment. But, hey, if you ever need a place to live, you know who to call.