Over the past few weeks I’ve been working with a friend on finding a place to live in once we return to Boston. It hasn’t been going too well. There are plenty of apartments to choose from – but hey, we’re just picky I guess.
Our sights are set on finding a sublet – and an illegal one at that. Too often do landlords make it as difficult as possible (and un-economical) for tenants to sublet an apartment, which is why most of them are done under the table – person to person.
It is a common thing to do in college towns. Students are always taking off for a semester abroad and such, and the students coming back (like me) are always hunting for a new spot. It is an almost ideal situation since both people need the other equally. Naturally though, some people make it significantly more difficult than it has to be.
Just because a person is in business school doesn’t make them business savvy. Actually it can work against them by making them feel as though they should have some level of aptitude – pushing them to act how they “imagine” a businessperson acts. And in under-the-table sublet deals, such pseudo-business minds are all too common.
I’m no businessman and no credentials in that world. However, I do believe that I have two pieces of advice that will significantly benefit anyone who internalizes and obeys them. And here they are – accompanied with anecdotes from mine and Jake’s last two weeks corresponding with other students looking to sublet their apartments.
Learn the Difference Between a Good Deal and Taking Advantage of Someone
There is a prevalent misconception in society that a good deal is one sided. Yes, misconception was the key word in that sentence. The most fundamental reason for (and philosophy behind) economics and business is mutual benefit. And to conduct your affairs in a manner that is abusive to those you’re working with is a sure path to failure.
When dealing with student sublets this unharmonious situation is caused by insecurity. One (or both) of the students simply doesn’t have the confidence to trust their judgment on whether or not a deal is fair. And as a result they automatically opt for trying to take advantage of the other party – thinking that’s how business works.
A good deal is when both parties are comfortable and happy with what has been decided. When subletting an apartment – for me at least – comfortable and happy would be paying the other party his or her rent monthly with the first and last months rent upfront, making everyone happy. He has his rent and some assurance with three months up-front, and I have an apartment.
One of the guys we were dealing with had a great apartment that we offered to pay the rent for. However, he didn’t have the confidence to recognize a good deal and stated that he “wanted the full 5 months rent up front because he was worried about us not paying him.”
This is an ironic concern. How? Because he’s telling us his worry about being taking advantage of at the same moment he is trying to take advantage of us. Instead of being confident in his ability to construct a good deal, he believes that he must take advantage of us.
Naturally, we didn’t rent from him – which is a loss for him just as much as us. However, good business is done with people you trust. And the way he conducted himself gave us no reason to trust in him, or believe working with him would foster a good relationship.
So the first tip is learn the difference between making a good deal and take advantage of people. Because when you are able to create situations where all parties benefit, people will come back to you to do more business – and you’ll benefit significantly more in the long run.
Don’t Over Negotiate Your Deals
Negotiation is an important part of any business deal, but not over negotiating is equally important. If you have reached a point when making a deal that you are comfortable with, there is NO reason to negotiate any further – because all you’re doing past that point is wasting both parties time, and better insuring that neither of you will ever want to deal with each other again.
Over negotiating is absolutely an outcome of not having the confidence to recognize a good deal over taking advantage of someone. However, even people who are simply trying to make a fair deal often over negotiate. They nit-pick at details that are both insignificant and inconsequential to what’s being discussed, and as a result drive them-selves (and all parties involved) crazy.
With sublets, the deal is pretty simple – because the deal is already defined. The person your renting the apartment from already has a lease that is legally binding, so there is no reason to negotiate terms that go beyond that lease. To try to make the deal any more complicated than that lease would not serve any business purpose – it would just waste time.
Whenever making a deal, not only should you try to keep it fair, but also keep it simple. Remember, you have a choice when it comes to whom you do business with – whether that is subletting an apartment or starting a business. So appreciate that choice and use it to find people that you believe will treat you fairly, and make sure to return the favor. Keeping your affairs simple, straight forward, and efficient is a great way to do so.
And credit to Jake to handling most all of the communications…