You’ll always want to budget extra for furnishing and finishing your property. For the entry-level purchase described above, you would want a reserve somewhere in the neighbourhood of LE50,000. A decent multi-bedroom flat may require as much as LE2,000,000 (about USD364,000), while furnished villas can run to LE60,000,000 and more.
Real estate brokers in Egypt
The best way to search for properties is to go through a real estate broker. A real estate office will provide you with photos of prospective properties that you can use to narrow your search before you decide on where to visit in person. The broker will also make arrangements with the landlord or a representative (usually the building bowwab) to show you the flat. He may be helpful in price negotiations, or he may see his responsibility as showing you the property and nothing more.
Generally, brokers work on commission, with the commission being equal to one month’s rent. The broker may ask to be paid by you or the landlord, so make sure to clarify this up front when looking for property.
It is also possible to speak to bowwabs directly about properties, though you should have decent Arabic skills (or an Arabic-speaking friend) if you decide to go this route.
Things to beware
Make sure you give the property a thorough going-over before you agree to buy. Housing inspections are not mandatory in Egypt, so you will have to look out for yourself. Important things to check include:
Water – Check to see that it runs and that pressure is decent. Leaks are not uncommon (so don’t abandon the deal if you find them) but make sure to have the landlord fix them before you move in. Make sure that the water heater(s) work and that they are large enough to accommodate your needs (in the winter hot water can be in short supply).
Electricity – Check that outlets work, and that there are enough of them. If outlets do not work, make sure that the landlord has them fixed before you move in. Also, make sure that the circuit breaker is clearly labelled.
Bugs – Keep your eyes open for these whenever you look at a property. Some bugs are inevitable in an Egyptian property, but you want to take care to avoid a potential infestation. If you end up stuck with one and don’t mind the health risks, consider having the property exterminated before you move in. Also consider having screens installed in windows and along balconies to keep out flies and mosquitoes.