Monday, May 23, 2011

RETURNING TO FRANCE PERMANENTLY – ARRANGING REAL ESTATE SALES

Our village house in Cazouls has served us well but it is not suitable as a permanent retirement home. It has no garden; the patio is too small for comfortable, open-house, sloppy partying; and two twisty flights of stairs to the top floor is just too many for a woman with two replaced knees and a husband who is just plain lazy. So we have three real estate transactions to accomplish in order to make our permanent move to France. We have to sell our houses in Cazouls and in the USofA and we have to buy the house in which we will live in France permanently. We’ve thought carefully about how to time these transactions, making our move as efficiently as possible. Here’s the plan. Time will tell how closely the plan mirrors reality.

First, we’ll put the Cazouls house on the market. We’ve contacted Freddy Rueda, the agent who sold us the house, and may contact one or two others as well. We have to learn a bit more about the way real estate sales happen in France. We know that there is nothing like the multi-list system that we have in the Colonies – that is, you contract with one agent who has exclusive rights to show/sell your house for a fixed period of time and then your house goes up for grabs on the multi-list and any agent who subscribes to the list can take a crack at it. As we understand it, in France your agent is your agent. No multi-list. The question is: Can you contract with more than one agent? Is it legal? Is it ethical?

And one more consideration. We have a good bit of equity in the house. How do we handle that from across the Pond? I’m reasonably certain that we could make the basics happen – pay off the mortgage and have the equity check deposited in our French checking account. But there are complicating factors. We have a tenant in the house into September. Must we wait to put the house on the market until then? Although we plan to sell the house furnished, there are items that we’d like to retain – paintings on the walls, clothing, and other personal and household items that we’d like to negotiate with a prospective buyer to store for us. Could any real estate agent, having been named as agent on a power of attorney for the purpose, be trusted to follow French law and our instructions to the letter? Would he or she act solely in our interests or be tempted to turn a quick buck?

So we’ve asked friends if they can recommend a lawyer and we’ll meet with our personal banker to discuss the matter as well.

Next steps and answers to these and other questions to follow.

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