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BUYING AND SELLING A HOUSE IN FRANCE: QUICK TAKES #6

 

Little things can trip you up. 

Just about everyone of a certain age has purchased a house at one time in their lives. I realize that the current common wisdom is that the old aspiration of owning your own home instead of renting may be passé, but I still cast my vote for the benefits and satisfaction of ownership. We have lived that philosophy. Cathey and I have bought four houses in our several decades of marriage and we’ve sold two. A third is on the market. (I’m open to offers.) Let’s talk about some of the oddities of the process in France.

 GETTING YOUR MONEY BACK

You never do, do you? Below is a picture of how the kitchen looks today and, under that, a picture of the kitchen the day that we bought the house. You just can't put a value on that kind of work. 


THE MAYOR

The latest hurdle to clear if you are selling a property in France is getting the signature of your mayor. Why? To ensure that the village does not have plans for the property. Playground? Parking lot? Whatever. The mayor needs to sign off.

Gilbert’s a good guy. He’s the only mayor I’ve known since we moved here and he’s recently been elected to another six-year term. The one time that I needed his signature, on a document concerning something other than a property sale, he was most obliging. Signed on a weekend. But as you learn the longer that you live in France, every additional signature on a document can add weeks to its completion. That’s why I am reluctant to complain about the occasional noisy party down the street or the crap oven by the sidewalk in front of the house next door. I don’t want to be the needy, pushy foreigner.

So I let stuff slide that my French neighbors might find unacceptable. There may come a time that I will want Gilbert to be my friend in City Hall. Like when we sell our house.

MANSPLAINING 

When we were signing our agreement to buy the house that will suit us better in the coming years, I was surprised at the level of animosity exhibited by Madame Villa, the owner. I don't know whether Monsieur Villa is her second husband or if, for tax/inheritance purposes, they decided to put the house in her name alone, but clearly the Madame was in charge. And the Madame was not happy.

It seems that the agent through whom we are purchasing the house had fallen out of favor. When he would call the Villa household to ask questions or provide information, he would talk to Monsieur. Monsieur would then relay the gist of the discussion to Madame. And Madame did not appreciate all of the mansplaining concerning a deal that she was coming to believe might not be in her best interests. You see, the day that we signed the papers, the house was advertised by a brand new agency for a higher price than we were paying.

My advice to you, free of charge and worth every penny from a man on the cusp of his Golden Anniversary? Don't mansplain stuff to a fiery old lady who holds the reins of power. If the decision is hers, stay out of the way. On second thought, don't just stay out of the way. Run, do not walk, to your safe space while the deal goes down.

THE PRICE OF PROCRASTINATION

Ya know that smudge on the wall that I left when I bumped up against it when my forearm was smeared with burn salve because I'd reached into our car's hot motor to grab an errant fluid cap? How about the unpainted plaster around the skylight? The roofing around it has been sealed for over two years. Speaking of plaster, how about repairing the bit at the bottom of the stairs that got kicked out a while back? And the shutters on either side of the newly painted front door are different colors, one set wears the new color and the other, the old.

I know that stuff like that looks funny to prospective buyers. They are simple jobs. I should have done the work in a timely fashion, But I procrastinated. I'm old. It's France. So what? Well, I'm trying to sell the house. Every little undone piece of work is a black mark. So I paint and I plaster and slowly, the house is getting into ship shape. Maybe I should bump the price.


Comments

  1. Love following this adventure.
    Hope all is well,
    André

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s been a ride. Thanks for your interest. The road goes on. Stay tuned.

      Delete

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