On Wednesday 22nd August Antony the Agent, our Angel Number One, phoned us in the afternoon with the news that Mme Beranger, the vendor, would accept 1,000 euros more than the last person had offered. This meant the house could be ours. We were filled with so many different emotions; euphoria, fear, excitement, panic.................
In the next blog:
We dashed into Descartes to see him in his office to confirm our offer and talk about the next step. I asked if we could possibly trouble him with a third visit to check a few things out. We came away with the key !!!
We had arranged to meet Barrie and Lucie in the bar to tell them how we had got on. To their absolute amazement, we dangled the key under their noses and off we all sped up the hill to the little cottage to have an unchaperoned look around. It was chucking it down with rain and almost dark but the little house welcomed us in. It was full of horrendous huge old French furniture, junk and "brocante" but it felt wonderful to be there within what would soon be our own four walls.
We skipped back down to the bar and celebrated with a few glasses of the PreHisto's best Vouvray. The restless spirit in the gite didn't bother us that night and we slept extremely well.
The next morning, as soon as it was polite to do so, we went back to the house to have a proper look round, armed with tape measure, notebook and camera. The sun was shining again. The one room downstairs had no windows, only three doors; the front door with an ugly shutter on it, the french doors to the terrace and the glazed door to the little kitchen extension on the side of the house. (Plus the intrnal door to the bathroom.) There had been a large window in the room which was still there on the outside but was blocked up and plastered over inside. Several people have suggested that this would have been to save money on window tax. (Can anybodly remember when that was?) The only other original window in the house is to the shower room, which is actually a tiny space stolen from the one room, and we suspect that was probably a door when it was built. They saved a lot of tax, then - there were no windows.
They agent had told us that Mme Beranger wanted to know if we would like to buy any of her furniture. He then told us not to offer anything for it as she would probably leave it all anyway - she lived in a very small flat in Paris and had no room for it. We sincerely hoped she would NOT just leave it all. We certainly didn't relish the idea of spending our first few holidays sorting out and disposing of it. No doubt some of the furniture and ornaments were quite desirable and even valuable but it would take a long time to go throught it all and we would probably end up keeping stuff that we really didn't want.
There was only one item in the whole house that I would have liked: a white china cake stand, shaped like a daisy. When I had mentioned this to Antony, he said "take it, you have bought it with the house". I was horrified - to me that would simply have been stealing. Daft, I know, but it's the way I was brought up - you don't take anything without asking first.
As we came away from the house, the neighbour asked us in to take a "petit thé ou café" with her. It was an interesting half hour as she doesn't speak a single word of English (why should she?) and our French was not that good either. We managed to tell her that we would be buying the house and hoped to make it look a lot tidier as soon as we could. Living next to two sad and neglected properties must be depressing and annoying. She was able to tell us quite a bit about Mme Beranger, who had lost her husband about 5 years ago.
The next day, Friday, we handed the key back so that various surveys could be done. This is where things things really started to get serious. The process of buying a house in France is slightly different from in the UK and in many ways better, we thought. Once the deal is struck it is difficult for either party to back out. Therefore, there is little chance of a vendor finding that the buyer has thought of an excuse to drop the price by a few thousand at the last minute, nor can the vendor back out and take the property off the market. Both things can make moving house sheer hell in the UK.
In the next blog:
The tricky bit - the paperwork.