20 July 2014


house hunting6 

Our brief to the various agents was that essentially we were looking for a house that was simply a bigger version of what we have now.  One with character, possibly one more bedroom, but importantly a larger garden and more storage or living space, outdoor storage or a large garage, and private parking. 

house hunting6a

We have a fondness for old houses but would look at any age of house, as long as it had “character”.  You can of course change the inside of a house to give it character by moving the plasterboard walls and redecorating, but this one was pretty near the top of our budget so there would not have been enough left in the kitty for all that if we had bought it.

We have friends who live in a 1960’s house which has great character and a nice layout – one like that would be fine.

house hunting6e

We didn’t want a swimming pool, but for the right house we would take one.  We would like to be in a village but not necessarily.  A hamlet would be fine so long as we were not too hemmed in.  Not too isolated but outside of a village with good facilities would be fine.  We don’t mind having to get in our car or on a bicycle (or motorcycle) to fetch our baguettes but being more than twenty minutes from any shops might be an issue.  Or might not, if the house was so good that we would compromise on that.  There should also be dog walking territory nearby.

house hunting6d

We knew that there were bound to be compromises, at our budget.

  house hunting6c  

We had given up hope of finding exactly what we want in Le Grand-Pressigny.  There are plenty of houses for sale but none of them were right.  There are plenty of houses that would be just right but none of them are for sale.  Or at least they don’t seem to be for sale.  With the French system of house selling/buying you can never tell.  Most of the ones that are for sale don’t have a big sign on them saying they’re for sale.  It’s all very secretive, for reasons one can only speculate on.

house hunting6b

We also most definitely do not want a renovation project.  At our age we would be happy to do decorating, alter the garden, put in a new kitchen or bathroom but it would have to be the right price.  There was no point in buying something at the top of our budget that needed a huge amount of money spending to make it into the house of our dreams.  (Our “forever house” as a friend put it.)  If we were to buy a house at the top of our budget it would have to be in a “move straight in” condition.  If only!

The above house ticked most of our boxes.  It was a lovely renovation of an old house, with a good sized barn and a nice garden.  Currently used as a gite, it was minimally furnished (a refreshing change from having to imagine what was underneath mounds of clutter) and painted throughout in white, giving it a light and airy feel.

The garden had nice views over open country, and a pool.  The barn stood between the house and the garden, meaning the house itself only had a view of its own small courtyard at the front (the back was along the roadside).

It didn’t quite feel like what we wanted, definitely more like a holiday home that a real home, but it was undoubtedly a possibility if nothing else turned up.  With two houses down and another six to view that day we were hopeful that something would turn up and we needed to press on.


  1. Ah the secretive thing.... Nearly gave the agent a heart attack when I casually mentioned I knew where the house was that we were going to see when we were looking in 2010. Had to spend an age explaining that no...we hadn't viewed via someone else. We'd used Google maps to see if we could find it to judge where it was in relation to the village. Agent remained deeply unsettled. :-)

    1. The daft thing is, the secrecy means that you actually waste an awful lot of the agent's time and your own time under the French system.
      Most of the houses we saw would have been rejected if we could have done a preliminary "drive by" to see where it was or what the garden was like, as you can do in the UK.
      With every one we saw we had to waste time pretending we were genuinely interested in order to be polite, especially if the owner was there. The whole process can be quite depressing.

  2. It is a lovely-looking home. But I can see the pool would be a drawback. Unless you had a lot of neighbour children, whose parents would supervise them when they came of a swim, and help with the gardening after that.

    More to see. Bonne Chance!

    Blessings and Bear hugs.

  3. Hi, Jean. Thanks for sharing your house quest with us. (One of our favorite shows is "House Hunters International".)
    I'm curious: How far out are you casting your net? Are you looking outside of the Indre-et-Loire?

    1. Dean, for now we're looking very clse to where we already live as we feel very at home here. The idea of starting all over again in a new area does not appeal to us, but if we can't find anything here in a few weeks we will widen our circle.

  4. The secrecy is all about agents' fees, I think. They are paranoid about buyers finding houses without their aid. I know what you mean about a house being more a holiday home than a full-time one. The one you show is a very attractive house, but i would want a view from the house itself, not just the garden.

  5. There are so many factors that go into what makes a house perfect for somebody, and it’s rare that one place ticks every one of your (or our) boxes.

    Not only do you have to look for the right location, right amount of space, right size garden, right layout, you have to be sure the heating system/plumbing/wiring/roof/water supply--all the boring stuff--is workable. I’m glad my own interest is only theoretical at this point and I’m just happy to be able to tag along on your search.

    I know what I want in a house. I also know that I’ve rarely seen it in real life. Since my search is theoretical (we’re not moving), I can set very high standards. I know of course that if I were actually looking I'd have to compromise.

  6. Jean, maybe people don't put up A Vendre signs because they don't want people dropping or driving slowly by all the time. I see a lot of A Vendre signs around our area, and the different agents have hundreds of listing. Nothing keeps you from calling on several agents to help you. And then there are the notarial offices. They all have scores or hundreds of listings too, and you don't have to pay an agent's fee if you work with them. Remember, the buyer, not the seller, pays the 6% or 7% agent's fee. In the U.S., it's the opposite: the seller pays the fee.

    1. Ken, it's the seller who pays the fees in the UK too. Also two sets of legal fees, one to sell the old house and one to buy the new one.
      It's a costly business.

  7. I could fall in love with this very quickly, I think. With a "reject" like this, it gives me hope (and I hope you) that you'll find something to your liking.