Monday 6 April 2015
Warm and sunny 20 degrees
Up early and down town to wait in the big hotel car park. I try and get some internet signal on my phone and still no joy. The whole system must be on overload – I can always normally pick up as soon as I get to the top of the hill. OH goes to look if he can see the clients and there is a knock on my window and it is a fair haired, nervous looking man peering through round rimmed glasses and clutching a wad of papers. I get out of the car, signal to OH who is busy looking in the opposite direction and we go to meet Madame.
She is of a far more exotic appearance and erupts from their silver hire car, hand extended and a wide and generous smile offered to me. Built on traditional lines, as Alexander McCall Smith would describe her form, she is sporting immaculate white clothing, very ritzy chrome and red handbag and her tiny feet are enclosed in impractical leopard skin effect pumps. I know within an instant that she is not going to like any of the properties I have lined up.
We go for a coffee in the lobby of the hotel and have a general chat and the lady tells me about her grandchildren whilst OH tries to get more useful information from the man. Then to the first visit – a bungalow belonging to a partner agent and priced at 199000 euros. We are there about five minutes. The lady says it is poor and dirty. Thank heavens the owners don’t live there. Off to the next house which is of the best quality of the ones on offer this morning. This goes down better but the garden is too small. The lady wants a large terrace where she can have entertainments with her family and friends. She also wants a veg garden. She looks as if her hands have never touched dirt. She says both houses are and then makes a roof shape with her hands and taps her fingers together. F knows what that means.
As we come out of the second house, I tell them that we need to have a rethink – none of the ones I have planned for tomorrow or Wednesday are going to fit the bill. Good thing that OH ignored their budget and insisted that I made an appointment for quite an expensive house this afternoon otherwise we may have lost their confidence entirely. Drop them off back at their gite and go back home for lunch and then to the flat to see what else I can come up with. Book in two decent properties for tomorrow, email partner agent and ask what else she can come up with.
The afternoon visit goes much better and they love the property, don’t say anything about the fact that it is 50k over their ‘budget’ but the sticking point is that it is out in the countryside. One problem is that I gave OH the wrong directions at the dustbins at the end of the road, so we did do the rounds of quite a few narrow lanes before finding it. The last visit is to the English couple’s house which I took on a week ago. The reaction of the clients is very positive until I get them through the front door. They live in London and are used to many toilets, many bathrooms, beautiful kitchens and have never heard of a septic tank. Looking at property here is coming over as quite a culture shock. Reminds me of the time I took a university house mate, born and lived all his life in Southampton, to Blackpool Tower Ballrooms and then to the promenade and then the illuminations. Still, it is a visit and useful to see the reaction of a potential buyer.
Drop them off back in town where they go to look at the art festival and hopefully not to bump into any other estate agents. OH goes back home and I treat myself to an ice cream in the internet café before going back to the rental units, catching up on emails and phone calls and then back home.
OH has managed to recharge the tractor lawnmower and is whizzing around the rapidly drying top lawn so I take the dog out around the block and then we warm up the steak aux poivre made yesterday. Tomorrow will see if these people are real – I will show them the perfect house in the perfect location. They are here for a total of two weeks. The lady said to me today ‘do you think I am awkward? Can you put up with me for two weeks’? The answer of course is ‘yes’ and ‘I will be obliged to’. It would be great to actually spend as a holiday one of the many public holidays where we live. It just never happens.