Saturday, June 27, 2015

Curiouser and curiouser and is that dry rot in the wainscoting?


Friday 26 June 2015

33 degrees - uncomfortably hot

Up early and run around making sure I have everything I need and all phone numbers.  I now automatically enter all buyer and seller details into my phone ahead of the visits and then if anything goes pear shaped or we are running late, I don't have to start fishing through my case for numbers.

When I take a client on a visit, I get them to sign a document called a Bon de Visite wherein they state that they have been introduced to the property and the owner by the agency and will not later on buy that property directly with the owner (until a period of one year after the expiration of the mandate - mandates last two years).  The bon de visite also shows the price and details relating to the property.  It is rare that people do try and go behind the back of the agency but it does happen and the BDV is our insurance policy.  

Get an email from the agency telling me the latest ramifications of the Loi Alur.  Laws here are named after the people who bring forward the bill and pass it into Law.  The latest thing relates to who officially pays agency fees.  It used to be that the agency fees were marked at the charge of the seller but that then meant that the buyer was paying notaries fees (average 8%) on the sale price including agency fees.  The notaries allowed in the compromis de vente to put the agency fees at the charge of the seller which meant the seller paid notaries fees on the sale price only.  The Loi Alur states that this change can no longer be made and that the agency fees, if marked at the charge of the buyer, must be clearly marked on the advert.  As you can imagine, the agency is not keen on doing this.  Fees over here run at about 6% compared to UK fees of 1.5%.

Someone said to me a couple of weeks ago 'you people charge far too much'.  I wonder if he says that to his doctor or dentist or car mechanic?  Say the fees are 10000 euros on a sale, this is often how it breaks down for me

Fees                            10000
Introducer 10%              1000 
                                    ---------
net                                  9000
deduct VAT 20%            1800
                                    ----------
net                                  7200
agency 50%                   3600
                                    ---------
net                                  3600
RSI 45%                         1620
                                    ---------
                                       1980

Just under 2000 euros for up to six months anguish and gnashing of teeth, keeping everyone happy, sorting out all problems, translations, hundreds of emails and phone calls. I am not making the fortune people think I am.  Being an introducer is the best.  You send over the details by email, often not having even bothered to contact them by phone.  You send in your bill at the end.  Simples.

The first visit is for 11 am and the couple are young and enthusiastic.  They jump in with me and I ask them to tell me about their project and the guy decides to tell me in such a quiet voice that I cant hear him over the road bumps and potholes and we arrive with me not a lot the wiser.  The road up to the chateau is very badly rutted and they grip the handles on the doors and smile wildly.  For once, the son is there and he greets us and we go into the house.  The couple start off smiling but as I take them into room after room after room and then into the outbuildings, they start looking scared.  I leave them to talk and go and sit on a bench with the son, in the shade and scent of the great lime trees.  The air is heady with their perfume and a million bees are zapping industriously between the nectar rich blossoms.

I have not met the son before.  He is tremendously negative about the house.  I say his mother says that the roof is in good condition and the insurance is sorting out the water damage.  He says the roof is in bad condition, the tiles all need replacing, the insurance has refused to touch the damage with a barge pole because it was done deliberately by his mother.  He adds that she has emptied the pool, which is very large, and the pressure of the earth has cracked the concrete.  For good measure, he takes me into the ballroom and pulls back some boxes.  I am horrified to see enormous mushrooms on the beautiful wainscoting.  Merule or dry rot.  As well as destroying the house, this is extremely dangerous for the health of the one inhabitant, his 87 year old mother.  I say he must get it treated immediately and he admits he has known about it for some time and has done nothing.  I write to the elder son, who is much more sensible.

The visit finishes and I go for a coke with the couple who say they cannot take on a project of that size and I show them a couple of other properties on my site and they say they will think about seeing them at the start of next week.  I hope it is not Tuesday because the forecast is 41 degrees and I will expire.

Order a sandwich and it is the size of a barrage balloon.  Roast pork and crudités.  If you ask for salade in France, you just get lettuce.  If you want mixed salad, crudités are what you want.  Drink lots of water.  The Place shimmers in the heat and small birds discuss the matters of the day from the Mairie rooftop.

1.30 arrives all too quickly and the next client for the chateau.  He is on time and he follows me up the rutted pathway.  This time the son has really got his act into gear and comes around with us, pointing out every bad thing in every room.  Despite his best attentions, the client (who bears an amazing resemblance to Roger Federer, including boxers nose) really likes the house.  He likes it at 195000 euros under the asking price and says he will send around his roofing guy to look at it.  He leaves and I tell the son that his 'help' will probably result in a very low offer.  He really doesn't care.  He just wants his mother to sell.  His mother, on a day which is very very hot, is on the terrace eating a pot of steaming beef stew and potatoes and reading a massive novel with, I suspect, a strong romantic theme if the cover is anything to go by. I leave and need to rehydrate.  Go to a little tea shoppe and have the most delicious ginger ice cream and a lot of water.

I have a client arriving Monday and she wants to see the house of a local lady.  I bumped into the lady a couple of weeks ago and she said she wanted to sell.  Now she is not answering either her phone or emails and doesn't respond to me banging on her door.  She has changed her mind and is too bloody chicken to tell me.  I shall have to find something else for the woman to see as she is coming over specially on the train from over in Sète on the Etang de Thau, a massive inland lake on the Med side

L'étang de Thau vu depuis Sète
« Barrou Neighbourhood, Étang de Thau, Sète 01 » par Christian Ferrer. Sous licence CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

I get back in the car and the thermometer is registering 32 and I feel appallingly hot.  Go to my next appointment and park in the shade but it is still very uncomfortable so have to sit with engine on and air con blasting.  The couple arrive early and we zip off up the hill to the farmhouse with the huge black dogs.  The dogs are zipping around outside and are thrilled to see me.  I tell them to be sage and not to eat my clients and they go back under the shade of the BBQ area and I show the house.  A breeze starts to blow and the Pyrenees are a delicate shimmering lilac on the horizon.  A skylark hovers and sings in the high heavens. The house, a solid stone construction, welcomes us into its cool and shady interior and the couple seem quite taken and say they will get back to me next week after having seen some other propositions.

I, at last, can go home and drink tea and cool off.  Step out of the car and the temperature has dropped to 25 and I shiver.  This is ridiculous.

Watch a recorded episode of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.  I wonder what substance the author was on when he wrote this book?  It gets curiouser and curiouser



Being a real estate agent is like going down the rabbit hole.  Something very curious is that only the place where I am seems like reality.  When I am back in the UK, it is as if my life in France is just a dream and that it doesnt exist at all.