Monday 1 June 2015
25 degrees overcast and 'heavy'
The French sigh and blow out their cheeks in weather like this. They say it is 'lourd' or heavy. The stickiness and heat make you feel tired and lethargic. Duvets feel too heavy and when you open the bedroom windows in the morning, hot and bored flies come into the room in search of a cooler corner. They spend the day dancing around the lampshade and covering the surfaces of the bulbs and mirrors in Morse code. They leave a lot of messages in particular on the window sills and even wiping it off leaves a yellow residue.
OH blows out his cheeks and says he needs to paint. He doesn't feel up to painting so he decides to concrete some pots onto the posts in the garden. Last year they all blew off in a high wind and I dumped the broken lilies on the border at the side where, to my surprise, they took root and are about to flower with their feet safely in the ground. He spends about an hour and fixes the pots in place and it is so hot that the concrete dries to sand and the pots now have a rim of friable material which, fortunately brushes off.
We do some emails and run through tasks and have lunch. OH says he needs five minutes - he has a headache - and goes to bed for nearly two hours. He looks glassy eyed when he gets up. I go to colleague's house to pick up some keys. Her husband is an artisan and she has a garden full of broken tiles and a play house which is lurching over at a 30 degree angle. It makes me laugh every time I see it. It looks like an abandoned dog house where the dog had some effort to pull himself free. We have a cup of tea and I recount the story of the imploding US sale. She has been busy bringing on mandates and now has over 110 properties. She is overtaking me on our website. I need to get my act in gear. Back home and walk the dog and don't feel brilliant myself.
Other colleague rings up and says that client who blew him out this morning now wants to see a house which we both know and can I show it for them tomorrow? Fortunately my planned visits are in the afternoon. I have one client whose name sounds like sicky and another one called puker. Hope this is not an omen.
Read a comment on my blog saying they love my style but find events hard to keep up with. Time for a run through?
1. Dead as dodo - AA/SC - showed this house New Years day - AA people made an offer and then withdrew. Didn't hear any more until March when the seller SC rang to say that AA had come back in with very low offer after seeing the house on a private seller site. Seller asked me to contact them. AA informed me that as they had 'negotiated' the sale themselves, my fees should be 50%. I informed them that they had tried to cut me out and the seller was too honest to play their game. (Once I show a property to a prospective buyer, they are no longer permitted to buy that house privately). A couple of weeks went by and AA then came back and said they would go via me and we were in the middle of wrangling over fees when another agent came onto the scene. SC had forgotten that she had arranged a private visit and LB came to the house with her sister. No sellers at the house so LB and her sister went into town and got another agent to come out with the keys. LB made an offer which SC accepted and went in and signed the offer document. AA went nuts and offered more money to SC who then tried to renege on the deal with LB. LB threatened to take her to Tribunal as did AA. Went on until mid May when suddenly AA backed out. She is now over in mid June and OH is very keen that I have nothing to do with her as he thinks she is duplicitous bastard.
2. Madmen - the Russians who drove over to see the llama farm over 1.5 hours away from where I live. How often do you get a llama farm with gites? Not very often, which is why I took it on. The Russians loved it. They drove home and rang me up and made a full price cash offer. We thought it was Christmas in March. They drove back again for the compromis. They asked for three weeks to pay the deposit. Everyone went away very happy. A week went by. No one was worried. Two weeks went by and I went with OH to Spain for a holiday. The sellers rang me incessantly and went nuts. I rang the buyers and they said there were no worries but there had been a little delay. I tried to reassure the sellers who then started talking about pulling out of the deal. It transpired that the 'big amount of money' arriving by the end of May just didn't exist. The Russians had no money at all, the compromis became null and void and they never did want to tell me where the money was coming from or when it would arrive. Meanwhile, another couple who had just missed out on the property came back in. They were thrilled with the second bite at the cherry but not so thrilled as to make a decent offer. They made a lower offer which at first the sellers accepted and then later backed out themselves and said they didn't want to sell any more. Well, not for a couple of years. My buyers were distraught and said they would wait for as long as it takes. They did not up their offer.
3. ST/PSC - English couple. French sellers. Compromis signed before they went home, deposit received, coasting smoothly to Acte end July.
4. MD/KC - these are NZ ladies who came over on boiling hot weekend in April. They made an initial offer on a house where it transpired that the owner had not paid attention when he signed the mandate and wasn't in fact selling the two flats with the house: the price was for the house alone. He said he had a better offer for the house and flats and wouldn't sign mine, even though it was the full price of the mandate, where officially we should have been able to force the sale or ask for fees. I left a copy of the signed offer with him. Big mistake - I wont be doing that again. I was running around with ST/PSC so left the ladies with OH who took them to see the lovely Villa and they also loved this one. They then made an offer on the Villa which was accepted and signed the offer letter. To my amazement, and horror, the owner of the first property came back, announced that his various other better offers were all dependent on large amounts of financing, and therefore he would accept the ladies offer, providing we took a huge hit on commission. I told him that they had moved on and were buying something else and he showed my offer letter to his advocate and tried to force the ladies to buy his house. Fortunately, the offer letter was so incomplete that it was not valid as a legal document. One of the owners of the Villa died. The notary took forever to complete the paperwork. The ladies came back when it was cold and wet and insisted on having quotes before signing the compromis. I drafted in AW who is an excellent builder and they felt reassured by his confidence and assurance that the work was mostly cosmetic. There were termites but very localised. Compromis signed last week and Acte for end of July. Have started to breath again on this one.
5. YMR/MD - MD came over when we were on holiday so I asked SF to show the house and the couple made an offer and we have only just managed to extract the draft compromis out of the sellers notary. Very rude etude on the coast. A few modifications to make but that is all. Compromis set for 16 June.
6. me and OH/LPMR - when oh when will the draft compromis be drawn up on the sale of our big rental unit. LPMR went to see their notary three weeks ago and they have only just sent over the buyer details to my notary. She is now beavering to produce the document for this week. Am very keen to get this signed and the loan agreement accord received and then we will know definitively that it is sold.
7. About to implode spectacularly. LM/PB. LM is on her camino ( path ) a keen and dedicated pilgrim and very active Catholic, she blew into our local town from an easterly tip of the States last August. I showed her a number of houses but only one fitted the bill. A quirky property, full of staircases and rooms, built into the walls of the town. A hidden courtyard, a rooftop terrace, a long garden, a deck. A house that scared the crap out of the French clients I took to it. LM loved it at once and made a low offer. The seller lives in the Middle East and we had some difficulty catching up with one another. An agreement was thrashed out. LM had a guy check out the heating and electrics and plumbing. It transpired that the boiler was 35 years old and didn't turn on - not what I had been told by the seller's mother who lived in an uneasy upstairs/downstairs relationship with her husband; who hates his drinking, smoking and volatile behaviour. (she lives upstairs, he lives downstairs). The house smells of dogs and fags and the kitchen ceiling is yellow like a Pub Snug bar. I was amazed when LM offered on it. She wasn't even put off by the neighbours, most of whom are unemployed and spend the time hanging around, letting their kids run off, and smoking.
There was a lot of very tedious wrangling over non disclosure of various faults by the seller's mother and the complete refusal of the seller to communicate directly. Finally, a deal was struck and the compromis was signed on 17 December. The seller's mother then went off to NZ to stay with her daughter and if I wanted to go into the house I had to ring around all the bars in town to track down the seller's father. He never answered the house phone and sometimes in the bars he would answer and sometimes he would just run out of the bar.
LM had to sell her house in the States in order to purchase here. In March the snows started - metres of the stuff. The town was immobilised - in fact most of the State was immobilised. It went on for weeks; her roof and driveway were damaged and it was too dangerous for people to visit the house. March turned into April. No sale. April turned into May and LM decided to take on a big agency and they brought a buyer and the house was sold last week. Last Thursday to be exact. It was on walking out of the signing of the house that LM's husband suddenly announced that he didn't want to sell their house, he didn't want to buy in France, in fact he didn't want anything to do with France and if LM left, their ten year old son would be staying with him in the USA. This burst like an evil, smelly bomb last week. At the same time, the seller had informed me, in a very tetchy email full of upper case threats and exclamation marks, that if LM didn't sign on the due date of 30 June, it would be the Tribunal for them.
Yesterday morning, LM said that her husband might refinance the house and give her the money. At lunchtime she wrote and said that she wished the seller's mother could know that it will not happen on 30 June. In the evening she said she wanted the sale to go onto the end but it was a long shot and her husband was being unreasonable on all fronts. The seller still knows nothing. His mother has taken a flat nearby and is moving the stuff out for the end of June. As soon as I let them know things are about to fold, things will get very nasty, very quickly. We need a miracle on this one.
8. Signed and relief that I will never have to see these people again. AR/SDH. AR came over with her French husband at about this time last year. I showed them a number of properties, including one in a lovely village with Chateau and river. It was on the top end of their budget but didn't really fit their criteria as, at that point, they were buying with the lady's sister. They left, made an offer on a town centre property in our town and I really ground my teeth because I also had that property and hadn't thought to show it. The sister then backed out of the deal and AR could no longer afford the house. I rang them up to see how they had gotten along and she updated me and said that they had really loved the village house but it was too expensive. I said I would get them a deal for the price they could afford, negotiated it with the owner who was thrilled and delighted, but had just let the house for nine months. AR refused to buy before the tenants were out. As it turned out, they left before Christmas because they said the house was like a freezer. The buyers started going on about the septic tank, which couldn't be found, and I went around with a technician to get a quote. The house interior was in poor repair and, alarmingly, there were big cracks in the kitchen. It took some arm wrestling to get the seller to sort them out and redecorate. We signed on this one in January. Since, I don't think the buyers have passed a month without going in to see the notary and complain about something or other. The notary says they are frightful. The latest thing they have is that she has stolen a stone trough from the garden. This was never on the list. So glad I wont have to see the husband again, although the wife is charming. But not as glad not to see as no. 9
9. AM/DB. I thought DB would push me over the edge. For the first time in my career, I walked out of a notaire's office, slamming the door behind me, and burst into tears. I passed it over to the business manager who confirmed my estimation of this particular buyer's character. AB - absolute bastard. DB came over in the middle of the year and was accompanied by his wife and small child. They came to see a house which had been for sale for over ten years. Overlooking the river and with a huge terrace and medieval arches, the location was superb. Inside was a war zone where the owner had been doing DIY for 15 years. It was a total and absolute mess. The small child attempted to throw himself over the edge of the terrace and plunge down the vertiginous slope to the river pounding along, far below. Negotiations were very, very long. About five months. DB argued down to the price of the mats in the hallways. I developed palpitations and a twitch in my eye. I rang the agency and asked for help which is how the business manager got involved. He finally thrashed out the deal whilst I had a week in my garden to calm my nerves and get some sleep. The day of the compromis arrived and it was at this moment that the seller chose to announce that either I could reduce fees by 20% or he was walking out. I was forced to agree and it was at this point that I left, doorslamming, and tearful. I never, ever want to see any of these people again.