Thursday 3 December 2015
sunny and surprisingly warm - up to 20 degrees
Up early and OH had not brought in very much stuff from the car, which was packed to the roof with stuff. Consequently, not much chaos in the house. Took him tea in bed and he was looking exhausted from a short crossing, being woken at 5.15 for breakfast and driving for thirteen hours down France.
Out in the morning sunshine and hang around on the market, waiting for a lady brought to me by happenstance. Back in the UK I had two good friends in the town where I lived and the lady I was waiting for is the ex sister in law of one of them. By what curious turn of fate would she have bought near me in this little corner of France? She is Scottish and an artist and the effort of moving out of her French home, having just sold it via Leggetts, must be telling on her brain because she rings me and it turns out she has gone to the wrong town. Have a coffee whilst I am waiting and the bar owner says they are still looking for property and do I have anything really, really cheap and I think of a house which no one ever likes but may be likable if the price was really, really low. Arrange to meet them after the early afternoon clients.
The lady finally appears in a huge rentavan from the UK and we go on the terrace at the grand hotel and enjoy the brilliant winter sunshine. A very nervous waiter brings us two cups of lukewarm coffee and we have to insist they heat it up. Chat for an hour - mostly about her art and she has been chosen to exhibit at a gallery which helped Banksy to become known and then about buy to let. She has a couple of properties in an area of Manchester which resembles Coronation Street and they can return 8%. We both have to take off many layers of coats, scarves and jumpers and the sun glasses come in handy.
Back home in a rush to prepare the bon de visite and quick pork pie and Seville orange before meeting 2 pm clients in a town 30 kms south. The mountains are stupendous and covered with snow like royal icing. A hawk watches from the telephone wire. Huge shoals of sparrows above the bare stalked fields; flexing and billowing on the clear high skies. The people are on time. She a petite blond lady. He tall and tattooed with a goatee beard and close shaved hair with a well waxed topknot. He looks Dutch but has no trace of an accent. I can sense his excitement about the snow and the mountains and ask if he is a snowboarder. He is...
To the first house, one which I have shown numerous times recently. Just latterly to the bar owners who have decided it is too difficult to figure out how to get in three private bathrooms. I think this could be the problem for this couple too. They want to do art holidays and did think 'barn' as does everyone else but in fact, this house has a huge 55m2 living room which could easily accommodate huge trestle tables for feeding and art. We were there an hour and then went to the really, really cheap house and alas, they loved it until they got through the door.
There are some houses which go immediately and there are some that stick. The location of this house is not great. It is semi detached and in a village without shops. No views. Road visible across a big field. Inside, you have a large dining kitchen with bathroom and bedroom off. People find that strange. A loo is tacked onto a corner of the kitchen. Actually now illegal. You then go through into a living room where the road side has no window and most of the wall is taken up by the massive former barn door. Consequently it is dark. There is no fireplace and therefore no focus for the room. There is also a loo tacked onto a corner of the room and two further bedrooms. Upstairs, which is only accessible by moving the dead body weight sofa, bringing over a ladder and squeezing through the trap door, is vast. There is a lovely south facing garden and barn which is long and narrow and mostly single level and therefore wouldn't cost a fortune to renovate.
When I first took the property to market, six years ago, it was 230000 euros. It is now 140000 euros and people still do not love it. The couple say they will be back on the 17th and want to revisit the first house. They go, taking their two lovely little dogs with them. One is a Jack Russell but young and not bitey. The other is a French bulldog cross and is hilarious, having the right sort of body but a completely different head. What mum would have called a Heinz dog (Heinz soup advertised that they had 57 different varieties of soup).
The bar owners arrive and they dont like it either. I email the owner to say sorry but no go. Wish I could have some good news for him. He gets back to say he is having a lot of interest in it. Interestingly, two properties I know of which have been for sale for years and years, have now sold. One with immense ugly outbuildings and another former farm house with a huge central room which none of the people I took could figure out what to do with. Stunning views. Drive home in lowering sun and bambis run across the road and play at the edges of the woods.
Make chili and watch Doc Martin. Tape the Last Kingdom as OH is now three episodes behind. Early night with hot water bottle. Very cold out. OH has plan to buy to let property in the South but is still very fixed on buying back in the North. As I expected, he is not keen on moving to a Mediterranean island and me being an estate agent to the rich and famous. I cant see the point of being back in the UK and not being near the boys. This is something which is going to be very difficult to overcome but on which I am not prepared to compromise. I have had it with rural farming communities.