Househunt in France successful…..???

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River view in Limoux
River view in Limoux

Mission accomplished in Limoux

Back in Limoux and this time with Keith and good Dutch friends Thea and Jan who came to meet us in Languedoc. Suited me very well as I feel that another opinion in our adventure is an added bonus especially as they have bought property abroad in the past.

Discussion with Thea, Jan and Keith
Discussion with Thea, Jan and Keith

We make appointments with the ‘immobiliers’ and off we went. I had decided to keep it at two houses, both in Limoux. They are quite different not only in size and opportunity but also in price and appearance. One is renovated very nicely and we don’t have to do much to get it ready as a rental while the other needs a substantial lick of paint and more, but is bigger and offers more options.

All four of us liked both and saw possibilities with each house. The discussion started over a good bottle of wine and after a decent night sleep we had come to a decision. Thea, Keith and I go for the renovated house while Jan was attracted to the other. I could see why as it is more of a challenge and it demands more entrepreneurial spirit.

No building inspection in France????

One thing they don’t do in France is a building inspection. This explains the many English programs with people who buy houses with huge problems. We therefore decided to get a builder to look at the house and via via I got hold of this guy called Simon. He spent a couple of hours with us in the house and examined everything. The house is over 100 years old and a little crack won’t make it fall down but we just wanted to make sure that we weren’t in for surprises, for our own peace of mind.

Building inspection in progress
Building inspection in progress

After Simon gave the house a positive vote we decided to make an offer. We had a figure in mind but went in and tried to test the waters with Olivier, the agent, first before we disclosed the offer we were considering. Olivier told us that he had valued the house on market price and that the seller followed his suggestion. There was a little room for negotiation but not much.

Any agent can off course say that however two other people from Limoux including Simon, our building inspector found the asking price very reasonable and thought it was market value.

Time for an offer!

We made an offer a little above the figure that Olivier initially dismissed and as expected the owner rejected it. She came back with a reasonable figure and we bounced back just under that amount. Unfortunately it was the weekend and we had to wait until Monday before we had a reply. By then we had gone to Spain but by midday we had a verbal agreement!

Beach at Roses, Spain
Beach at Roses, Spain

The process of buying a house in France is different than in other countries. In Australia it takes only 30 days unless the buyer and vendor agree on different settlement terms. We are looking at settlement on or before the 19th of September which is more than 2 months away.

There are a number of stages in the contract and the first one to sign is the ‘Promesse de Vente’. This has to be done with a solicitor and in generally the solicitor acts for both vendor and buyer. Sounds a bit contradictory but that is the way it is done in France.

We put our offer on paper together with the real estate agent. Also with him we name all the conditions we want to include. We expected just to put a number to paper and sign before we would be off to Spain.
In reality this process took a couple of hours. Olivier mentioned that we would be able to sign the ‘Promess de Vente’ on Thursday late afternoon which meant that we had to come back to Limoux, the day before we would leave for UK at 3 am in the morning.

Signing the initial contract

We said that this arrangement would not suit us and we forgot about it. Until we got an email from the solicitor at 12.30 on Thursday that we were expected in Chalabre at 2 pm to sign – 2.5 hours drive away.
After a bit of emailing backward and forward we arranged to give the solicitor power of attorney and sign on our behalf. We received the power of attorney and the contract only to find out that there were a number a number of mistakes such a wrong names, wrong address in Brisbane and incorrect sales price.

Street in Chalabre
Street in Chalabre

I corrected the mistakes and sent it back to the notaire in Chalabre. Another weekend looming and we still hadn’t got anything concrete. Monday morning I contacted our agent to express my concern as we still did not have an offer on paper and therefore no leg to stand on. This paid off and within an hour we had emails with the correct documents from the notaire.
We had a list of instructions on what to do with the power of attorney and finally Tuesday morning we sent it off. Fortunately within a couple of minutes we had a reply that all was good.

Finally a done deal…..??

Phew! Finally something on paper. The next step is that the notaire will send us the contract in Brisbane and after receiving that we get 7 days cooling off period. The vendor is locked in already and can’t withdraw. After the 7 days we have to pay a deposit and then we are locked in as well.
This is only one of the 3 contracts.

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