It’s always good to have a Plan B. Mine came unexpectedly when I was talking to my neighbor. He mentioned that the house on the other side of mine was for sale.
What I had heard about the house on a previous visit was that the owners used it occasionally for week-ends or vacations. So although the house had not been in use for at least a year or two I knew it was either habitable or could be with some minor work.
After the renovation nightmare my house still needs nearly as much done as when I bought it – and that is a lot. In addition the damp problem at the back wall of my house and the bedrock issue in the back on the ground floor had been revealed while getting renovation estimates for other work. The results being that it was going to take a lot more time, energy and money than originally planned just to make my house habitable.
The neighboring house is much larger than mine, nearly three times as large. Previously I would have thought that would be too big, but after living in the quirky rental house I discovered that I like having a lot of space. With plans for visits from family and friends I realized extra bedrooms would come in quite handy.
The back door of their 2nd floor (3rd floor by US standards) leads to a short flight of stairs that end just before my garden entrance. I found myself looking at the back stairs, on my way up the path to my garden, thinking how convenient that would be for access.
Later a second neighbor, who was renovating a house across the street, also mentioned that the house was for sale. That reinforced the thought of buying the house.
There was no À Vendre (for sale) sign on the house. I stopped at an Immobilier (real estate agent) up the street to inquire but they didn’t have anything on record for it.
The idea of looking into the house kept churning in my mind. Eventually I went to the Mairie (town hall) to get the name and address of the owner and wrote to her to verify that the house was for sale and find out the price. She replied via email.
In the catalogue of a different Immobilier I noticed another house that I had hoped to see. It’s 216 m2 with 11 rooms and land of 1419 m2. But it had already sold before I asked about it. The price was a bit over my budget at 55,000€, but wow what a property.
In the same catalogue there was a second house, showing only interior pictures, that was more within my budget, so it seemed worth looking into. I made an appointment to view the property.
Coincidentally the house I was shown was the one next door to mine.
The house needed a little more work than I had expected but that was reflected in the price so I shouldn’t have been surprised. The house has plumbing, electrical and heating all in working order, although the electrical needs to be updated.
I knew Mary had scheduled her visit in about a month (from the first viewing) so I let the Immobilière know that I would return to look at the house when my daughter arrived and emailed the owner to tell her the same.
Property sales are typically slow here so I felt fairly safe in waiting. But I believed if the house sold before I could make an offer that it just wasn’t meant to be. That said, whenever I saw or thought about the house it felt like it was already mine.
When my daughter and I saw the house together we took some measurements then I worked up a layout to see if my ideas were feasible. After that I had some additional questions which I posed to the owner in an email. The questions were difficult to explain so we made arrangements to meet at the property where I could point things out which made it much simpler to sort out the answers.
I was able to meet the current owner, her husband who spoke English, and her parents. Her parents are the ones who had used the house; her father had grown up there. They are all very nice.
Some of the furniture will be left in the house and they insisted on doing a cleaning even though I told them it wasn’t necessary.
Although I can’t remember exactly what the father said (it was in French) it was something to the effect that ‘he wanted the house to live’. I think we were all happy with meeting.
While there we came to an agreement on the price and the owner contacted the Immobilière to start the paperwork. The agent wasn’t very pleased that I had met with the owner directly; but I was glad I had the opportunity to meet her and her family.
Monday I signed the Compromis de Vente, the contract to buy the house. That is the beginning of a two to three month process to purchase a house in France, and that’s if there are no snags along the way…
I’m really hoping that the sale will be completed by the end of the year since my rental agreement is up at that time. While I’m waiting I’ll have to keep myself occupied with work on my current house, the garden, day-to-day tasks, taking long walks, appreciating the beauty that surrounds me, as well as enjoying time with friends and guests.
And in case people have been wondering “What’s taking so long on her house?” (as I’m sure some have) the answer is simple: I’ve opted for Plan B.