A French Rollercoaster
Updated: Feb 10, 2022
oh dear, it really is! Hold on to your seat belts please!
Hello again my friends, it's been a while, too long really! Sorry.
I had intended to start my new but old blog, right back at the starting point in late 2016, at the very beginning if you like, but after an absolute day of it, yesterday, I decided to start right here, right now! Where better eh!
I can fill in the blanks for you later I guess!
Those of you that already know me well, will know all about my crazy journey from living in the Middle East in late 2016, starting my personal blog that was initially 'a very unfrench wife' to where I am now, which is back in France for the second time, well into the second year, giving France living another semi reluctant go.
I'm all for the dream, of course I am, but achieving it is not quite happening!
It's been quite the exhausting adventure so far, one way or another, not always good and certainly not always easy, but we did feel we were finally turning a sweet corner lately, ever so slightly, until last night that is.
Let me try and explain!
'The French Wreck' we bought in 2017, in much haste, has haunted us for over four years until we finally found a very keen, excited buyer who was up for the project just a few months ago. I call the property a 'a very complicated wreck' because she was certainly in much better shape when we bought her than when we found her, after returning from a year in Canada, in early 2020!
Sadly, we had entrusted the 'care taking' of said wreck to a 'friend', paid, of course! This friend amongst other chores, was to keep a check on the pump in the cellar, until we could get the project started. We were very content, knowing that the one issue that could upend everything, would be taken care of!
As I mentioned, we excitedly returned early last year and by the time we got to see the project, it was May 2020, thanks COVID! From the date of the mail piled up in the mail box, we could tell that the house had not been checked since the beginning of October 2019 and I vividly remember the shock on my husbands face when he opened the door, to the smell of earthy damp and of course the weirdly pretty mould spoors, that had been happily growing whilst we were gone! The source of the problem was in the cellar, it was flooded and clearly had been for around 7 months! The electric had obviously tripped at some stage and the pump therefore couldn't kick in! The poor house had been sat in several feet of water after a super rainy winter! We both cried. We felt so let down, shocked and incredibly concerned about the state of the ground floor. That house had been bone dry when we left for Canada. The project was doable at that stage but now what?
They had one important job to do!!!! Just one!
Anyway, there was little point crying over split milk and we set to rectifying the issues in the cellar, ensuring that everything could dry out and then be treated. First we sorted the obvious issues with the drainage. Next, we went the whole hog, replaced the 75% of the floor beams on one side and lost the period tile and wooden flooring. We also lost a couple of fireplaces, some plaster and period panelling but it was worth it to stop any further issues down the line. It was a big job and hard to manage from our rental in Normandy, especially during lockdowns, but with the assistance of a few good folks and a couple of numpties, we got there in the end. We of course realised we wouldn't make any money by doing all of this, had already spent a fortune on plans and planning permission, but we wanted to sell it on with the big but invisible stuff done!
We soon outgrew our tiny temporary Normandy rental and when we struggled to find another decent rental, we gave up and moved south west, meaning our time on the project was at an end. It was simply too far to trek back and forth! So, we put her up for sale (him, reluctantly, me not so much)) and had lots of enquires. Travel for these potential buyers was a problem at the time, again due to COVID, so we expected a long wait for a buyer.
The market was certainly in our favour by mid 2020 post Brexit, but we aren't greedy, so we knew it would sell. Eventually, we accepted an offer well under the asking price, 35k under, from a local woman, super keen to get on with the project. She had sold subject to contract, so I cancelled the adverts, stopped answering enquiries and all was going swimmingly for a while. She was back and forth to the house all the time, sending me messages of how she was going to renovate and decorate. I was so happy, because I knew she could do the project, having completed a smaller scale one and that the house would finally be finished.
It was sold subject to contract for a bargain price, no doubt, in what is now a super hot property market, (never thought I'd hear that said about the French property market. Never say never eh!) a fabulous investment opportunity even in France! A huge grandiose house for pennies really. You can't even get a two up two down in the Uk for so little these days! Still, I wasn't that bothered about the money in the end because I just wanted to see it completed and loved.
This morning, I got up to a message saying they were pulling out!
If we are brutally honest, we knew it was coming. There was a text incident between my husband and the buyer, just a couple of nights ago which was a complete misunderstanding, but this led to us believing there was an issue with their budget and we wondered if they were angling for more money off the price of the house? They were suddenly panicking about some re pointing and further dry rot? We honestly felt, they had agreed to buy as seen anyway for the price and had certainly had enough visits to be sure of their purchase. Not so it would seem. We were absolutely baffled!
Somehow, the 'buyer to be' suddenly believed the property had a dry rot issue! Out of nowhere, it would seem she was taking 'Expat expert advice' and been turned off the property, instead of waiting for the actual inspection reports? Bizarre! We are honestly not aware of any such an issue remaining, but if the inspection does come back with concerns, we will just get the experts in to put it right, I mean we've come this far, It really doesn't phase us us to continue the project, rather than give it away for nothing. *inserted foot note - no dry rot was found.
Classic time waster, I feel.
She really liked the idea and romance of it all I'm sure but not the actual getting on with it. I'm livid, if I'm honest. I've paid people to do various things that I didn't need to, even down to employing hand holder just a few days ago, because the diagnostics company sent an electrical inspector to the property and not the full team to complete the full report! The lady has pulled out but is complaining she now has to rent! To be frank, waiting till she had all the facts would have been better! The worse bit is....we missed all those potential buyers whilst she was procrastinating!
Cold feet eh!
I just believe, that in the end they were about to stretch a merger budget to the max but they really should have thought about that, before making me remove it from the market.
As it is, we are viewing a house on Tuesday and whilst we don't need to sell The Wreck to buy it, it would have closed that chapter and things been altogether tidier for us. One less thing to worry about! These old French homes need living in!
So today, I've spent a lot of time I didn't really have spare, on the phone sorting out agents, as I will never ever attempt a private sale again. Never ever!
Living in France lesson 4006 learnt! Arghhhhhhhh!
We so eager to move out of renting! I can't explain how much I hate renting from other EXPATS, I really do, but like anyone that has started a brand new life and company in France, we need 3 years books in order to secure any finance. Yes, even though we have owned a house in France for four years! France is super anti risk, make no mistake and more in favour of permanent French workers. It stinks, but we came to live here, so this is something we simply have to wait out without going ever so slightly insane! We can of course buy cash, there is at that at least! It will be a renovation project of course, but in this market, that's a good thing I think. In our first few years actually residing and working here, we shouldn't over extend ourselves I feel. It's been a hard, grown up decision to make and now that's we've decided its the only way to proceed, I just want to crack on. I'm really at the point where a caravan on the land of our own Wreck, would be infinitely better than paying someone else's mortgage or lifestyle! It's such a waste of our money.
We've absolutely learnt to roll with the punches here in France and actually, we are getting tougher by the day. Trying hard to hold on to the dream, trying to remember to enjoy our lives here and anyway, there's always wine eh!