Thursday, March 17, 2016


17 March 2016

Cold and sunny 11 degrees

Instead of staying in France for Easter and doing thousands of kms with annoying people who think that they will look at a little property whilst they are on their break from work, we are running away to Madrid (temporarily). 

Some very vexatious enquiries this week.  An influx of 'complete isolation' specialists - no roads (how the xx do they expect to be able to get to the property?) however connected to water and electricity.  No neighbours.  Really no neighbours - like not even within seeing distance.  No noise.  Have they no idea how noisy the country is?  How people get up at the crack of dawn to shoot things, saw trees, clop past on horses, till and cultivate their fields or just stand around, lean on the gate and have an animated conversation at 7.30 am on a Sunday morning?

One client wanted something which resembles Scotland.  Scotland really resembles Scotland so what does he want with rural France?  A property with a river running through the land.  Presumably, the sort of river which wont flood him out of his home in Spring when there is a full moon and a lot of snow melt.

Another one is a composer who only wants to hear bird song and live on a hill far away.  Apparently he lives in an idyllic location in Hampshire.  OH said he could sodding well stay there and he wasn't driving him around the countryside.

Two client wrote and said they wanted to view houses and wanted me to contact them immediately.  So I rang, and rang and rang and emailed and Skyped.  Did they get back to me.  No.  And one of them then deleted me from Skype, after adding me the week before.  I wanted to send them an email, saying that as they had not had the manners to reply to any of my communications, I was deleting them from the database and not to darken my virtual doors ever again. OH suggested I needed to take a break.

Bearing in mind the above, I remembered a post from last year's blog, so here it is.

Things people dont know about estate agents

1.  They are human beings.  They have a home life and need one day a week away from the day job when they can do enjoyable things like pay bills, do the laundry/repairs, brave the garden armed with machete and thick clothing, clean the oven, scrape crap off the bathroom/kitchen/toilets and spend time with their badly neglected family.  Surprisingly, they need one whole day a week to do this.

Subtext:  if you are over here on holiday and are busy all week but everything is shut on a Sunday, please don't ring your estate agent to see if you can have a little drive around the area and visit a 'few' houses.  Especially if you have no money to buy one of them.

2.  They expect you to be on time.  It is the day job for them.  They will have planned out the programme for the day and have a list of visits with times and sellers who have spent hours cleaning their houses in the uncertain expectation of a sale.  

Subtext:  please don't text your agent (especially if she has told you that her mobile doesn't work when she is at home) on the morning of the visits to say that you are going to be an hour late because you forgot that the time is different in France or your kids cant get out of bed or you having a lie in.  You can rest assured that whilst you are having your lie in, your agent will be downing a number of 'petit caf├ęs', grinding down her worn teeth and having to rearrange everything. 

If you get to an appointment early, do not go for a coffee in a place where you are incapable of describing its location, decide to do a little shopping, or just park somewhere completely different and sit in your car.  Please try and find the correct appointment place.  It is the Mairie.  Every town has one.  It says Mairie on the front (or Hotel de Ville which is not a hotel at all but that is another story) 

Do not cancel on the day of the visit unless one of your legs has dropped off.

3.  They expect you to be serious.   There was once a man who thought he would like to buy some carrots.  He went to his local carrot seller and asked to see all of the five inch carrots of a brilliantly orange hue within a radius of about 40 kms.  He thought the carrot seller could take him in his car and stop for lunch and it could take up to three days.  He needed to sell his own carrots in order to be able to buy some other carrots but he lived in a part of the world where carrots were snapped up almost immediately.  He did mention that he was looking for carrots in a couple of other areas of the country.   The carrot seller told him to fxxk off.

Subtext:  if you have no money for carrots, don't go looking for carrots.

4.  Their earning are their business.  Do you get onto the subject of your bank manager's/dentist's/solicitor's earnings within a few hours of knowing them?  Don't ask us how much of the agency commission we get.  It really pisses us off.  The answer is that most independent agents get around 40% of the commission.  Agents on salaries get around 5-8%. Before you throw up your hands in horror and say you wish you were earning such 'easy money' (words issued from mouth of former carrot searcher), there is the following to bear in mind

  • agents are paid on the day of the Acte de Vente.  This is an event which is at the end of the obstacle race which occurs between offer and Acte.  New and fiendish obstacles always present themselves.  If it all falls through, the agent earns nothing, despite having worked on it for months.
  • we are heavily taxed.  Say the commission gross is 10000 euros.  The agent gets 4000 euros and then has to give 20% to the VAT authorities.  RSI (regime sociale des independents) then takes 45% on the balance.  So the agent ends up with 1400 which is the basic pay for one month. She thinks this is not a lot and thinks life would be a lot easier as a cashier in Leclerc.  She would get a reduction on the price of carrots.
  • there is no personal allowance in France.  You get taxed from the first centime.  The only way to avoid this is by having lots of children.  
Subtext:  it is not 'easy' money.  It is no mean feat sorting out the carrot searchers from the people with little pots of gold and hope in their hearts.  And just the two children I had were enough for me.

5.  Your agent wants to help you.  We want you to find the house of your dreams.  We want to help you to buy it and settle in and live happily ever after.  Making people happy is what makes our job worthwhile.  There is such a feeling of joy on the day of the Acte when we hand the keys over to the new owners and see how thrilled and happy they are.  And we hug the former owners and wish them all the best for the future.  And yes, we do expect to be paid for doing a job well.  And yes, we do like champagne and coming around for BBQ's.

Subtext:  we enjoy spending time with you after you have bought.  Provided you have not tortured us in the process.  If you never see us again, despite living in the same town, it is because we hide when we spot you coming.

6.  We drink coffee - lots of coffee.  If we have driven you around for hours and answered all your questions, and shown you lots of houses and not got lost (well not too lost), we do appreciate stopping for coffee.  We also appreciate you offering to pay for it.  We don't really want to keep on going whilst you pull your little bottles of water out of your bag.  Especially when we have forgotten to bring one ourselves.  We would be delighted if you offered us lunch.  It makes us feel appreciated.

Subtext:  if you say you have brought your own lunch and the agent leaves you in a park for an hour, their enthusiasm for the job will have been reduced by about 50% by the time they pick you up again.  They will assume you are tight fisted or skint.  Or both.  If you turn up in a camper van, their hearts will sink.  Or say you want to make a yurt/glamping business. How many yurt farms do you know in France?  Enough said.

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