Today hasn’t been the best of days – we were expecting some trials and tribulations associated with buying a house in France, but I don’t think we ever expected what has happened today!
Since we had the offer accepted on the house near Uzes we’ve had a busy time just getting to grips with the basics of opening French bank accounts etc. and planning general renovation work needed at the house, whilst at the same time sorting out the legalities needed ahead of signing the Compromis de Vente, which we’d expected to be done on 22nd January.
On top of this though we have also had to deal with the general stresses of house-buying and the additional ones that come with buying a house in another Country .
Our first worry (and it was a big one) was watching the Pound plummet against the Euro……… When we visited the house and had the offer accepted the Pound to Euro Exchange rate was £1 : 1.38 euros. We decided to be prudent and worked out our finances based on an exchange rate of 1.32, thinking that would give us plenty of leeway and then watched in horror as the Pound plummeted not only down to 1.32 but yet further, with little suggestion of any recovery.
After a stressful weekend we decided to take the plunge and fix an exchange rate for the funds we would need to buy the house. We’d agonised over tying up so much money, but we’re not gamblers and like having security and some peace of mind. After several long walks and lots of discussion we decided that the sensible thing for us to do was to secure our dream and if the exchange rate went back up that we would accept any loss that we may incur in the long-run.
In fairness fixing the rate was a much easier process than we thought it would be and a phone call to Hi-FX http://www.HiFX.co.uk on the Monday morning secured us an exchange rate that we were happy with and we felt we could relax a bit again as at least we felt our dream was alive and kicking.
We also opened a French Bank Account, using Britline through Credit Agricole http://www.britline.com . As expected we had to send off a huge amount of paperwork, but incredibly we managed to get our submission right first time and having sent the forms by e-mail on the Thursday we received confirmation of our account opening on the Monday. So far so good!!
This week though we have had an increasing sense of dread as the Compromis wasn’t signed as we had expected and our Solicitor hadn’t received replies to e-mails he had sent. This morning I noticed I had received 3 missed calls from the French Estate Agents so called them only to be told that another couple had offered 10,000 euros more than we had and that the owner wanted to accept this higher offer unless we were willing to match it. What could we say?
We considered whether to increase the offer, but the last thing we wanted to do was to get into a position where we could be told the other couple had increased their’s again – it felt like we were back in the late 1980’s – not a pleasant memory at all!!
So that’s it – we’ve been gazumped – I’m not even sure that there is a French word for it…… we’d been told that this sort of thing doesn’t happen in France
We’re gutted, furious, devastated……… what else can we say?
So it’s back to the drawing board – As it stands we have a substantial amount of money sitting in Euros, which we’ve set aside for a house in France, burning a hole in our pocket and despite my youngest’s suggestion- we won’t be spending it on a ‘Santa Cruz Nomad’ Mountain Bike for him quite yet.
Once we’ve calmed down it will be back to the internet and we’ll be trawling the estate agency sites again trying to find another place. I’m sure in a few days we’ll be able to accept that it has happened for a reason and that something better will be waiting for us …………… but until then we’ll take a deep breath and open a bottle or maybe two of wine!!!