Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Very superstitious

I had reservations about starting this blog before the house became officially ours. In blogging about the house before we bought it, I would clearly be thumbing my nose at Fate, which would promptly strike back. But, my confidence about this house was so high (mistake #1), that I went ahead and started the blog anyway (mistake #2).

Well. Fate decided to teach me a little lesson. You know... give me a taste of what it could do, it if really wanted to screw me.

In France, a potential buyer and seller sign what is called a "compromise de vente" (a promise of sale) in which the parties state their unequivocal commitment to buy or sell the property. Even though title doesn't transfer upon the signing of a compromise, both parties are pretty much locked in, and whoever renegs on the agreement has to pay the other 10% of the agreed purchase price.

After taking a couple of deep breaths, Dawg and I signed the compromise in mid-July. And then we waited to hear from the agent that the owner had signed. We waited...and waited...and waited...and finally, after nearly two weeks, we called to see what was going on. Well.

The owner told the agent that he had found another buyer, who was willing to pay 20% more than our agreed price. He wanted to pay the agent half of his fee, abandon his oral promise to us, and sell to this other party. We were going to lose the house.

This happened one week after I started this blog.

Dawg and I were devastated. Although we cursed that crazy gypsy owner up and down, secretly, I blamed myself. I had started the blog! I knew what could happen, and I did it anyway!

After we calmed down, we realized that the gypsy was probably playing games with us. I mean, the house has been on the market for nearly a year with not a single interested buyer -- then suddenly someone wants to buy it at the same time as us? And pay 20% more for it?? Not even we, who adore the old broken down thing, were willing to pay more.

Luckily, the agent and the notaire were fully on our side. The notaire is a notary, but not like we have in the U.S. In France, the notary plays the role of a real estate lawyer. He's the guy the checks to make sure that seller properly has title, draws up the act of sale, checks planning regulations, and notes existing charges against the property. Weirdly, he's the representative for both the buyer and seller, and he has an obligation to be impartial.

In this case, the notaire said that the gypsy was legally obligated to sell. After we negotiated the price, the gypsy wrote a letter to the agent giving the agent the "irrevocable right" to sell the house at the agreed upon price. The notaire said that this letter basically committed the owner to signing the compromise de vente. If he failed to do so, he would have to pay us 10% of the agreed price, and pay the agent 100% of his fees.

The gyspsy backed down and signed the compromise without further fanfare -- although, after signing he did call Dawg to tell him that we needed to "make a little more of an effort on the price. (This after months of negotiation and having already signed the contract. Crazy.) Dawg gently told him to kiss our ass.

You must be thinking, dear readers, that if I am so worried about tempting Fate, why am I still writing about this house that I don't own? Well, I'll let you in on a little secret.....

It is not really August 2nd.

After Fate gave me this little nudge, I stopped posting in this blog until we got the all clear to sign the final contract. August 2nd was the date the gypsy signed the compromise de vente. Today is actually September 19th.

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