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Published: August 11th 2009
We’ve just made a big decision. To move. Those of you who’ve followed the saga of the major kitchen renovations, the painting, the new bathroom(s) and all the work in the courtyard, to name but a few, probably think we’re mad. If you’ve visited us here, you may understand better. The place is simply very big for two people, even 2 people who very much enjoy having visitors.
And yet….. I love the place. It’s no idyll, being in the middle of a faded small town long past the glory days when textiles brought industry and prosperity to the area.
Who in their right mind would want a house entered through the garage? Well, we did actually, seduced by the wonderful woodwork in the upstairs rooms, the atelier with its spacious sitting area above with views of the Pyrenees, the roof terrace, and best of all, the garden. OK, so the garden is a short walk from the house, but this means we’re unreachable when we’re there. Cut off from the telephone and all the rest, we can simply enjoy working the vegetable patch, gathering fruits in season, labouring mightily to keep the lierre in check, or simply being
Jan, Pat, and Maureen....remember this?
The hours spent scraping away at the dreadful blue flowered wallpaper , complete with pink splodges?
there, observing kites and buzzards wheeling overhead, or watching the diminishing snowline on the mountains as the climate warms through after winter.
As in the UK, the housing market is in the doldrums. We’re currently investigating French estate agents, and, just as in England, don’t have a very high opinion of them so far. For instance, although makeover programmes have reached French TV, they don’t seem to have had much of an impact. We shriek with laughter at the marketing photos we’ve seen on estate agency sites. Few people seem to tidy up, let alone de-clutter. Centre stage are untidy heaps of packing cases, brooms, dustpans and brushes, piles of washing awaiting sorting, tins of paint and cleaning rags. A friend’s personal favourite is of an iron on an ironing board, the room itself invisible. Mine however is one showing the corner of a room. All you can see are a few inches of pink wallpaper, a few inches of magenta tiling, and a single electric socket.
It’s likely that, as with most people, we’ll end up registering with half a dozen or so agents, but put our efforts into selling privately, through the bush telegraph system that
works so effectively here. As soon as Antoine finds out we’re selling, there’ll be nobody in town who doesn’t know the news within hours.
But why not simply leave it to the agents? Well, here, it’s the buyer who pays the fees, and this means that the agent will add his commission, often as much as 9 percent, onto the selling price. Unsurprisingly then, the French are astute enough to seek out private sales, and save themselves several thousand euros in the process.
Still, luckily, we’re in no hurry. This house is still somewhere we feel very happy to live, and probably very sad to leave when the day comes. Let’s hope we can find somewhere near at hand, where we can continue to feel very much at home.
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