(actual photo from an online listing of a house for sale)
I’ve been looking for a house for no more than a year and one day. I say this as a year in France has come to an end as of yesterday. It’s been a gradual process. At first, I saw houses … perhaps it’s time for a quick aside on buying a house in France even though I’ve not purchased one yet. I say I saw houses and if you’re American, you think of an agent taking you around on weekends looking at all he houses s/he has lined up for you. She picks you up in a comfy S.U.V. with a smile holding a latte and a perky attitude as though we’re going to knock this out of the park. Kick some house hunting ass. But this is not the picture I will paint. The truth can be painfully realized (or realised for the British audience ) walking through a typical conversation had in French by my super French speaking husband and an agent that happens to have a house we’re interested in.
Another beautiful Thursday morning in SouthWest France …
Brent: Hey! How are you? Great. I saw this house that you’re selling. Love to have a look.
Brent: So … can I view it? How about this weekend? We’re flexible.
Agent: I need to call the sellers. I’ll call you back.
[ after a cheap Rhone, some amazing pork, a little cheese and Valentine yogurt we skip to Friday afternoon. Brent, understanding that 12-2 is lunchtime, calls the agent after lunch as he has yet to get back to us ]
Brent: Hey Madame! May I speak with Monsieur <insert agent name here>?
Madame: He’s not back from lunch [read as left for the day].
Brent: Oh. I want to see a house this weekend, can he get back to me?
Madame: He’ll be back in the office on Monday [read as Monday late afternoon]
Brent: uh. Okay.
Et voila. Rinse and repeat. It is uncertain as to pin this crazy behavior (behaviour, love ya brits! mean it!) on The French or Southwest France or This Crazy Economy with Mortgages Going Bust and Buyers Few and Far Between, but DUDE, what’s a girl with money to buy a house gotta do around here to buy something!?
That said (hate that expression, promise never to use again), I’m glad it took so long because while I was trying to shove my Seattle living life into a quaint farmhouse in country France but with a better stove, I realized (sigh, realised … okay done with this cute tactic … bugger that) maybe I want something different. While waiting patiently for agents with houses to sell to get back to me, I figured out that what I really want is not the farmhouse, but the farm. And so after much searching, an offer has been made. A great farm that I want to buy. Sounds simple. Great. Cut to America where you say, “cool. I’ll take it.” And Ms. Perky gets all done-deal on you and you find yourself nose high in papers to sign with the whole weekend ahead of you. Wrong. There is no Ms. Perky. There is no done deal. You’ve entered phase two of buying a house in France, which throws you into the front row, sweating but excited while you await the Randy Jackson and fellow Dawgs of France to see if you’ve made to the next round. Three to six weeks of waiting while a technical committee decides if you buying that house is good for France. Wow. My project is good for France. Here’s to hoping that I remember all the lyrics and that adding another farmer to France is a good thing. And by definition, a YOUNG farmer at that!!! So we sit and wait while working on plan B.