Sunday, January 22, 2012

Second installment....

Sunset over Dinard

So what do we do now …………….? We didn’t really have a clue but with brave hearts (balanced with the occasional breakout of fear) we applied for a French mortgage, made enquiries about transferring money through a foreign exchange company (we immediately transferred the 10% deposit to our agent as requested) found a willing French legal expert in the UK and most importantly booked another ferry crossing to allow us to sign the initial contract of purchase – the compromise.

The agent was as helpful as he could be, we were contacting him on a regular basis but with our stumbling French and his non existent English, conversations were not very meaningful.  Yes we had read the books and yes we had done the research on the internet so had a reasonable understanding of the differences between the English and French property buying process – but this was not hypothetical anymore, it was most definitely real – several cries of “WHAT ARE WE DOING” were heard.

We really wished that we had someone holding our hand …………

Three weeks passed slowly and worryingly uneventfully but eventually we got back to Saint Malo and arrived at the agents office as arranged (we had managed to agree a date despite our language problems) to discuss the contract and to make a visit to the chosen Notaire in Dinard.

What we didn’t know was that the Agents office had been closed and they had moved to new premises elsewhere in the town.  Immediate thoughts of “they’ve run off with our deposit money” were quickly eradicated when the agent arrived – and explained the situation.  We must have missed something fairly essential in one of our many seemingly meaningless conversations.

We had already seen the initial contract and had the ok from our UK based French legal expert so we were reasonably comfortable when we arrived at the Office Notarial.  What we hadn’t reaslised was that our agent had spent a considerable time on our behalf sourcing a Notaire who spoke English so the process of signing was completely painless (had someone advised us that this was possible we could have saved the £1,500 we paid to our French legal expert for basically reading two 28 page documents).

Well we say painless – what we were soon to learn is that the French authorities like paper and that they like everything checked and double checked so every page of the contract had to be signed by both of us with the addition of “je suis connaisance” each time.  Needless to say with the Notaires detailed explanation of what was happening, the selection of an appropriate day for the completion and the signature process we were in his office for a considerable time.

But there was no going back – we were committed!

The agent kindly drove us back to Saint Malo and took us to the apartment again for a third look.  It was still crammed with furniture, there seemed to be more shelves than I remembered and yes the tartan carpet was still as attractive as ever.

After an afternoon of cider drinking (what else) and an overnight stay in a hotel we headed back to the UK.  We had agreed a completion date of the 30th November so we had two months to get ourselves together and ensure that everything was in place to complete our purchase.

Many documents were copied and securely posted to our Notaire. Getting the mortgage (we didn’t really want) was relatively straight forward (we had used a UK agent and of course back in 2007 things were somewhat easier in the financial world) and secured what we thought was a great deal – 2% fixed for 20 years – no worrying about variable mortgage payments with this one or the need to change mortgage every time a deal ended. 

We nervously transferred the balance of funds (to our Notaire this time) and waited rather impatiently for our next visit to Saint Malo to complete the purchase.

TO BE CONTINUED............
Alfie loves the sea water pool, but still hasn't mastered the diving board! 

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