Sorry for the delay. My two fingers don’t work very fast!!
This is a brief account of what happened . I have deliberately not named anyone but can, if asked privately.
We stood outside the mairies and debated what to do. We called the woman who had introduced us to the estate agent. She could offer no real help as she had moved to the Lot and Garonne where she said there was plenty of work.
We reasoned if we couldn’t live in our property ( known as the lake) we would have to use our savings on a new home and find work.
The next few days went in a daze. We looked at properties in the area, while the kids were at school but saw nothing suitable for our needs and we didn’t have a clue what we should do or turn to to solve the problem of the Lake. So we took a trip at the weekend, south 3.5 hours to have a look. We saw the property we live in now and agreed to buy it.
In July we went to see the notaire who had dealt with the Lake purchase for the first time. (We had bought the Lake by proxy). We had originally been intending to be at the signing of contracts and arranged the date, ferry crossings, people to stand in at the Post Office etc. but a few days before leaving they changed the date to 2 days after we were due to have returned home. It was agreed we would still visit France pick up the keys and stay at the property during our stay. This we did with all four children.
At this meeting in July 2003 we asked how she could describe the property as a maison d’habitation when it was in fact an abri de jardin. Her reply was it was of no importance what it was called, she just wrote down what the agent said it was. So as we understood it from her you can buy a cow shed but it can be descibed as a chateau! We were getting nowhere.
The summer of 2003 in France was a heatwave and we sheltered in the trees at the Lake while the children were at school and by the middle of August we still had not completed on our new home. We still didn’t know what to do about the Lake and were still really in shock and more concerned about the immediate future, work, money etc. We contacted the woman and the estate agent and asked about the delay. This occupied our minds and we were getting worried as the new school year was approaching and we wanted the children to start September in the Lot and Garonne.
The agent said they owned properties in the area and we could stay in one while the purchase went through. So we moved in a heatwave. 50° unloading our tailer in the Lot and Garonne not to be recommended.
The children restarted school and as we’d been in France since January it was suggested they repeat to help their French. CP and CM1. This was a good move and since then they have progressed through the system and now this year are entering into 3eme and Terminal.
But we still hadn’t signed for our property and every week we were told next week. We’d even moved into the property even though it wasn’t ours. We were getting increasingly worried and the Lake and its problems took second place.
The estate agent had set up a building firm to do up the properties he owned and Ian had a job as a plumber in a team of French and Portugeuse. So he had work but the house was not ours.
Things did not seem right especially with all the talk while Ian was at work and in March 2004 I went to see the notaire myself to see what was happening and said I wouldn’t leave until it was sorted . It became apparent that the agent had bought the property himself and we were to then buy it from him.So it was then arranged that the transfer to us was made the next day.
So I arrived at the notaires, Ian came from work saying the agent wasn’t happy about the situation. I was nearly in tears thinking he wouldn’t turn up but eventually he did and we had our house. A week later the estate agent disappeared with 1.3 million€ of company money.
His son tried to sort out the situation. The only good thing was that Ian’s job continued for several months and then as we were now totally absorbed by the French system we were entitled to unemployment benefit.
It was during these months that the extent of the agent’s and the woman’s ( who introduced us) ‘dodgy’ business transactions became clear.
They had sold land and even houses to the English that had not been for sale. Monies supposed to go to the notaire were redirected to his bank account. This money he used to buy the houses like ours. Affectively buying our house for half what we thought we were paying and then selling it to us. We were not the only ones.
A couple and 4 children had expected to move to France in February and were told all was in order. They had in fact bought a farmhouse that was not for sale. The son resolved this by offering them one of the properties the company owned.
At least 2 people we know of were living in properties, like we did,thinking all was in order when the former owner knocked on the door asking if they were paying rent. They said no we own this house . In fact the agent had their money but had not completed the purchased of the house from the owners ( as in our case). So these people were living in a house that belonged still to the former owner and their money had disappeared.
So you can see our minds were far from the Lake and it’s situation. It was only after speaking to the avocat dealing with this situation that we broached the subject of the Lake and he recommended our first avocat. Nothing is ever simple!
Sorry for the delay. My two fingers don’t work very fast!!
how incredible !!! I have heard stories like this but your is incredible, where I live in La Bouverie many years ago an estate agents sold the same plot of land to 20 people, so all on the same day!!! 20 people turned up with their builders, architects etc… can you imagine the money that estate agent made !!! and of course the estate agent then disappeared !!! INCREDIBLE that this can happen !!!
OMG!!! What an awful time you have all had! Hopefully people like that aren’t too common…