Finding the Perfect Property Match for You
One year ago today, we went into lockdown. It’s so hard to believe that an entire year has passed since the first time we confined ourselves to our homes, ran to stock up on food and toilet paper (wasn’t that the dumbest thing ever?), scrambled to find hand sanitizing gel, masks were not to be had so we were making our own, and for the first time in eons, I set out to use my own kitchen to make dinner…then breakfast…then lunch…then dinner again…a never-ending Groundhog Day.
No doubt, we’re really fed up and tired with this restrictive life wanting to break out for more than an hour’s walk. I’d give my eye teeth to have lunch at Café Charlot in Paris or Il Vicoletto in Nice (or any café or restaurant—I won’t be choosy.) There’s no way to even think about booking a trip—even if we can get on a plane, where are we going and what are we doing? It’s like living in a fish bowl looking at the outside world from inside the bowl and thinking wouldn’t it be nice to be free again? Meanwhile we’re just swimming in circles hoping to hop out and be liberated, healthy…and free of fear.
Patty Sadauskas and I had business to take care of so we did just that—broke out of our Covid-19 routine, rented a car and drove to Provence. Our mission was to do a “walk-through” of a property in the perched village of Venasque prior to the final closing sale of the property to ensure it was in proper condition. Here in France you buy “as is.” So, the walk-through just before signing the final deed is very important.
In this case, we represent both the buyer and the seller. It’s quite a special story of how this particular match happened, of which I am quite proud. I have a client from New Orleans who I helped buy two properties in the Provençal town many moons ago—a village house and a large independent house with a pool just outside the city walls. She and her husband divorced years later, so I helped her transfer the title of the two properties to her name with permission of the divorce decree. Two properties was a bit much for her, so she decided to sell one of them—the village house, keeping the large house for herself.
The next day after she informed me of the decision to sell the village house, another client came to me, by chance also a New Orleanian, who told me he and his partner wanted to buy a village house in Provence. What he described was exactly what my other client had to sell…in size, number of bedrooms, amenities, price, etc. I knew the house well—had visited it with my client during a brief stay with her in Venasque, and therefore felt 100 percent confident that he was going to love the house and the village…that it would be PERFECT.
He agreed to purchase the property, but only after seeing other comparable properties and then visiting the Venasque property for himself. He and his partner met up with me in Provence over Thanksgiving 2019 to see other properties and visit this one to which he was partly committed. It was love at first sight the moment he entered the three level stone house oozing with charm and the most glorious large terrace overlooking the valleys below. It was a match made in heaven: two New Orleanians who each love the village and the house in an exchange that benefits both of them greatly. I felt like an accomplished “shadchan” (Yiddish for matchmaker).
It’s taken more than a year to get the buyer’s mortgage in place. Covid-19 has wreaked havoc with what would normally have taken 60 days. The banks have become notoriously inefficient. The final closing will take place at the end of this month…but we still can’t be absolutely sure it will since it’s been postponed for one reason or another—for 16 months to be exact! Fortunately, both the buyer and seller have had tons of patience while we got the snags ironed out. But, the light is finally shining at the end of the Provençal tunnel.
It was a three-hour drive from Nice to Venasque, so we needed to find a place to have lunch and make a pit stop along the way. With everything closed, our best option was a supermarket or some such purveyor of food along the way. Patty had a yen for a visit to one of France superstores—the kind you see on the outskirts of the towns, what is often called a “Big-Box” store, like Walmart, or in France, like Auchan, Hyper U or E.Leclerc. I’m not so familiar with these stores, having left the U.S. 26 years ago, and being an urbanite without a car or space to consume as much as they are offering. I simply rarely have the opportunity, but must admit, no desire, either.
We found an E.Leclerc on the outskirts of Carpentras, a short drive from Venasque, and pulled into the lot. This was perhaps the largest grocery and housewares store I have ever seen. Overwhelmed, I needed to put on the blinders and do a B-line for the prepared foods, bypassing the aisles and aisles of food products, otherwise we might have gotten lost in there forever. Patty spotted a large display of Mrs. Meyers Home Cleaning and Body Care products priced at 40 percent off. Within less than a minute, her arms were filled with bottles of dish detergent, laundry detergent and multi-purpose cleaner in the flavors such as basil, lavender and peony. Mrs. Meyers claims to be “Rooted in Goodness,” and now it’s in France, much to Patty’s happiness! (She’s a serious aficionada!)
We settled on a few things we could eat without too much fuss in the car, perused the aisle of American products, grabbed up all the bottles of Mrs. Meyers products, checked out and headed to the car. As we were opening up the goodies we got for lunch, seated in the car crunched in like you might be on an airplane, with plastic forks from home, and paper towels spread across our laps, Patty said just these words, “We’re in Provence…”
That’s all I had to hear before laughing with hysterics. We both started to giggle to the point of crying. Yes, here we were in the magnificent region of Provence, the land of lavender, cherry trees, olive groves, vineyards, etc., etc., etc., chowing down on less than desirable prepared foods from a Big-Box store while sitting in a rental car in a parking lot. It was pathetic—so pathetic that it was silly funny…and a sure sign of the insane year we’ve endured with Coronavirus. We giggled for the rest of the day over the sheer thought of our lunch predicament.
Recently one of my clients asked me what I missed most about the U.S. and all I could think of (besides family and friends) was Hefty® Jumbo Storage Slider Bags. It’s the kind of thing you might buy in a Big-Box store! And for one reason or another, it’s one of the things you simply can’t find in France. Everyone living here has something like that they miss that is near to impossible to find in France, or way more expensive. Mrs. Meyers products was that “something” for Patty.
We landed in Venasque to visit the house at the appointed time after our “memorable” lunch in the car. While the village was very quiet and shut tight like just about everywhere else in France, the charm of the house was even more acute than we remembered it. It has a perfect floor plan with a living room, bedroom, bathroom and laundry room on the ground floor; a living room/dining room/kitchen on the first floor with the large terrace; a bedroom with full bathroom on the second floor. No doubt, everyone will congregate on the first floor while for sleeping, they will have their privacy on the other levels. It was picture perfect and we’re sure our clients are going to love their new life there, whether part-time or full time. The village is also one of France’s most beautiful and charming villages with a fairly large contingency of American owners.
Satisfied with our visit to Venasque, we then headed to Ansouis to spend the evening and night, where my friend, Barb Westfield, has her beautiful village house. It’s about one-hour’s drive from Venasque past the stunning villages of the Luberon…Gordes, Goult, La Coste, Bonnieux, Cucuron and Lourmarin. She fed us royally on roast chicken, asparagus, root vegetables, salad and rosé wine.
Today we’re making a trip to Lourmarin to visit Les Olivettes, a luxury property we have listed for sale in the lovely Luberon town well-known for its expansive Friday morning market. You’ll hear all about it in tomorrow’s French Property Insider.
The lesson to be learned here is that there’s a lot of France to love. Our goal is to help you find the spot in the hexagon that speaks to you most…a part of the country that checks off most of your boxes…as perfect for you as possible. Let us be your “shadchan” and find your perfect property match!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. If you are considering a property purchase in France, don’t do it lightly. Let us help you make the smartest decisions to ensure you make the best investment you can. Contact us to learn more!