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Saturday, August 25, 2012

More About the House

Well, we were not able to sign the Compromis de Vente (the agreement between the seller and the buyer which locks in the price and takes the property off the market) this week because...

Everyone is on vacation. :-)

When I say "everyone" what I mean is that this house has multiple owners.  This is because French inheritance laws are very different compared to the U.S. and are designed to protect the rights of the children and not so much the rights of the surviving spouse.  No one is completely free to pass down his or her property and assets exactly as he or she wishes.  A will (testament) does not change this though there are some legal ways that you can use to (sort of) get around it.  This site (and a darn good site it is too) has a good basic review of the law and I'll use their example below to illustrate how it works.

Let's say that a married couple has a house and two children.  One spouse dies (you) and you didn't do any estate planning ahead of time.  What happens next??
...the [surviving] spouse will receive 1/4 of your estate and the children 2/3 of your estate, with the remaining 1/12th freely disposable, e.g. to your surviving spouse.
So the surviving spouse in our example would get 1/4 of the value of the house and the two children would get 2/3 of the value of the house.  Where it gets very interesting is if there is inheritance tax (which is based on the worldwide assets by the way) due to the French government.  In the past if the heirs owed something, it was due within 6 months but the site I consulted says that some relief is now possible - a deferral of 5 to 10 years - if property is involved. 

I don't know the particulars of the owners' lives (and it's not really my business) but it looks like this is a classic French inheritance situation where there must be a surviving spouse and children, or just several children, as heirs.

As for the house itself, here are a few details.  The house is about 100 years old, brick (not stone) and is located in an area of Versailles that was originally working class (quartier ouvrier).  The main floor is 55 square meters (592 square feet) and is composed of a living room (salon), dining room (salle à manger), kitchen (cuisine) and one bedroom (chambre).  All the rooms are very small but lovely with pretty molding around the ceiling and light fixtures.  There are porches off the living room and the kitchen so you can open up the French doors in the summer and make the house seem much bigger.  No fireplace (it appears to have been removed) but under the carpet are oak floors that could be refinished.  The kitchen is nearly bare and only has one small countertop and one cupboard.  There isn't a second story but there is a basement which has two bedrooms.  The garden is glorious.

I'd call it a "fixer-upper" but I don't think that does it justice (not to mention that the word would imply neglect on the part of the owners).  On the contrary, they did a wonderful job of maintaining it - all the wear (carpets and wallpaper) is simply what one would expect given that a couple and their children spent a lifetime living here.  This house feels loved and all the important stuff is in great shape.  Here are a few pictures of the ground floor and the garden:

View of the living room from the dining room


Front Porch
Even though we have not yet signed the compromis (now planned for next week), the real estate agency withdrew their advertising and last week, right in front of us, the agent put a Vendu (sold) sign on the front gate.  And (surprise!) one of our future neighbors came over and introduced himself.  Very propitious so far...


French Girl in Seattle said...

Felicitations Victoria. I love your house. Yes, there is some work to do, but it certainly has a lot of potential. Having your own garden in Paris is such luxury. And in Versailles too (ask Marie-Antoinette, she knew that well and had the "hameau" built in the Versailles gardens.) I wish you many wonderful years in your new home. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Anonymous said...

It looks like a fantastic house ! Is it in Porchefontaine ?
We have been living in Versailles for one year as we were a young couple, but more in Quartier Notre-Dame, actually in Rue Sainte-Victoire ;-)
You will probably sign the compromis de vente "à la rentrée" in a few weeks, when everyone is back to work. You should write a post about this truly french tradition of "la rentrée" ... I always wonder why people who aren't teachers at all and left school over 20 years ago do organize their schedule like middle-schoolers : "oh well, I really can't make a decision rigth now, we'll have to meet again after "la rentrée" ... Pfff ...
Take care,

Anonymous said...

Looks like a very nice house!

Victoria FERAUGE said...

@Veronique, It is indeed a real luxury to have a garden - one of the great things about living outside of Paris. This one is particularly nice because there are not tall buildings or trees close by so the garden gets sun all day long. I think there is enough room for both a flower and a vegetable garden if we plan just right. I shall have to visit the Versailles gardens for inspiration.

Cecile, Notre Dame is very nice. Older and with many monuments and historic sites. And so close to the main market. I'm jealous.:-)

Yes, the house is in Porchefontaine on the other side of town. Just take a right at the octrois. It's a very nice little community with a farmer's market twice a week and annual events like a plant swap. We got our tomato plants there one year and the younger Frenchling used to take horseback riding lessons there at the equestrian center. I found some wonderful old pictures of the area on the Net and will do a post about what it used to look like.

And I like your idea of doing one on "la rentrée." For me the part I've always disliked is the annual rush for school supplies. We always get a huge list of things required by the teachers and so many of them are never used during the school year. The ardoises, for example. We faithfully bought them and they were almost never EVER used. A waste of money.

Anonymous said...

Such a nice garden space,a very important feature! Access to the outdoors, the healing powers of plants and trees and sunshine (Vitamin D) is underestimated. By happy chance, I came across the idea of 'forest bathing' or shinrin-yoku that I just read about, and I think it is so interesting that it has been given a name. It has even been dignified with formal studies . I have had to remind myself to go out under our trees (and tear myself away from obsessive screenreading).

May you be very happy in your new home. :) Badger

Victoria FERAUGE said...

Hi badger, Great link! There is just something about being out in the garden, resting the eyes on greenery and plunging one's hands into the dirt that heals the body and the mind. It's perfect for me because there is always something to do in the garden but it can be done on my timeline, in small batches, and I can match the task to my state of health that day.
Darn right it reduces stress.

I had an old friend who used to refer to the forums and such he frequented on the Net as "time sinks" and he warned me about spending to much time on them. He was dead right. In fact I have another take on it. There have been days when I have gone 8 hours or more checking my email and blog stats, responding to forums and on-line articles and at some point it stops being fun and just becomes compulsive behavior. To this recovering alkie, it feels a lot like drinking. Scary.....