Friday, November 27, 2009

In which we get angry

Yesterday was another low point.  We had been told that the closing was scheduled for 11:00 Paris time, there was no email when we got out of bed in the morning.  After a while we tried calling C, the Flathunter representative in Paris, but no answer.  Then, at 8:15, we received this email:

In fact, I just had Mr L. on the phone, saying they were not available to sign during the day this week, because they were working ... They are waiting for a procuration form from their notaire. Then, they have to re-send it to him, properly signed.
I didn't have the feeling the L. were in a hurry, saying the signature was postponed twice because of your funds not being arrived in time ...
It seems this signature will not occur before the end of the week, this time because of the sellers not making themselves available.

I'll let you know, as soon as the notaires give us a final date of closing.
We'll try to hurry everyone as much as we can !

With kind regards,

So now what?  No closing today, no closing scheduled, nothing more than a "try to hurry everyone," which is completely hopeless.  We were frustrated and angry.  What makes it difficult is that there is no one to call for any details.  C. never knows anything.  The Notaires don't answer their phone.  For all we could tell, the situation could go on forever.  We had no way of knowing what the seller's intentions were.  Or the Notaire could decide that our fees went up again.  Or something we had signed for the bank could go out of date.

Carol had to go to work.  Then, C. finally called us back.  She was full of polite French generalities.  C. has actually been one of the more effective players in this drama, she did a good job in the apartment finding phase, but now she is only doing this job because she was forced into the role when H., the english-speaking director of the company, left for school in Barcelona.  She is in over her head, not really up to the job of negotiating among the seller, the Notaires, the banks, etc.  She compensates by smoothing things over with generalities and euphemisms.

Anyway, I lost it, and started yelling at her.  Why can't they just once do what they say they are going to do when they say they are going to do it?  Why does she keep letting the seller jerk us around like this?  I instruct her to call the seller and tell him that we were closing by 5:00 Wednesday or the deal is off.

We had no idea what the consequences would be of pulling out of the deal at this point, but I meant it.  We would certainly lose some if not all of our considerable deposit.  But it felt good, and C. seemed to rise to the bait, saying yes, she would call the seller and tell him.

Shortly after, my wife C. came home on a work break.  We were both pretty worked up at this point, so we sat down and wrote out an angry email to everyone:  the mortgage broker, the banker, both Notaires, everyone at Flathunter and the seller.  We repeated our threat in bold letters:  This closing will happen by 5:00 Wednesday or it won't happen at all.

We succeeded in stirring things up.  We got a couple of emails that some of the chiefs at Flathunter, who have never once contacted us through this whole process, were emailing the Notaires, probably trying to find out if we were serious.  Then, while I was at work that afternoon, our Notaire called me in my office, with a long, broken-English attempt at an explanation of what was going on.  We had heard from C. that the seller could not get away from work; the Notaire said he was away on vacation for the week.  Why didn't anyone know?  The Notaire's recommendation was that if they did not sign  by Wednesday, instead of withdrawing at considerable risk to our money, we should petition to appoint a "bailiff" who would have the power to force the sellers to sign, or perhaps to return our money if it came to that.  Appointment of a bailiff would cost us 200 euros.  I told him to hold off while we waited to see if anything came of our threat.

Then, at 10:15 that night (4 AM in Paris) we got an email from the seller, a six-screener in flowery, formal French.  He was furious, blamed all the delays on us, and all the inconveniences along the way (to be described if and when all this slows down) on C., whom he obviously disliked.  Although he referred to our threat to withdraw as "blackmail" and ridiculed us for being willing to throw away our deposit, it seemed that he said that he had obtained a power of attorney that would allow his Notaire to sign for him to sign on Wednesday.

So we go to bed.  When we get up in the morning, we had an email from the seller that a closing had been scheduled for 330 Wednesday.  Yes!  Now, all we needed was confirmation from our side, but of course, no one emailed.  Later that morning I sent around an email telling them of the message from the seller, could any of them confirm the meeting?  Finally, L the mortgage broker wrote back, copying me on some emails among the Notaires scheduling the closing for 330 Wednesday.  Why wouldn't they tell us?  No reason, and as it turned out, as the day went by confirmations arrived from C and the notaires.

So it ain't over yet, but right now it looks as though getting angry worked.  It's supposed to happen at 330, 930 US, and it is hard for me to see what could possibly go wrong this time.  We'll see.

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