Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A little something to tide you over

What a handsome hound
I have been mega busy with the real estate business, really ever since I returned from France. I am not complaining although I am not sure GWE is so thrilled. He is back for a week from Germany, arriving in the throes of a gout spell, mainly due to dehydration on the flight combined with drinking a little too much red wine!! It is hard to be really sympathetic when it is self-inflicted but I am doing my best. Anyway he is hobbling around, happy as larry as you can imagine. I knew he was due home this week, of course I did, but I still went ahead and booked myself onto a course to continue my articling requirements. It wasn't until I was writing it in my daytimer that it finally dawned on me that the two collided. Anyway I am impressing the socks off him (if he could bear to have socks that close to his sore toe!) with my hectic real estate lifestyle.

My lady is disappearing

In this business, they always say once you book something, a holiday, a course, things with get busy - they weren't wrong. It's been crazy. GWE arrived Friday evening, and I was off the minute we returned from the airport doing a re-visit with my daughter's friends to their purchase. Saturday was out with the girls checking out bridesmaids, which I will tell you all about down the road.

Saturday evening was the engagement party at the future in-laws. Sunday out with clients, Monday course, Tuesday course and then showings with one set of clients and then receiving an offer on my listing, home at midnight!! Wednesday (today) course, calling buyers from last night's viewings to keep in touch, later I am off to receive another offer on my listing - last night's one died. Phew!! Fingers crossed for a better result this evening,

Anyway to keep you happy I have included some photos I snapped around my garden in a few free moments this weekend. I just love my lilac this year, it is two-tone, I am sure it wasn't last year. Anyway enjoy, and I will be back when I get another spare second.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Preparation for The Big Day

My daughter, her maid of honour and myself went "dress" shopping Friday evening in nearby Hamilton. Hamilton is not the most salubrious town in the area but the store had come highly recommended. Unfortunately the two other bridesmaids couldn't make it, but what was the likelihood of finding the dress first trip out?!
We made it down to King Street, not the most salubrious street in this insalubrious town, and found the dusty old doorway, one of those old fashioned stores you now only find in the downtown areas of old cities, a few overly dressed bridal mannequins in the windows. Things weren't looking good and if wouldn't be an understatement to say we weren't feeling particularly optimistic.
Once inside we were somewhat underwhelmed by the racks of dresses, it did not seem like very many but because they were each an individual model, I guess there were quite a lot of them.
A very young assistant approached and we explained that the wedding was in September and therefore we needed to find something off the rack as there was no time to order a dress, we understand that takes 6 months!! She didn't seem very hopeful that we would find something. The dresses really don't look very inspiring on their hangers. We knew we were definitely not looking for big and poufy, but that's how everything looked. In the end we just pulled anything in my daughter's size and filled the fitting room with probably 12 to 15 dresses and she proceeded to try them all on with the assistant lacing her in and out of them all.
We narrowed it down to three, there were some issues as she was planning on buying the floor model, some were in a sad state, grubby from many fittings, some beading missing, but one began to stand out. It looked great on, really figure flattering, very elegant, not TOO poufy, completely different from what my daughter had in mind. Yes it was definitely the one, she tried it on three or four times!! Decision made, but my daughter now feels bad because the other two bridesmaids missed out on the occasion.
Next week its their turn, more shopping - we are hoping to find them cocktail dresses they will all be able to get more than one wear out of. That is beginning to sound like more of a challenge than THE dress purchase.
My personal preparation is also underway. I have taken the plunge and joined a local tennis club with my girlfriend. She plays every year, I haven't played since I was on holiday in Spain back in 1987. I remember it because we were used to playing squash and anyone who plays squash knows you really have to hit a squash ball very hard to get any distance. Not so with a tennis ball. We spent the entire time retrieving the balls from outside the courts. Before that the last time I played was at school. Needless to say I have signed up as a very unfit beginner. Now I just have to find some decent tennis shoes ...oh and a racquet. My friend was babbling on about what weight of racquet I should look for until I reminded her that when I last played I used a wooden one!!!
To look absolutely drop dead fantastic I need to lose 30 lbs but I will be exceedingly grateful for any weight loss at this point. I am definitely experiencing middle-age spread at the moment. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Mother's Day

I had a lovely day on Saturday. My daughter's gift to me was a day out at Niagara on the Lake, a very pretty little town on Lake Ontario down near Niagara Falls. The Niagara Peninsular is a little micro climate and it was quite a bit milder down there. It was a gorgeous day and all the gardens, orchards and vineyards were all a little further on than here, it is only 40 minutes from where we live. We had tickets to the B & B open house tour so we spent the afternoon wandering around the back streets, peering into people's gardens and going through some beautiful heritage properties. About half way round we were gasping so made our way back to the main street and sat down in a little cafe and had afternoon tea! Cucumber sandwiches, scones and cream and pastries and we scoffed the lot! A truly lovely day, the tulips in particular were everywhere and spectacular.

On Sunday my youngest son gave me some seeds to plant, but the weather was altogether different, grey and quite chilly and later on rain. So I will sew those out later in the week.
Even older son remembered to call me from Banff to wish me Happy Mother's Day. All in all a lovely weekend for this mum.

Friday, May 9, 2008


I have finally made it into my garden, finally got dirt under my nails and ingrained in my hands. Summer must be on its way. It is a little cool today but that makes for great gardening weather. I had been looking at those empty pots for too long and everything in the beds was coming on too fast and I had to rescue some fledging shoots from the bully of the garden. I am not sure what it is called and I do like it, a green and white variegated ground cover, it certainly brightens up the garden but it wont stay where I put it - likes to take over the entire bed. Anyway I have been out there and done a bit of taming, the pots have been potted, just the pool to clean up now and the pool service is due later today. 

My daughter is off to a wedding this afternoon, a beautiful day for it - and I expect she will be taking notes as to what she thinks is and is not a waste of money. She has been comparing notes with other already married friends, things like is it worth spending the $4000 for the midnight buffet. She asked her friend, I mean she was at the wedding but can't even remember it, are most of the guests gone or too drunk by midnight to care? Questions like that!!
Tomorrow her and I are spending the day together. Niagara on the Lake a very pretty town near Niagara Falls holds a B & B open house tour and she has bought tickets for us as a Mother's Day gift. She bought these before the engagement and looming wedding - I'm not sure we would have spent a whole day on something like this if we had known of the proximity of the wedding. 

The engaged couple have decided on the venue, it is in a vineyard near the Niagara escarpment, we all went out to check it out on Wednesday. It was p**sing it down and the vines were just sticks and it was spectacular, so come a hopefully dry day in September it should be beautiful. That's a big chunk of change right there, in fact the biggest chunk of the whole event. Next weekend the search for the dress commences. Now that sounds like fun!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Rollercoaster Weekend

Another hectic weekend in the life of this real estate agent. On Friday evening I was out showing properties to my daughter's friends, one of which was a revisit. Typically we had seen this one last weekend and they had really liked it straightaway, a lovely house whose owners have taken great care of it. However, that was pretty much their first trip out house hunting and they wanted to see more. So of course when we viewed it again Friday it was already under offer but conditional on those buyers selling their own home. Could we bump them?

Saturday I get the instructions to write up an offer but was told we wouldn't be able to present until late afternoon and there were a few more showings, stand by. Yes you guessed it, someone else wanted to put in an offer, we were in competition. The long and the short of it is we did win but then had to wait 48 hours to see if the conditional buyers would firm up or step aside. For my clients those 48 hours were going to drag by.

Sunday morning out with my new listing clients to see properties, although I have been counseling them to wait until they had sold, they couldn't resist. So off we went, at least they have widened their search area so there were a few more possibilities to show them. We saw a great big family house at a great price, but it was dated. I don't think the previous owners had purchased an item of furniture or household appliance since 1975! It was like a museum but a beautifully maintained one. Lovely yard and great bones - I was pushing for that one. However the next one was all shiny and newly renovated, nothing to do whatsoever. But they are a growing family and I felt the new and shiny one would seem small in a few years and they want this to be the family home for many years to come, and so I pointed this out. They did listen I am pleased to say.

Then I had to leave them to their own devices and go and do my open house on my "forever" listing, only two weeks until it expires. I am trying everything I can think of, canvassing agents who have seen it, letting everyone know we are open to offers - but so far only one ridiculous offer. While I was at the open house my clients from the morning called, they had seen "the house" and wanted to put in an offer. They had been back through that open house three times, with various family members!! How about that for playing your cards close to your chest! And guess what, several other people wanted it too - yes we were in competition again, but this time not holding as good a hand as these clients haven't sold yet, only on the market two weeks. Explaining that we were not in a good position and preparing them for disappointment, I went ahead an wrote up the offer for signature. However, the owners were out of town and therefore the offers could not be presented until a Monday evening conference call. Yes these clients also had to wait until Monday evening to be put out of their misery.

In an effort to get these clients in a stronger position, I spent the rest of Sunday ringing and emailing all the agents who had showed the property to let them know my clients were very motivated at the moment and if possible to bring us an offer. One did, very exciting, so we presented the offer at 9am Monday morning in the hope that we could firm up our offer if their house was under offer. Unfortunately this offer was a little too low for my clients and we had to let it drop.

Got the word on the Monday that the conditional buyers on my Saturday's clients offer were stepping aside so was able to call my daughter's friends and give them the great news, just financing to get sorted now and they have bought a house.

In all by Monday evening there were five offers on my Sunday clients' deal, two of which were unconditional unlike ours so we were out of it. I will find out this morning what the house went for, hopefully lots more money than my clients could afford so they wont feel too bad.

So there you got, feast or famine in this business, one minute nothing, the next three deals, and back to one come Monday. But one is great and I am certainly not complaining - enjoyed the ride! Let me know if I am boring the crap out of you all with my real estate meanderings :)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Help Yourself!

I took this latest award (see at the top of my side bar) from Sweet Irene, it's a help yourself award, so please do help yourself.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Bonne Anniversaire !

Quick roof update - we heard back from the Mairie but it wasn't very helpful. No we must wait for the permis. I have responded in the vein that we thought due to the fact there was a big hole in the roof and many rotting timbers due to neglect of the previous owners, on purchasing same we would be allowed to replace it and make the house watertight without permission, also asking if he has any idea how this might take, but he has not bothered to respond to that letter. I am thinking we have not got off on the right foot here!! Ho hum....

Anyway more tales from the hols. On my birthday (surprise, surprise no pressie from GWE - many excuses about working long hours, shops in Germany etc. etc. which of course fell on deaf ears) but no matter, I did have pressies and cards from other people who like me and could take the ten minutes it takes to write a card AND post it!!

We decided that would be our day in Limoges, have a nice lunch, a little shopping - lovely. However we woke up to a damp and miserable day, it seems everytime we go to Limoges it is raining. Never mind we had a long to do list. The plan was to go to the EDF (electric company) and find out why we were getting invoices even though we weren't getting electricity - that sounds like a fun one doesn't it? Go to the internet cafe to print off photos for the permis application. Go to the bank to see why no bank cards or cheque books had materialised. OMG I am getting exhausted all over again just thinking about it.

First stop the bank in Magnac Laval. Explained the situation to the teller in broken French, no we had never received any cards, no they weren't in the mail box. They send our statements to Canada, with the address hand written so someone's in the know. She looked in her drawer and low and behold one card, mine, nothing else, not attached to anything. Weird and disturbing. But no PIN. The upshoot of all this is, I THINK, that she has ordered new cards and PINs and they will be sent to our address in France and be held by the post office - fingers crossed. Being ever so trusting, we deposited yet more Euros that we cannot access!!

Next stop Bellac, we had been advised that there was an EDF office in Bellac, and we knew where the internet cafe is there...EDF office closed down and internet cafe without internet !! But we did manage to print off photos and after all this needed a rejuvenating cuppa so stopped into the English cafe to pick up a copy of Etcetera (a handy magazine with lots of info for ex-pats) and pick the brains of the owner, Jim, about various things including health insurance as and when we finally live there.

Then onto Limoges, having checked in the phone directory for the whereabouts of the EDF offices (thank goodness for GPS) - got to the office with ten minutes to spare (assuming that they would be closed from 12 to 2 like everyone else) and raced up to the door, well we think it was the correct door, no info, no office hours, nothing. So we thought they must close from 11.45 onwards - none of this is out of the ordinary in central France. Gave up there and went on into the centre to find a restaurant for lunch.

We did have an absolutely delicious meal, all the way from starter to dessert plus a bottle of red. We spent a good 2 hours enjoying the lively and chic atmosphere. Then when we felt the shops should be opening again we set off around those. Unfortunately I cannot shop properly with GWE in tow. He's all "take your time" "I'm alright standing outside in the rain - bored out of my brains" "go on its your birthday - buy it...them..whatever" and you know it is just guilt talking.....but I can't fully take advantage - managed to buy two pairs of sandals and that was it.

Next stop - back to EDF offices because they must have opened again now, right? No door still locked. But I noticed an intercom next to the door so I pressed the button and launched into my great French explaining the problems, getting invoices but not getting electricity - Ah madame, ce n'est pas ici, c'est dans Limoges centre - i.e. three minutes from where we had lunch!!! Off we go, fuming, but find it and after a quick detour around the block, managed to get a spot right outside the office and in we went. Finally we were going to get some satisfaction but no ....wait for it.....their computers are down, can we come back tomorrow!! GWE managed to pull me back out of the shop spitting and hissing.....

At this point there was some talk of looking for the place that we had been recommended to look for inexpensive windows, but all the fight had gone out of we admitted defeat and headed back to the gite!!!! Bonne Anniversaire