“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” It’s an old adage, but one which went out of the window during the last property boom in 2005.
It was a time when French banks offered foreign buyers 100% mortgages with minimum security. It was a time when some clients paid for part of their purchase in cash, while Notaires looked the other way. Property prices in Nice were rising 12% per annum (they’re rising again now too) and it seemed like everybody wanted a piece of the pie.
So when an Iranian lady from London asked to purchase the final unit of an off-plan property on her credit card? No mental alarm bells sounded. No, she hadn’t seen the property. But such a transaction was simply par for the course.
Alas, Iranians like to bargain. And as a Persian friend of mine later confirmed, they sometimes go too far.
By coming on so strongly, my Iranian had me on the ropes from the start. She wanted a BA return to view this last remaining property. I said no problem. She wanted money off the property. I said I’d call the developer. She wanted two nights in a hotel in Cannes. I just thought of my commission. She told me to sit. I wagged my tail.
But the developer wouldn’t budge on the price. After all, he only had one apartment left to sell. It took me three valuable afternoons to explain that there was no price negotiation to my new BFF in London.
This is where the tale takes a nasty turn. As despite my concessions, the Iranian lady called the developer directly, thereby cutting me out of the deal.
Sad? Don’t be. As both French Estate Agents and foreign buyers are protected by a ‘Mandate’ system, where a vendor is legally obliged to sell the property through the agent they engaged. The developer couldn’t sell without me, and after such chicanery from London he preferred to call off the deal.
It was with great pleasure that I called the Iranian lady to break the bad news. “The final off-plan property is under offer,” I explained. Her to expenses-paid trip Cannes was cancelled.
She was audibly taken aback. “Yep, another buyer made an offer,” I continued, “and you’ll never believe the coincidence”. The developer had received another offer from an Iranian lady from London, so all bets were off.