Monday, September 29, 2008

The Auctioneers

Buying & selling houses in Ireland has its quirks and can be 'quaint' to put it mildly. When we came here a little over ten years ago, I recall all the house details we were given had hand written directions on them. The usefullness of these varied as some had such directions as, "Turn left where the old school was".

A typical encounter, and a true one, was the day we walked into 'Key Properties' in Bantry. In my hand I had another auctioneer's details of a house we had been looking at. The same property was listed in this auctioneers houses for sale. I compared the two descriptions. Both were very different, especially when it came to room sizes, distances from villages and the amount of land. "Excuse me", I asked, "How come the room sizes are different on this property from the description I have here from another auctioneer's?"
"Let me see" he said as he snatched the offending document out from my hand. He carefully studied the document through the glasses perched on the end of his nose and then looked up at me. "The same man wrote both".
"How was that possible?", I asked. He went on to tell me that the surveyor who did the description for him & Key Properties had written the description, then left and got a job with a rival auctioneers and that this new auctioneers had commissioned the said surveyer to measure up the same house. He recognised the handwriting! Indeed, on checking they were by the same hand.

On another visit to another auctioneer's we came away with two property details to view. Both had very different directions to follow. We arrived at the first house and met the owners. As we left and got into our car another couple pulled up also clutching an auctioneer's house details. "Do you know where this is?", they asked, flourishing the property details at me. I looked at the property details - it was the same property as the one we were due to see in half an hour. On closer inspection both sets of directions for the same property and from the same town were quiet different. Before I could work out whose were right a lady came out of a small lane and at the end a small white cottage could be seen. She announced cheerfully she was waiting for people who were coming to see her house. In return we asked for directions to the houses on our property details. "Why thats this house!" she exclaimed, looking at the details. The other couple offered their house description & hand drawn map. Why thats this house too!" The auctioneer had given us two completely different sets of very different directions for two houses which in effect were next door to each other!! Despite having two separate appointment times, the owner kindly invited to look round her house together. She looked up the road and quietly whispered to us. "Thats Ian Bailey's house -- Sophie Du Plantier!!!". Seeing our complete lack of understanding she explained that Ian Bailey was the only suspect in a brutal murder the previous year. We did not buy this house. But unbelievingly we did buy the house next door we had just looked at. And we bought it from Ian Bailey's partner, Jules Thomas!!

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