Wednesday, July 30, 2014

That Greek House ~ Waking from A Daydream

“Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die,
Life’s a broken-winged bird,
that cannot fly.”
                               --Langston Hughes
In this post, we continue to sidestep a bit from “travel” but then what travelers haven’t once or twice imagined themselves chasing a daydream of owning a home in some foreign location. . .

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"That stone house on the hill. . ."
We’d arrived back in The Mani in late June to close in on that daydream of ours: owning a home in Greece. The purpose of our month-long trip was to purchase ‘that stone house on the hill’—the one on the far right in the photo above to be exact. We’d examined it twice last spring along with several others. It was ‘the one’.

DSCF0226Our offer had been accepted, a down payment made and a closing date set before we left the U.S.

By noon our first day in Greece we’d opened a bank account and secured tax ID numbers (both necessary for home ownership in this country).

A few days later we toured the house with its current owners (we’d met them last spring) and had a tutorial on details like power and water sources, and olive grove maintenance.


They were busy packing their belongings to ship back to their homeland, England. Their big boxes would leave several days before closing. They would leave Greece July 17th.

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The house's front deck and view from it

As they prepared to leave; we prepared to arrive and function – if even on our planned part-time basis – in this new world.  We were learning to think of temperatures as Celsius, not Fahrenheit; measurements using the Metric System (cheating by using a dual tape measure we’d purchased that had both millimeters and inches) and we spoke of prices in terms of euros – not dollars. We were immersing ourselves in another culture – just what we had hoped to do with the purchase of a house here.


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View from the bedroom deck
We all moved toward the closing date – the day we would take occupancy of this vacation home of ours: July 10th.

As we would have only 12 days in our new property on this trip we established a timeline of projects that would be undertaken or possibly completed before we returned to the U.S.








The 17-tree olive grove, pictured below, in need of some major trimming, was The Scout’s focus while I had my eye on painting interior walls and getting some new furniture in place.

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I had brought the paint chips with us
We’d decided this home set amidst olive groves would do well with a bit of country rustic and had decided upon these pieces as ‘probable’ for the house that had both dark stone accent walls intermixed with plaster walls in its main living area:

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The furniture we'd chosen
We were ready! Our funds were in the bank and all our paperwork completed except for ‘that document’ that I mentioned last week. So we set off to explore the Peloponnese peninsula’s most western tip during the few days we had before closing.

~ Waking from the Midsummer’s Daydream ~
Upon our return from the road trip we learned the closing date was going to be delayed a few days. The owner’s civil engineer hadn’t yet filed necessary paperwork for the property’s registration – it would ‘surely be done’ by the following week. Then ‘that document’ we’d been waiting for could be prepared and closing could still take place before the owners left for England.  (Perhaps on my July 16th birthday? Now, that would be memorable!)

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Scene on island of Kefalonia

So with more days to fill while we waited we set off on a second road trip, this one took us to the Ionian Island of Kefalonia – an amazingly beautiful land mass in the Ionian Sea. I’ll feature it in an upcoming post.

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Town square in Argostoli, Kefalonia
On our second evening on the island, as we were settling in on the town square to sip some wine, we received what shall forever be known as the daydream ‘wake-up’ call (that’s The Scout on the phone in the upper right hand corner) from our realtor:

New problems had just surfaced. . . other paperwork – several years worth of income tax reports, necessary for the sale of the house, hadn’t been filed by the owners.

(Note: If you own property in Greece you must file annual income tax returns whether you generate income there or not – in fact, you must file documentation each year to show from where your funds do come. You must file other income tax forms reporting the ownership of property.)

The owners -- who’d lived there for years apparently hadn’t known that—they’d never filed a report. It would delay the closing a minimum of another 10 days to 2 weeks. The owners would search for those documents after they returned to England as that’s where they believed the documents were.

And they also needed to find proof of their purchase of the house. . .it, too, was believed to be in England.

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Bougainvillea blooms and blue skies on Kefalonia
Our flight back to the U.S. was July 22nd.

If found, none of their new documentation would even be submitted for review until the first of August. If approved. . .

So, it was that lovely warm evening on Kefalonia that our daydream got away from us. As we calculated the growing list of “if’s” that loomed ahead and the mounting costs of this already pricey trip, we called the deal off.

We had been so concerned about bringing all the appropriate paperwork we needed for the sale, it hadn’t occurred to us to ask if the sellers had all the paperwork in place that they needed – after all, the house had been on the market for more than two years. . .

Instead of closing in on that daydream, we spent a portion of my birthday at our Greek bank completing paperwork to return our money for the house purchase back to the U.S.  (It arrived a few hours before we did the following week.)

The owners left for England on their scheduled July 17th.

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The freeway between Athens and The Mani
We left The Mani, drove to Athens and flew home on our scheduled date.

Instead of the decade or so we’d envisioned, our daydream ended up lasting only a month. But had we not acted on it, we’d have always wondered if we would have had the courage to do it.

This trip proved we could . . .

We came so very close.

And so ends the daydream tales from Greece – for now. We will get back to reality travel tales with our next post.  Thanks for joining us today ~ it always is fun to have friends along on the journey; especially when they don’t go as expected!

Linking up:
Budget Travelers Sandbox – Travel Photo Thursday
Sunday’s Weekend Travel Inspirations and Sunday Traveler
Mosaic Monday

39 comments:

  1. Oh, Jackie, I cannot lie: I am feeling sadness...and surprise, as your narrative and photos seemed like they were leading to the actualization of your dreams, only to find out in the end, that they were not realized...THIS time. For, I hope that you have not given up on your dream home in Greece. After all, from what I understand, the glitch was due to the English sellers' ignorance of procedures and necessary papers, and not in Greek 'red tape'.

    The house, itself, is beautiful and the views are BREATHTAKING! Perhaps this was the first part of your journey, and the next one, the fated one, is not far away.

    Greece misses you!

    xx
    Poppy

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    1. You are experiencing our feelings exactly! We were headed to home ownership and were stunned when we found the owners had done nothing to prepare to sell (they had opted not to hire an attorney; we did) and I suspect that 'money-saving' move on their part cost them the sale. And yes, be assured that our "Greek" dealings went smoothly with the most-helpful of people. . .from our banker to the tax clerk to the accountant, attorney and realtor. It was the sellers who prompted the wake up call. We did look at other houses while there and property but need some time to recover from this experience: "Once burned, twice shy" is our new mantra for a time. Sorry I won't be a long-distance Greek neighbor. . . Hugs, Jackie

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  2. Hello Jackie
    I feel saddened that your dream was not realized. The location looks spectacular and what an adventure.
    We know, only too well, from purchasing a house in Ireland the amount time it takes for paperwork to happen. Real estate transactions are entirely different from North America and the time it takes to close seems endless. I cannot imagine how it would be dealing with a real estate transaction in another language. Congratulations on your chutzpah.
    Helenxx

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    1. I thought you'd understand, Helen. We onced owned homes in Mexico so we were prepared for the paperwork requirements that might occur. Unfortunately the owners either hadn't really wanted to sell or had never gotten around to seeking advice on what they needed to have to be able to sell. The Greeks we dealt with were efficient and timely and most helpful. Sadly, the sellers turned out not to be. So we are back in Kirkland, 'regrouping' as you might say. As I told Poppy we are in the "one burned, twice shy" mode and I am not sure what that might mean for future daydreams. . .maybe time and distance will work in our favor and by next year. . .????

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  3. Well bummer. That just stinks!
    Cousin Shelley

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    1. You just can't predict life's twists and turns, no matter how well you research and plan, can you? Just have to focus on a new adventure!

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  4. Can the deal be resurrected now that the sellers have had their due diligence placed before them in Day Glo neon letters?

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    1. The house is still for sale so in theory I suppose a deal could be resurrected if both parties were interested in doing so and if all the paperwork necessary for a sale had actually been obtained by the sellers and accepted by the government.

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  5. Nooo!!! Oh gawd I am so sorry to hear this! I was enjoying living vicariously through you and Joel in this dream home pursuit. That view and the olive trees! Oh my gosh. Like Suzanne said, is there any chance the deal can be revisited after the owners get all of their paperwork in order and filed??

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    1. Thanks much for your thoughts and I am glad we took you along on this adventure. As I told Suzanne, I suppose the deal could be resurrected if the paperwork was in order and acceptable to the authorities. . .and if both parties were interested in going forward.

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  6. It wasn't meant to be and perhaps for your "own good". You were right, the sellers weren't that serious to start with. But don't be "shy ". Keep on looking. When we were on our hunt for our now abode in the south of France, it also took a while and the finalisation also took unusually long and vowed to continue looking if it didn't push through. A door closes, new ones will open. Better ones!

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    1. We did keep on looking Marlys, as we spent another couple of days tramping through construction sites (maybe finish off a home?), walking through olive groves (maybe building a home?) and looking at homes on the resale market. The intensity of this trip though made us decide it was time to take a step back and clear our heads and decide just what we do want to do for that next 'adventure. I agree that after the third shoe dropped I did have that niggle of a thought that this wasn't meant to be for some yet-to-be-discovered reason. Thanks for the words of encouragement!

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  7. I know how much you wanted the house, Jackie, but believe me when I say the gods were very kind to you in stepping in as they did. You are the dream, not the house or the place, and you guys bring it along to wherever you go...even a long-term rental. :)

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Jeff! Yes, we are content - at least for awhile - to be those roaming nomads you've come to know. Footloose and fancy-free might be the best approach. Although we did so much research on cultivation of olive trees and harvest, that we may have to return in late November just to participate in one of these annual harvest celebrations! Thanks for stopping by the blog~hope to see you this fall somewhere along the book route.

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  8. Oh my goodness. You certainly managed to keep us all in suspense. I was totally fooled, although I was wary of trying to get something done in a timely fashion in Greece. (And I was looking at my calendar to see when I could come visit!)

    And then in a comment above you use "efficient" and "Greek" in the same sentece. Never thought I'd see that!!
    Like others, I'm hoping that this is a classic case of "When door closes, a new window opens" or vice versa. Maybe that WASN'T the house you were meant to have. There's another one waiting for you.

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    1. We would have had the welcome mat out for you! And I do agree with the door closing and some new opportunity coming along so will keep our eyes open for 'the next adventure'. I do have to repeat that the "Greek" part of this process was fabulous. . .everything done in a timely and efficient manner and a good example of the service level was when 'our' banker called us to let us know that our second deposit had arrived in our account from the U.S.! We don't get that kind of service from BoA back home, I can tell you that. Thanks for taking time to comment.

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  9. Oh gosh I am sorry to read this - but all things happens for a reason and IF you decide to follow your dream to own a stone house in Greece there will be something better just ahead. Hugs to you both and now you know another valuable question to ask a vendor... F xx

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    1. Yes Francesca, I told Joel that if there is a next time, I will want to see copies of all stamped, signed and approved documents from the sellers' side before I even make a plane reservation. Then in addition to the down payment we buyers need to deposit (and forfeit to the sellers in the event the sale doesn't go through) I will want a 'good faith down payment on their side which will go to cover the costs of our travel should the deal fall through at the last minute because of their inability to close. Sounds hard-nosed, I know, but maybe it will assure that everything really is in place to move forward should we again take such a quantum leap. Thanks for stopping by today, hugs, Jackie

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  10. I can only imagine how you feel, even I feel let down :(

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    1. I have to admit that between the intensity of that summertime Greek sun, and our activities, we did return home drained. It is taking a bit longer than usual to bounce back from this trip. I am sure it won't be long before we are back in the saddle again and this is filed away as another chapter to remember. Thanks for your visit!

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  11. Ah, Jackie, so sorry to hear this. I'm a bit gob smacked that people can be so irresponsible (I won't say dumb). Perhaps, (not so) deep down they really didn't want to sell. Hopefully, there is another beautiful Greek home in your future!

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    1. There are plenty of beautiful Greek homes out there, Nancie, so there could be one in our future yet. Maybe it will be a rental! Thanks much for your words today!

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  12. Oh luv, how wretchedly heartbreaking and frustrating. XOXO As much as I ache for this loss, I am secretly so excited to see what BETTER thing is waiting in the wings for you. XOXO

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    1. I am a firm believer in fate and things happening for a reason; especially in cases where the research and planning have all been done and then it still falls apart at the last minute. So I am sure something new is out there just waiting for us to discover it. thanks for being with us! Hugs to you and happy weekend ahead. . .

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  13. Oh no. I was so certain that your cliffhanger from last week would have a happy ending. I even liked the furniture you picked out for that stone house on the hill. Is it realistic to do long term rentals there instead of home ownership? I hope that you'll have another chance to chase your dream.

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    1. I have to admit I did the cliff-hanger on purpose as I wanted you all to have the same sensations we did. . .certainty that it would close and then having it not close. And yes, there are many rental options - short and long term - and those will definitely be among future considerations. Thanks for the visit Michele!

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  14. Oh dear how exasperating. Although it's great you had a month, I'm sad things didn't materialise the way you wanted them too. the view from the bedroom did it for me and the sea, the bougainvillea - what wasn't too love. I hope you fulfill your dream in the future.

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    1. It was a great month and we met a lot of incredible people and enjoyed an area of the world that we love. So from that point of view, it was an outstanding trip. . .a good place to start working on new daydreams. ;-) thanks for stopping by today, Jo - as always, it is appreciated!

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  15. It's surprising that in two years they didn't think of making sure they had all the paperwork. How irresponsible! Maybe it was a good thing. If they didn't keep up with their paperwork (and as you said, the garden needs work), it makes me wonder what else they didn't keep up with.
    So sorry, Jackie! Don't give up on your dream. Something perfect is coming your way, I'm sure of it. Belated Happy Birthday - my mother shared the same birth date - July 16th.

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    1. Thanks for the visit Marcia and I appreciate your words of wisdom. . .yes, it did make one wonder what else might not have been kept up with. . .sigh. How nice to know your mom and I shared a birthday - I will think of her on the 16th each year that I celebrate another b-day.

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  16. I'm sorry Jackie and Joel that it ended like this. I was so excited for both of you when seeing those gorgeous views from your house. I'm glad you still had that month there. Maybe, another stone house on a hill is waiting for you elsewhere. Belated Happy Birthday! Keep chasing that dream!

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    1. After we rest up and regroup, we likely will continue chasing that daydream! Thanks for stopping by ~ always appreciated!

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  17. So sorry that buying the house didn't work, but glad you found out before going to much farther. I know you two will continue to enjoy Greece and might even find the right home - just around the corner. Happy Belated Birthday, Jackie!

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    1. Thanks for the b-day wishes! And yes, it is good we hadn't invested any more time or money into this process -- would have been nice to know before we spent what we did to get and stay there in the height of tourist season, but oh well, live and learn! Take care~

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  18. Jackie, What a disheartening feeling...to be so close. Although, I have to say it's always the paperwork that gets in the way, isn't it? Good luck with determining your next move! And thanks for linking up with Weekend Travel Inspiration!

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    1. And thank you Corinne for hosting such a fun linkup - it really does provide travel inspiration. Until next week ~

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  19. Hi Jackie, I know it could be very disappointing but I'd like to think of it as a blessing in disguise. As a worn but very true cliche goes, things happen for a reason. You planted the seed of your dream, I'm sure it will ripen and the perfect house - with all the seller's documentation - will someday materialize.

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  20. In my catch up, Jackie, I hadn't realised that the deal had fallen through, until I read your mention of it in a more recent post. How very unfortunate, after all the time and effort you both put into it. Here's to you finding something else at least as good in the future!

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  21. Hi Jackie and Joel,

    I found your blog really useful for all who want to live and buy a property in Greece. As well after looking at many of your blogs I would love that you write more about Croatia.

    Thank you for sharing.

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So happy to see you took the time to comment. We read them all - and each is much appreciated. We hope you will be a regular here and comment often!

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