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April 05, 2006

Contract signed

ContractThe agent phoned around 10am this morning. "Are you still interested in the property?" she asked. Well, we would be homeless in 5 days if we didn't secure it, so I tried my best not to sound desperate as I said, "Yes, quite interested". We arranged to meet in the office with the owner later that day to sign contracts.

Claire spent the morning hunting for furniture, and we left around 12:30. We'd only got a couple of minutes down the road when Claire turned and said "You do have your passport with you and everything don't you?". So, five minutes later, having picked up my passport, we resumed our journey.

Almost as soon as we arrived so did the landlord, and Claire stunned him with a bit of Greek. Then we sat down to business. The contract was fortunately in both Greek and English, so we could follow what we were signing. Our landlord only spoke a smattering of English, and we speak less Greek, so our friendly agent did most of the talking.

The comedy came when it was time to pay. We knew we needed to pay one months rent, plus a bond of one months rent, plus a further one months rent in commission to the agent. This is getting expensive isn't it? Without a Greek bank account set up yet it all has to be done in cash. I gave the landlord the €500 for the months rent, and then had another €500 in cash.

I've never had so much difficulty giving money away. Neither of them wanted to take it. The agent was saying "So you must pay a bond to the owner, and they pay us as commission. Then you pay us as commission. Do you understand?"

"Yes, fine, but who wants this €500? We owe one of you at least €500"

The confusion lay in the fact that the estate agents take €500 from us, and the same from the landlord. Nice work if you can get it. Eventually the landlord snatched the money away from me, and made a theatrical gesture as he presented it to the estate agent.

"OK", I said to the agent, "so now I come back to the office on Friday and pay our commission to you"

It was all agreed. The thing was I didn't want to be walking around Hania with all that cash burning a hole in my pocket, and if I didn't give the landlord the money in person now, I couldn't see when else I was going to get it to him. Plus, there is always the off-chance that I would accidentally squander the money on wine, women and song after watching the Chamions League football this evening. We arranged to pick-up the keys at the apartment at 5pm, shook hands, and that was the deal done.

After just under four months travelling, we will finally have a home again.

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