jeudi 6 avril 2006
There is a way to buy property in France called Vente en Viager. Basically, elderly people decide to sell their house to someone, receiving a down payment right away, and then a certain fixed rent or payment each month until they die. Then the house is all yours, whether they lived one month after the first payment or 10+ years. Here is a true story, taken from
about a french woman who sold her house this way.

Jeanne Louise Calment was born in Arles, France, in 1875. She once met Vincent
Van Gogh. Those facts would probably not be of much interest to anyone were it
not for one other fact. Jeanne died on February 21, 1997. She was 122 years old.
Jeanne outlived a husband, a child, and her only grandson, who died in 1963. She
rode a bike at the age of 100. A notary public named Andre-Francois Raffray once
bought her apartment, paying $500 a month for a promise that he would move into
the apartment upon her death. All told, he paid twice the apartment's market
value before he died in December 1995."In life, one sometimes makes bad deals,"
Jeanne reflected.Jeanne was, in fact, a very quotable woman. Her most immortal
line was, "I've only got one wrinkle and I'm sitting on it." (You can say things
like that when you're the oldest person in the world...)

I am sure it is all carefully calculated with respect to the value of the property, life expectancy, etc. Additionally, if it is a husband and wife living in the house, you have to wait until they both die.

Another article from states

Trust the French to come up with something complicated (and slightly ghoulish) to get their hands on someone else's property. Buying en viager - a legal and time-honoured, but not very common, means of acquisition - involves making a monthly payment to the seller, until he or she dies. It is also known as a "life lease", and certainly it often gives the seller a new lease of life.Although generally considered rather distasteful, the viager, like any other financial transaction, offers advantages for both sides. Take, for example, the people who retire to the South of France only to find that the cost of living there is beyond their means. If they don't have family or other heirs, they can sell their property on the viager basis, collecting a lump sum and a monthly income to add butter and jam to the daily baguette. Looked at from this side of the equation, the viager sounds a little less heartless, although the buyer isn't necessarily a good Samaritan. In this unusual futures market, his side of the transaction is closer to speculation than anything else.

I don't necessarily agree that it is greedy or ghoulish, though it would be strange to visit a prospective house to buy and be secretly sizing up the health and future prospects of the owners, hoping that someday soon they will die or else need to be put in a home.

Besides, it takes advantage of two basic facts of life: 1) everyone needs a place to live and 2) everyone is going to die someday.

Alain's father informed me that "When French don't want to die, they don't die." So I guess the way to ensure that you will live a good long time is to sell your house in Viager!

There is a move called Le Viager based on this theme.

X-Mas 1930 : a 59 year-old man called Martinet goes to Doctor Galipeau for a complete check-up. The doc is sure that his patient will die in some months maybe a year, so he proposes to the old man and his own brother to begin a annuity contract : every year, the Galipeau's will give to the old-timer a sum of money (based on aluminum rates), and when Martinet will die, his house of Provence (in a small unknown town called St-Tropez) will be theirs... But after nine years, the whole family began to think that enough is enough, and they tried to end the existence of Martinet...Simple but excellent plot : Michel Serrault ( only 44 at this time) gets 25 years older...and more, and he is absolutely perfect as the good naive old man, the family Galipeau is perfectly despicable, mainly the doctor, a great Michel Galabru.

I haven't seen it yet, but I guess the family starts to try to knock off the old man, and every year they become fewer and fewer while the viager lives on.


you can search for properties in Viager. It is rather bizarre as often the listings state the age of the person(s) living there. The initial price goes up with the age as well. If you could find a place non-occupied, that would be ideal because then you could at least not be paying rent for two places. Alas, those are rare to find.

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