Umm, ask the estate agent who he will send the money to?

It’s a spacious mansion in rural France – a highly desirable property.
So why it has remained empty since 1998 remains something of a mystery.
The stately building, located in the Nord-pas-de-Calais region, was abandoned nearly two decades ago and yet appears to be almost perfectly preserved.
Here, offering a rare glimpse inside, images from Vacant Photography reveal the remnants of human habitation scattered throughout the rooms; from music resting on the piano to soap products in the bathroom and slippers placed next to the bed.
Currently on sale by a local estate agent for the bargain price of £115,000, the house remains shrouded in unanswered questions.
The photographers, who wouldn’t reveal its exact location in order to protect it from ‘people with bad intentions’, noticed a calendar on the kitchen wall from 1998, but couldn’t track down any further clues as to its last owners.

Of course, it’s always possible that Hale Bopp came to get these peeps, not the Californians.

27 comments on “Umm, ask the estate agent who he will send the money to?

  1. Just a thought (based on really very little), but I wonder if there’s not some escrow-type system in French law for such cases of abandoned properties where the owners are untraceable – the property is sold under orders of the municipality money sits in an account until the owners or their inheritors rock up? And if they don’t after x years the municipality gets the cash?

  2. Anyway, there’s something about the story that doesn’t quite add up – look at the vegetation on the outside picture – that’s not 20 years of being left to nature – it would be much more grown up than that around the house.

    Unless the estate agents sent the gardeners around to give it a minor tidy-up.

  3. Empty since 1998? Then why are there house plants in some rooms, and a bunch of grapes on the dining table? Of course, they could artificial plants and grapes…

  4. “Dear God that’s cheap. A useful reminder of just how expensive Britain is.”

    The UK is expensive, but you can still pick up not dissimilar dilapidated properties in remote and unfashionable corners of these islands.

  5. “Dear God that’s cheap. A useful reminder of just how expensive Britain is.”

    But rural Pas de Calais is the arse end of northern France… And that property will need partial gutting, and probably a new roof.

  6. I’d imagine if you looked around and asked the estate agent what’s in the cellar he’d say “Fuck knows, no way I’m going down there!”

    And when you did, the mystery would be solved.

  7. Too many clues. Whole areas of plaster gone in the bedroom & the glazing completely missing from one window. Yet no sign of the detritus, or blown in leaves or the wildlife would have set up home there. Tiles fallen off in the bathroom but no tile cement on the floor. A bowl of fresh grapes in the dining room.
    Someone’s gone through that place, cleaning up, then set dressed it for photos.
    Neat marketing ploy for an otherwise hard to flog property. At 115k, tempting. Property’s not cheap in 59/62. It’s not unlike SE.England. and if that’s stone, not stucco, unusual. Redbrick is pretty well the rule across the region, for this sort of place. So’s the slate roof. But I’d smell structural problems. If there’s been water ingress, dry rot could have got its teeth in & that can be very major, to eradicate.

  8. But rural Pas de Calais is the arse end of northern France… And that property will need partial gutting, and probably a new roof.

    That’s exactly the issue: these cheap places are in the middle of nowhere (meaning, 30 mins drive from the nearest *small* town), not serviced by the phone or mains water, and in need of repair. The repairs will have to be carried out by a licensed artisan using original materials: the roof alone will probably cost 2-3 times the purchase price. Plus, who needs all those rooms in a place miles from anywhere?

    You can see the decline of France’s large rural properties in the dozens of antique bazaars that are dotted about the place (I saw loads outside Nantes last weekend), full of old doors, furniture, crockery, knick-knacks, books, even clothes. There are mountains of this stuff, but where would you put it? None of it seems to be being sold very quickly. I always find these places rather sad.

  9. Really clever bit of marketing. You’ve got a dilapidated abandoned house to sell, still with all the furnishings in it from years ago, so you send the cleaners in, tidy it up, arrange the furniture etc, take a few photos, send them to the press with a story about a ‘mystery abandoned mansion’ for sale, and hey presto, enough free publicity to double the price of the property.

  10. As TimN said, it isn’t cheap. To bring that up to scratch in France will easily cost you the thick end of 750k.

  11. ‘Currently on sale by a local estate agent….’

    A French estate agent requires proof of ownership… a copy of the attestation from a Notaire or previous Acte de Vente, a copy of the latest Avis de Taxe Foncière which has the owner’s name on it, and France like the UK has a Land Registry.

    And of course, you can always ask the locals.

    So previous owners are easily traceable.

    In France propety may not be willed and after death of the owner it must pass to nearest surviving blood relative(s). It may take a while to locate them.

    In some cases none can be found, or if there is a large number of distant relatives, they may decline the inheritance because the value of their share may be lower than taxes due and legal fees.

    In such cases neither la Mairie nor the tax authorites have any legal right to dispose of the property. Sometime houses remain empty until they fall down.

    No mystery at all… but then it was in the Daily Wail.

  12. “Spacious mansion”? That’s not my idea of a spacious mansion. Looks more like the house for the estates manager to live in.

  13. @TimN
    That’s SW France, you’re describing. There’s nowhere in PdeC/N more than a short drive from a town has the usual Carrefour/E-LeClerk (saw directions for E-LeC in Madrid, Monday. Didn’t realise they’d started on the ES market. They get a foothold across the Channel, Tesco can say bye-bye to market share.). the ports on the coast. Lille conurbation, proximity to Benelux. There’s plenty of economic activity. Village I lived in. Very agricultural, but highly mechanised. Wasn’t a house wasn’t spic ‘n span, often a new car in the drive.
    You’re absorbing too much Parisian. Oui. Ch’ti and all that. Flamands aren’t really French. Behave & think more like the Dutch & English. Hence beyond the pale.

  14. My guess the house is the outcome of French inheritance law.probably owned by 4 or 5 family members. None of whom can afford to live in it but nobody can agree what to do with it. Family I know, lives 59, has got one, although a lot more modest. Belonged to Granny. Now the 2 sons & 2 daughters plus various spouses are locked in a decades long dispute over what to do with it. There’s ample grandchildren could benefit from a roof over their heads, but favouring one locks out the others. No-one will spend *their* money on it because that’d be like donating it to the other three. So it sits & falls to pieces

  15. There’s nowhere in PdeC/N more than a short drive from a town

    I was referring to the “French chateau for just £100k” stories in general, a lot of them are absolutely miles from anywhere. Even in western Normandy the “bargain” farmhouses are a 20 min drive from Vire, which is a place best seen in the rearview mirror.

  16. None of whom can afford to live in it but nobody can agree what to do with it.

    A standard French meeting, then.

    No-one will spend *their* money on it

    Yes, definitely a standard French meeting.

  17. We’ve discussed Vire before, haven’t we? Well it does have interesting…..cows. Doesn’t it? AND a McDonalds!!!

  18. “Umm, ask the estate agent who he will send the money to?”

    That’s assuming he is sending the money anywhere. Must be scope for an enterprising agent to team up with a corrupt notaire and flog abandoned houses. Could get away with it for years before anyone notices and it’s time to flee the country.

  19. Tel said:
    “’Spacious mansion’? That’s not my idea of a spacious mansion. Looks more like the house for the estates manager to live in.”

    Indeed. Pretty enough, in a froggy style, but size is more like a lodge-keeper’s cottage than a mansion.

  20. Kinky property porn from the Mail.

    If that’s a genuine grand piano then it’s probably the most valuable thing in the whole article.

  21. Rob: Even from the photo it looks like that that piano is most likely either ruined, or in very bad shape. Note the four keys that aren’t in proper position. That’s a bad sign.

  22. On the basis of some of the more “observant” comments (more observant than me, clearly!), I reckon this is:

    – Inherited property the multiple heirs haven’t decided what to do with for almost 20 years;
    – finally they decide to sell the delapidated wreck;
    – “hé, why don’t we spin a great story so zat one of zose English iidiots will come and acheter ze place – it’s not far from ze tunnel, after all?”

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