17 August 2017

Buying apartments "en viager"

A story from back in 1995, which I just encountered:
Andre-Francois Raffray thought he had a great deal 30 years ago: He would pay a 90-year-old woman 2,500 francs (about $500) a month until she died, then move into her grand apartment in a town Vincent van Gogh once roamed.

But this Christmas, Mr. Raffray died at age 77, having laid out the equivalent of more than $184,000 for an apartment he never got to live in

On the same day, Jeanne Calment, now listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's oldest person at 120, dined on foie gras, duck thighs, cheese and chocolate cake at her nursing home near the sought-after apartment in Arles, northwest of Marseilles in the south of France...

Buying apartments "en viager," or "for life," is common in France. The elderly owner gets to enjoy a monthly income from the buyer, who gambles on getting a real estate bargain -- provided the owner dies in due time...
Further details at The New York Times.


  1. I would think that this would invite the buyer to, um, "help" the owner die, if you know what I mean. What prevents that sort of conflict of interest from becoming interesting?

    1. I'm sure it's happened, probably without being noticed. I mean, old people die and have accidents, right?

      And I'm sure novels have been written with this exact plot. In fact, it's just a morph of the "kill him (or her) and collect under the will" theme.


    2. There was a movie a few years ago, starring Maggie Smith and Kevin Kline, called "My Old Lady", about this custom.


  2. There was a famous and funny movie made about that in France, titled... "Le Viager" :
    you can watch it there :
    (sorry, no subtitles)

    The buyers try to kill the old man, but they're mean, vile and stupid, whereas he is awfully nice and kind, and always survives...

    You should also know that Jeanne Calment, who lived to the age of 122 years, had sold in viager her apartment in 1965 to her notary. He died before her, and his wife had to continue to pay... Finally, they had to pay twice the price of her apartment !


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