This was the closest that we'd been in our months of searching. We'd our Immaculate gestoria, our surveyors report of pretty pictures and a plan, and our hearts deeply set on two acres of gently sloping Spanish countryside upon which six, or was it seven, total 'basket case' houses sat.
What should we do next?
We decided to rely upon our vast English property buying knowledge and experience, drawn from both of the West Yorkshire houses that we'd bought in the last twenty years...and we made an offer. Not any old offer mind you, it was an offer based on a detailed formula, one rationalised and agonised over for hours. An offer pitched just at the right level to secure the house, and allow enough budget for the monumental renovation task that would follow. Not too big, and not too small, it was perfect.
The following morning I allowed the nervousness to build for an hour and then called Ramon. Butterflies in my stomach, slightly sweaty palms, Ramon set off at his usual one hundred miles an hour. After listening for a while about his plans for one of his houses, taking the dog for a walk, and a new restaurant he'd found on his last trip, I managed to but in and said 'We'd like to make an offer on Liñeiras'.
'Oh, great' said Ramon. I could almost see him smiling at the other end of the phone.
I put our carefully crafted offer to him, the type offer which would get the greedy contestant thinking very hard during a tense game of 'Deal, or No Deal', our offer that we thought should secure our dream house. Then silence, not even the sound of the wind that had been buffetting Ramons mobile phone microphone for the last twenty minutes as he exercised his dog. It was the kind of silence that made me suspect that he'd put his phone in his pocket while he stifled the laughs. 'Okay', he came back, a sterness in his voice, 'I ask Julio to put offer to the seller'.
Seconds, then minutes, then an hour passed and Ramon called back. 'No' he said, 'Julio, he say no'. I waited for the counter offer but it wasn't forthcoming. 'Try again' said Ramon. Amanda and I had discussed this eventuality and what our reaction would be, but in the heat of the moment I said 'Okay, up our offer by five thousand Euros'.
'Better' said Ramon, and hung up.
More hours passed and the phone rang again. 'Julio say seller say no'. Stunned, I asked what the counter-offer was and Ramon struggled with the concept. It was becoming obvious that in Spain you make an offer and it is either accepted or rejected. There is no counter-offer, no negotiation, a simple 'yes' or 'no'. We'd had our second 'No'.
Amanda and I talked long and hard through the night and we decided on a second increase, the increments getting smaller, which would be followed by a third, if necessary. We were, however, getting closer to our absolute purchase budget. Another call to Ramon and another offer saw yet another couple of hours wait before a third 'No' but this time something out of the ordinary, a previously unheard of Spanish counter-offer. Ramon was stunned, but I was in my element. Now they were playing my game.
I made an offer under their counter-offer (I hope that you are keeping up at the back) and finally they came back with a final-final offer half way between theirs and mine (via text message as I was on the golf course playing a competitive away match). We textually shook hands, my opponent waiting impatiently on the fourteenth green, frowning at my lack of etiquette, and the house was ours, all bar the contracts. The excitement of wanting to get home and tell Amanda was overpowering. My golf game went rapidly downhill and from being in the lead at the time of the text, I lost the matchplay game with holes to spare.