Buying flats by offering to pay a set monthly fee to elderly people for the remainder of their life for property (called en viager, meaning â€śfor lifeâ€ť) is common in France. The elderly owner enjoys a monthly income from the buyer, who in turn gets a real-estate bargain â€“ providing the owner dies sooner than later.
Andre-Francois Raffray thought that he had closed a great deal 32 years ago: he would pay a 90-year-old woman $625 a month until she died, then move into her flat in the French town of Arles. But in December 1995 it was Raffray who died, having paid more than $230,000.
Raffray, 77 when he passed away, had the misfortune of arranging the deal with Jeanne Calment, 122, listed in The Guinness Book of Records as the worldâ€™s oldest person. Raffrayâ€™s widow is obliged to keep sending the cheques, and should Calment outlive her, Raffrayâ€™s children will have to pay as well.
Extract from Readerâ€™s Digest â€“ May 1997