French Ven­tures

Provincial Living - - Photography - Stephanie Berry

France is un­ques­tion­ably a beau­ti­ful coun­try with many hid­den gems to ex­plore, great wines to taste and de­li­cious food to savour. Af­ter a re­lax­ing hol­i­day en­joy­ing all the French lifestyle has to of­fer, it can be very tempt­ing to con­sider buy­ing a prop­erty in France.

Why buy a prop­erty in France?

Own­ing a sec­ond home in France is sim­ply a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence. It’s a home-from-home for trips to Europe and a way to gather friends and fam­ily in one place where ev­ery­one feels as though they are on hol­i­day. It needn’t cost much to run — it’s easy to rent out the right prop­erty and this can more than cover run­ning costs. In­ter­net rental sites now make it much eas­ier and more pre­dictable to let hol­i­day homes and lo­cal agents will man­age the day-to-day run­ning of it for you.

Where and what to buy?

Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion. As with buy­ing a prop­erty any­where, lo­ca­tion is key to mak­ing a sound fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment. Your prop­erty will gen­er­ally hold its value even in a mar­ket down­turn if it of­fers some­thing unique and is well si­t­u­ated. Cheap prop­er­ties of­ten are for a rea­son!

Look for unique selling points. All-year-round in­ter­est, good air­port ac­cess, a beau­ti­ful view, out­door space in a town cen­tre, a good qual­ity neigh­bour­hood, shops within walk­ing dis­tance, and a build­ing of char­ac­ter will all make your prop­erty more de­sir­able.

Don’t com­pro­mise on any­thing that could be a risk to re­sale.

How do you find the right prop­erty?

The in­ter­net is a good start­ing point. SeLoger.com and Ex­plorimmo.com are the lead­ing prop­erty sites and can give you a good feel but the sheer vol­ume of prop­er­ties for sale, French lan­guage and typ­i­cally slow re­sponses from es­tate agents can make it frus­trat­ing. So, when buy­ing from over­seas, us­ing a prop­erty fin­der to act as your agent is highly rec­om­mended.

Prop­erty fin­ders spe­cialise in spe­cific ar­eas of France and know them in­ti­mately. They also have ac­cess to pri­vate sales and are of­ten con­tacted first when new prop­er­ties come onto the mar­ket. Most im­por­tantly, they pre-screen prop­er­ties for you to make your view­ing trip ef­fec­tive and their lo­cal knowl­edge al­lows them to drive a harder bar­gain on price.

How do you en­sure you get the best price?

The good news is that the French prop­erty price in­dex launched last Septem­ber pro­vides real-time price in­for­ma­tion. You can ac­cess av­er­age sale price data per me­tre square by re­gion, town, neigh­bour­hood and even main streets. But prices still vary depend­ing on lo­ca­tion and qual­ity, and start­ing prices tend to be set very dif­fer­ently, so knowl­edge of the lo­cal mar­ket is es­sen­tial to your ne­go­ti­a­tion.

Is the pur­chase process com­pli­cated?

Prop­erty pur­chase in France is a reg­u­lated, le­gal process and the steps are well de­fined. As a first-time buyer you should still take ad­vice from some­one with pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence. Ask for a rec­om­men­da­tion for a good, English-speak­ing no­taire to act for you in the trans­ac­tion and get as­sis­tance with trans­la­tion of the doc­u­ments if you are not bilin­gual.

In sum­mary

Now is a good time to buy in France — prop­erty prices have flat­tened while French mort­gages re­main ac­ces­si­ble to Aus­tralians and are at record lows (and well be­low Aus­tralian rates). It’s a buyer’s mar­ket and good deals can be ne­go­ti­ated. Take ad­vice first and re­mem­ber this is not a short-term in­vest­ment and is, first of all, a lifestyle choice.

Im­ages: Takasu

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