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Answers to your questions on French citizenship, fosses septiques and B&BS
Is it easier to buy an existing B&B instead of setting up a new one? Name supplied Sally Stone, director of property management company Les Bons Voisins (lbvfrance.com) replies: The answer to your questions is a pretty straight forward “yes”. If a chambres d’hôte is established and has the potential of returning guests, that will help you in the early stages when you are picking up the reins of a business which is new to you. However, when you say, “existing B&B” there is some background as to how that business is purchased which may be of interest to you and will help your understanding and could potentially influence your decision.
It is unlikely that when you buy a property currently used for bed and breakfast, you really purchase a business as well. The norm tends to be that an attractive property has had two or three bedrooms used by the owners as bed and breakfast rooms, but that when they come to sell the property, the ‘goodwill’, if you like, for that business will enhance the price they ask for the property, rather than there being two transactions, one for the property and one which would be for the separate business.
When you purchase a business in France, you are purchasing a separate ‘ fonds de commerce’. Unless the chambres d’hôte is more of a small hotel (the former has a limit of five bedrooms before a plethora of regulations come into play) it is very unlikely that there will be a properly audited and separate business. For that to be the case, you would need audited books for the past three years and a separate valuation would be made for the fonds de commerce. If by any chance you need to raise finance to buy it, then any request for a loan for your purchase would only take account of the business if you were buying the fonds de commerce separately. Any mortgage loan would not be able to take into account an enhanced value which might be placed on the property by the existing owner, because of the income received via their bed and breakfast guests.
Coming right back to your original question, it could be that purchasing a larger property not currently used for bed and breakfast suits your budget better since there would not be an enhanced value for the property.
And in these days of Airbnb which is fast growing and an excellent way to market bed and breakfast accommodation, it wouldn’t take you long to bring your new business to the attention of some of the millions of people who holiday in France every year!