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Key News on Buying French Property

Are you looking to buy property in France

Despite the current political turmoil Brits are still buying homes in France. Maybe they are driven by the need to get away from the current chaos to somewhere more peaceful. It is certainly true that most Brits, when buying a French property choose a rural location and in most of France that generally equates to buying a home somewhere where it feels as though time has stood still. Much of France has managed to hold onto its traditional values and this, coupled with landscapes of abundant meadows, woods, rivers and lakes offers the opportunity of a retreat into the past. Holidaying in your own French property can be the perfect antidote to a stressful urban U.K. life.

So, the key news on buying French property is that Brits are continuing to do so driven more than ever by the need to provide a peaceful haven for family and friends to relax amongst beautiful countryside. The ongoing news about buying French property is that low house prices and better climate are still important. Most of France enjoys a better climate than the U.K. and the further south you head the warmer and more reliable it becomes. Holidays with predictable sunshine and warmth are more relaxing than those spent dodging rain showers. The idea of long lunches in the garden shared with family, friends and neighbours is not a dream in France, this is the way summers are spent. French property prices remain tempting with rural prices being almost unbelievably low. In the U.K. much rural property has become expensive as people try to escape the stresses of city life by moving out. Luckily in France there is still a lot of country property, in all states of repair, waiting to be bought at bargain prices.

Key news on buying French property

Anyone contemplating buying a French property should be aware that in doing so they will be making an investment in a way of life. It has never been wise to think about buying a French property as a financial investment. Certainly there are many people Brits who have managed to make a profit when selling their French property but usually this has been brought about by vision and hard work. These people have seen a property needing renovation and have usually done the work on it themselves turning an old barn, cottage or farmhouse into a very desirable home. However, if, like most buyers, you are looking to buy a French property to enjoy as a holiday home in which to relax you would be wise to consider your investment purely as one in a quality of life.

The second piece of advice I would offer to anyone planning to buy a French property for a holiday home is, once you have thought carefully about everything you want the house to have, look at your list and think smaller! One of the most frequent mistakes I have seen people make when looking to buy a French property is to buy a house and garden which is too large. It is really important to be realistic about how often you will be able to use the house, who is likely to visit it at the same time and how much garden you really need. Many times people think in terms of wanting 3 or 4 bedrooms for the odd occasion that the whole family will visit or many friends will come down to stay. In reality most owners of holiday homes in France find that they are only using one bedroom for most of their stays. I think it is worth considering buying a 2 bedroomed house and using a tent or chalet in the garden for additional summer visitors. The size of house you buy will affect all your running costs, the tax d’habitation, the tax fonciere, utilities and general maintenance. Often larger houses are cheaper than smaller ones to buy which is how buyers can get tempted into buying something that is too big. But beware the trap – small and simple can be so much better for your bank balance and for your relaxation.

In considering buying smaller when choosing your French property it is also important to think realistically about how you are going to manage the garden of your holiday home when you are not in residence. Buying a house with a large garden can be tempting for us Brits living in properties that seem to be being built with smaller and smaller gardens. With life in the U.K. often feeling busier and more crowded year on year, buying a property with a large garden seems to be a way to secure a relaxing and peaceful setting for your holiday home. However, if you have to spend every visit cutting grass and weeding you may find that a large garden does not offer you the relaxed lifestyle you were planning!

Thirdly, when thinking about buying a French property for your holidays many people plan to cover the running costs by letting the property when not using it. Some people have certainly made this work but it is not always as simple as it sounds. If you are planning to go down this route then the things to consider are:-

  1. How many high season weeks (Easter and summer school holidays) will you be using the property yourself? Most owners of holiday properties that they let out believe that it is unrealistic to expect to get bookings for more than 8-12 weeks a year and the most certain weeks to be able to book it out are the school holidays. If this is when you plan to use the property then it may be best to forgo the idea of covering your running costs by letting your property.
  2. How will you arrange for cleaning and change overs and for general maintenance of the property? In some areas there are companies set up to do such work but their fees are usually high. Alternatively you may be able to find a local person to do this work but you need to ensure that you have a back up plan in case of difficulties if you are relying on only one person to carry out everything necessary to maintain the expected standards for your holidaymakers.
  3. There is a lot of French holiday rental on the market and potential holidaymakers are looking for more and more luxury in the properties they choose to rent. If you can’t meet the luxury standards then it is good to have some other special feature to offer. You will need to make your property stand out from the crowd to get maximum annual lets. It is essential when choosing the house to buy to ensure that it is photogenic as generally people looking for holiday homes to rent are drawn initially by the photos.
  4. It is also worth considering how you are going to remove and store all personal items when you are not using the property. Holidaymakers certainly no longer expect to arrive to a property that has any remnants of the owners’ personal possessions present.

Taking all of this into account it is definitely seriously worth thinking carefully about whether you really want to let your holiday home out to other people when you are not using it. Which brings me back to my point about the possibility of buying something smaller than your first ideas may have framed. If you lower your annual costs of running the property maybe you can enjoy the luxury of having a real home from home in France. Somewhere that can be a personal place of peace and relaxation for yourself, your family and close friends.

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