This beautiful estate is not far from Duras in the Entre-Deux-Mers, south west France
Going through the listings of real estate in France is not the best way to find the right home in the right place at the right price. There are a lot of French properties out there, within your budget. The question is how best to find the second home of your dreams in France. In this post, I will give you some excellent tips.
With French property market close to the bottom of a cycle, there is some great value to be found out there. Now is a good time to buy because French mortgage rates are close to historical lows too. To add to these two facts, take a look at the exchange rate between the dollar and the Euro. These three factors mean that it is a buyer’s market which puts you in the driving seat when it comes to striking a deal. Avoid low-balling your offer though. A French vendor may well take offense and consider your offer to be insulting.
When you set out to look for a house in the French real estate market, it is crucial that you focus on finding a property that meets your needs as far as location is concerned. The site has to be right. The orientation of the buildings has to be right. And most of all, it needs to be where you feel most comfortable. Not too far from a city to feel isolated yet not so close that you have near neighbors and a view spoiled by unsightly buildings, for instance.
Determining value will require you to actually visit quite a few properties with your French property finder before you get a feel for it. Find out how long the property has been on the market. Ask questions about why it has not yet sold. Look out for clues that may make the property less than ideal. A little road noise perhaps. Or a high tension electricity pylon. Or even, neighbors who are just a little too close. But most of all, find out about how badly the vendor needs to sell. Put all this information together and you will know not only how much you are prepared to pay but also how deeply it will be possible to discount the asking price. Does that represent value to you?
Pay special attention to the amount of renovation needed. I have yet to visit a house in south west France, that does not need some sort of improvement even if it’s only to stamp my client’s taste on the interior, for example. Get estimates from local artisans for the work needed or speak to an architect if you envisage some structural alterations. If you are truly serious about buying, you will have to do this anyway so it is best to know whether the upgrading costs fit into your overall budget of not.
Buying real estate in a foreign country brings with it a certain set of very real challenges. French laws are some what different to what you are used to. The real estate market in France is structured differently too. For instance, there is no MLS in France. And of course, your whole property transaction will be conducted in French (if you don’t speak French fluently, you may need help from someone who does. Finally, you may not have the time to spend weeks scouring the countryside for that one perfect property and doing so from the other side of the Atlantic is next to impossible by yourself.
Having someone on your team who can pre-visit properties that you have a particular interest in will make the whole buying process a lot simpler. That means he or she will live in the area. Be licensed and insured. And speak French almost like a native, of course. Working with a French property finder will cost you no more than if you conducted the whole search yourself and kept track of multiple immobiliers in the process. They act as your representative throughout the entire search and acquisition process. They are happy to recommend the best dual-qualified lawyers, mortgage and currency brokers and financial advisers to ensure that you structure your purchase as efficiently as possible. Once you own your home in France, your property finder remains your local contact and can recommend caretakers, gardeners, architects and builders. To find out more click here
Rory Ramsden is a French property finder and buyer's agent working for high net worth private clients wishing to buy a chateau, manor or vineyard in the south west of France. He has lived in France for 8 years after spending time travelling the world on business.
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