Ask the agent

Every month we ask an estate agent for the inside track on their patch. In this issue, we talk to Cate Carnduff of Agence Immobili�re Herman De Graaf, an estate agency in Dordogne...

What’s the cheapest property you have on your books right now? At €60,000 (�56,256), the cheapest habitable house we have is a typical stone p�rigourdine farmhouse. It has a covered terrace, a large kitchen/living area, a bathroom, a bedroom, and a room that has yet to be converted. It’s set in a hamlet, which offers panoramic views from the 365m� garden. But if you wanted a ruin, we have properties for as little as €12,500 (�11,720).

What’s the most unusual property you have sold in the past? It has to be an old stone farmhouse I sold a couple of years ago. Some 17 years previously, the vendors had cancelled their contract with the electricity board, and had since been living in almost medieval conditions. They had a wood fire, which even though it was well ventilated thanks to the absence of a front door(!), had still turned the contents of the house black with smoke.

What’s the most unusual request you’ve had from a client? One of our clients asked us to remove an urn filled with what looked suspiciously like ashes from the mantelpiece of the house they had just bought. When we asked the newly departed vendor what was in the urn, he replied that he hadn’t had the heart to remove his father from the family home!

How much would you expect to pay for: � a detached property with land in good condition? As an example we have a farmhouse with one and a half hectares of land, several outbuildings and a lake, for €191,000 (�179,081). � a three-bedroom town house? We have a super 1950s village house on our books at the moment for €160,000 (�150,016). � a renovation opportunity? You can pick up properties from as little as €12,500 (�11,720), although my favourite at the moment is an eighteenth-century maison de ma�tre at €255,000 (�239,088) which was last occupied in the 1970s. There’s quite a bit to do, but it has enormous potential.

Is there a typical architecture or style in Dordogne? Stone-built houses are the most prominent, be it the yellow’ limestone or darker schist with terracotta roof tiles. Properties tend to have a steep high roof with curved Roman tiles. Why do British people buy houses there? The countryside is stunning and unspoilt, the food globally renowned, the people so wonderful, it’s easy to get to and has an infrastructure when you live here. There’s also a strong tourist industry if you’re hoping to start a business.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of buying in your area? Don’t think too much and just do it. What tips would you give to help people settle into life in the area? Prioritise! Put the satellite dish installation to the bottom of the list and pick up some language skills instead. Communicating in French is important if you intend to make your home here.

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What are your predictions for the property market in your region? On the one hand the current exchange rate obviously makes it more difficult for the British buyer. On the other hand there’s some really good property on the market at realistic prices, so now is actually a good time to buy.

Is your department easy to reach? Absolutely – we have good train routes, excellent roads, and a choice of airports running low-cost flights to Limoges and Bergerac. In 2010 nearby Brive will also be serviced by low-cost airlines. What are the regional specialities? Where to start?We have confit de canard, truffles (not the chocolate variety), foie gras, cep mushrooms and a good bottle or two of P�charment! Dining is very important here and there are still lots of repas champ�tre; long tables with benches are set up and for a very reasonable sum anyone can join in.

What local attractions are there in Dordogne? Brant�me, otherwise known as the Venice of the P�rigord, is a popular destination. It’s a beautiful town, which remains a top favourite with me even though I have taken every one of my house guests there over the past 15 years! Otherwise our offices are in St-Jean-de-C�le, which is listed as one of France’s Plus Beaux Villages, and is particularly stunning in May when the flower festival is held.

Describe your region in five words Rural, architectural, friendly, sunny, gastronomic.

What’s your favourite corner of Dordogne? Chez moi bien s�r!