Ask the agent: Benjamin Haas

Every month we ask an estate agent for the inside track on their patch. In this issue, we talk to Benjamin Haas of Burgundy 4U, an estate agency covering Burgundy...

What’s the cheapest property you have on your books right now? If you’re looking for less costly properties, the first thing I would say is reserve an amount for carrying out basic work. As an example, one of the cheapest properties we have on our books at the moment is a lovely clogmaker’s house priced at €25,000 (�22,019), which needs a bathroom putting in.What’s the most unusual property you have on your books now? We have a twelfth-century ch�teau for €2,650,000 (�2,333,979). The owner is a Dutch artist and what really makes this place exceptional is that he has painted frescoes all over the house. When we went to value the property, the owner said that whoever buys it will have a bargain, as the price per square metre of the ch�teau is only a fraction of the price his paintings cost per square metre!What’s the most unusual request you’ve had from a client? One of our clients asked to buy a property unseen – the first time they saw it was on their next holiday to France. I am happy to say that they still love the property several years on.How much would you expect to pay for: � a detached property with land in good condition? Between approximately €120,000 (�105,690) and €150,000 (�132,112). � a three-bedroom town house? I’d say budget for around €150,000 (�132,112). � a renovation opportunity? With land expect to pay around the €50,000 (�44,037) mark.Is there a typical architecture or style in Burgundy? The most common style is what we call a wine worker’s house, which is a stone house with a cellar for the wine, and all the living space on the main floor. They tend to have large attics, with Burgundy stone floors throughout and flat, ceramic, coloured tiles on the roof.Why do British people buy houses in Burgundy? Burgundy is well developed and has properties at very attractive prices – it’s also very centrally located in western Europe.What advice would you give to somebody who is thinking of buying in your area? Research is key, so first and foremost make sure that you define a location that fits your needs. Do your homework and take a good look at the prices, and finally, use a recognised and wellestablished local estate agent to guide you.What tips would you give to help people settle into life in the area? Nothing is more helpful than being able to speak French. Even if you only have the basics, make an effort to contact your neighbours from day one as they will be the best people to help you settle in.What are your predictions for the property market in Burgundy with regards to overseas buyers? The market has righted itself over the past 2 years, with prices becoming more stable – now is the time to buy if you’re looking for a bargain.Is your region easy to reach? From London it takes about 8 hours with the Eurotunnel then the car, or 5 hours if you take the TGV. Alternatively you can fly into Lyon or Paris and then drive to Burgundy, which takes around 2 hours.What are the regional specialities? Burgundy has a rich and well-known culinary tradition, with several Michelin star restaurants. We also do fantastic traditional food if your budget is rather more restricted! Well-known delights from our region include boeuf bourguignon, escargots, poulet de Bresse, and �poisses cheese. Burgundy is also known for its wine – you can buy fantastic vintages straight from the viticulteurs.What local attractions are there in your region? We have great fresh produce markets, and I’d also recommend a visit to Dijon to see the city and the castle. Morvan regional park has beautiful lakes and forests, and any number of the vineyards are interesting to look around. Describe your region in five words Encompasses nature, history and culture.What’s your favourite corner of the region? It’s difficult to choose when the region of Burgundy is as large as the country of Belgium! Having said that, my perfect weekend would be a Saturday morning spent strolling through the flowers and cheeses of Beaune market enjoying a glass of Givry chardonnay, followed by a Sunday hacking with my horse and dog in the rolling countryside.