Are you paying the right price for your French property?

Are you paying the right price for your French property?

Working out how much the property you want to buy in France is worth can be difficult as there are many different factors that could affect the price. Peter-Danton de Rouffignac shares 8 tips on working out if the French property you want to buy is worth its asking price

1 Location

There are many factors which will affect the value of a property in terms of its location. Things to consider include:

• City centre, village or countryside location

• Proximity to other properties or estates

• Proximity to local shops and services

• Proximity to undesirables such as a busy main road, factory or trading estate

• Noise issues (nearby school, bar etc)

• Ease of access to travel connections

• If renovating, ease of access to services such as mains water, gas, electricity and telephone. For tips on renovating visit our renovation section

• Walking distance to public transport and local services


2 Aspect

You may have found the perfect house on paper but what about its position? Always bear in mind the following:

• Desirable views aren’t free

• Bedrooms should face north/east as facing south/west may result in them heating up during the day and becoming uncomfortable at night

• Main living areas should face south/west. East-facing rooms often get no sun after midday resulting in higher heating bills

• Is the property overlooking or overlooked by neighbouring houses?


3 Layout

French estate agents often don’t include any floor-plans in their particulars, so while you are viewing a property, take care to note these following points:

• The layout of the principal rooms, including any doors, radiators and windows

• The ‘flow’ of the property, from the public areas (living room, kitchen) to the more private areas (bedrooms, bathrooms)

• Wasted space taken up by corridors, landings and fitted furnishings


4 Potential

Adding value to property is one consideration many people get excited about but it can be difficult to tell whether a property truly has potential for this. To help you decide, here are some questions you should ask:

• Is there physically room for expansion?

• Is this permissible under local regulations, or does the property already occupy the maximum area allowed on the plot?

• Is the garden too big or too small?

• Could you install a swimming pool, conservatory or granny flat?

• Could the property be divided in the future, say into two apartments?


5 Current and future risks

Always get in touch with the local mairie to find out about plans which may affect your lifestyle in the property:

• Are there plans for major developments nearby such as expansion of roads or railways?

• Has planning been granted for the building of a nearby house, public building or even a large estate?

• Is the property in a flood zone, or at risk of avalanche or other disaster? If so, is there an evacuation plan for the area?


6 Charges, taxes and upkeep

Paying for your home sadly doesn’t stop as soon as you have moved in. Financial considerations include:

• Are local property taxes high, and are they likely to increase?

• Will the property be expensive to maintain due to its age?

• Is the house compliant with the latest BBC energy efficiency guidelines?

• What are the likely costs of upgrading or renovating the property in addition to any routine maintenance?


7 Property type

Property prices are also affected by the following factors:

• Being detached or semi-detached, end of terrace or having neighbours on either side

• Shared access or inconvenient rights of way

• Available parking in garage or on driveway

• Is it a copropriété (shared ownership)? Costs can include annual management charges, services such as swimming pools, concierge and tennis courts, and regulations in place by the syndic could prevent you making any changes to the property.


8 How these factors affect the price

Based on these criteria, and doubtless there will be others, you can start to create your own personal wishlist. One possible way to do this is to divide your list into, say, three sections, headed ‘Essential’ (such as your maximum budget), ‘Desirable’ (you are prepared to make concessions) and ‘No way’ (such as never higher than third floor if there is no lift).

Having compiled your list, the tricky bit is to assign a value to the different factors, while remaining firm on your essentials. Elise Franck, who is a highly knowledgeable and experienced buyer and seller of properties, has an approach worth noting. Elise admits that she constantly researches market prices of property for sale either privately, through agents or at auctions in her areas of choice, which are usually close to city centres.

She compares prices being asked for similar properties, and then assigns a rating of 1-3% for different factors. For example, if a property includes exposed brick or beams, she adds 1% to the price per square metre. If an apartment is particularly light and airy she mentally adds 2%, and for beautiful views she adds a further 3%. She also rates as positive factors the presence of a concierge, a terrace or balcony, a higher floor and above-average ceiling height.

If the building is in poor condition, she subtracts 3%, and apartments on the ground floor similarly earn a further 3% reduction as they are often disliked because of street noise, lack of light and concerns about security.

When selling one of her refurbished properties, which Elise does occasionally to raise capital for another investment, she says she can rapidly gauge whether she has got her price more or less right by the response of potential buyers to her advertising. So whether you are using an estate agent to buy or sell a property, or going it alone, the more you are involved in the process and following your own guidelines, the more likely you are to reach a result you are satisfied with.



Peter-Danton de Rouffignac is based near Perpignan and advises on all aspects of buying and selling French property


For more information on buying property in France read our Buying Guides, which cover a variety of subjects, from structural surveys to mortgages and currency contracts

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