Can’t find a French property within budget that ticks all the boxes? If you rewrite your wishlist and find an agency you trust, you’re more likely to get a good deal, says Rob Longley
Forget for a moment what you would like from a French property and consider what you really need. There are great property bargains to be had by drawing different circles on the map. You may have your heart set on a particular holiday destination or department, for example, but how well do you know the places – and average property prices – in the areas just next door?
Distance to an airport is a big one for many people. But how often do you go to an airport? Does it really matter if it is a 90-minute drive that you do only occasionally? The plane is going to be delayed anyway! Widen your search area and watch the prices drop and the number of properties grow.
You might be fixed on a maximum distance to a particular town or city, to a ski resort or the beach. It’s quite usual to set a limit for these factors. However, by stretching the time or distance, you can pick up a property bargain.
Some people have to be close to urban centres for work or health reasons: these factors create a demand and upward pressure on property prices. There is also a premium on properties with land that are within a short stroll of the beach or a pretty village with shops and amenities. Of course, you could save money and bake your own bread (and patisseries), in which case you can live anywhere. A decent compromise is to cycle or to just accept that most of us in the rural parts of France use cars, except to go to the bar. Then we use taxis!
If you are very near to a new hospital, your local taxes might be higher. You might have to be close to a hospital for health reasons, but if not, look further afield and know that your local health centre will provide an admirable service wherever you are.
Local knowledge is key, so try to find an agent you trust and sign up to get the inside information. Everyone wants a deal, but beware media reports of prices being slashed and vendors being desperate for your money. Every seller has a unique story to tell and that means the negotiation margin will be individual for each property too. If price is your greatest or only driver, make sure your agent is used to dealing with such a commercial approach. You might get a bit off the one you want, or a lot off the one you don’t! Half price might still be overpriced. Asking price might be great value. Be guided by the people who know the vendor and their situation.
Rob Longley is CEO at Beaux Villages Immobilier
Tel: 0800 270 0101 (UK)
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