Interview: Property search agent in Provence

Interview: Property search agent in Provence

Betty Bloom of SPA Properties shares her view of the current property market in her sunny south-east corner of France

What part of France do you cover?
I cover a large part of Provence from Avignon to the Italian border – Vaucluse, Var and Alpes-Maritimes. This includes the coastal towns of Antibes, Cannes and Nice, and the seaside resorts: Villefranche-sur-Mer, St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Menton to the east, and Ste-Maxime and St-Tropez to the west. Another important sector comprises inland towns and villages such as Valbonne, Grasse, Vence and Fayence.

What is your role as search agent?
On receiving an enquiry from a potential client, I contact the carefully selected agents with whom I collaborate in the designated area for a selection of properties corresponding to the clients’ specifications: location, size, number of bedrooms and budget. If I am unable to locate the right property, I widen the search by looking at agency websites. I forward translated property details to the client, arrange viewing appointments and generally guide the client through the buying procedure wherever needed. I am also on hand to help beyond this point, after a sale has been secured.

What kind of properties are proving popular with your British buyers?

My buyers are generally looking for three- to four-bedroom properties for their own permanent use, as a holiday home or for investment or letting purposes.

How is the French property market looking at the moment and what are your predictions for the next six months?

Although the market in Provence is quieter than before the recession, it is still generating a reasonable number of sales. The Côte d’Azur was less affected by the slow-down and properties that are correctly priced are moving well. In general, French property owners have become more ready to negotiate.

What are the cheapest and most expensive properties on your books now?

The cheapest properties on my books at present are two-bedroom apartments for under €300,000. The most expensive are luxury villas with six or more bedrooms, beautiful gardens, large swimming pools and a separate house for guests or staff, priced at around €20m.

What is your property pick of the month?

A charming stone-built mas in Valbonne with two convertible chalets (one of which is immediately habitable), on the market for €548,000. This is a rare find in this sought-after town, close to shops, restaurants, schools and amenities. It has landscaped grounds of 1,245m² with a swimming pool and pool house (or artist’s studio), a double garage and a fish pond. The single-level mas faces east, south and west, comprising a living room of 40m² with a fireplace, a separate fitted kitchen of 9.5m², a dining room of 15m² with a veranda, two double bedrooms, one bathroom, one shower room and two toilets. Special features include remote-controlled gates with video phone, a burglar alarm and mains drainage. It would also be possible to extend the property which gives it enormous potential.

What is your favourite part of the area you cover, and why?

One of my favourite areas is Antibes and Juan-les-Pins as it combines the best of all worlds: the sea and beautiful sandy beaches, boutiques, restaurants, an old town, a superb market and a lively harbour. Another asset is its reasonably priced and frequent bus and rail connection to all parts of the Côte d’Azur and the wider Alpes-Maritimes, as well as further afield to Italy.

What would you recommend as a must see and must do?

There are so many beautiful places to visit off the beaten track: the hilltop villages of Var such as Tourrettes-sur-Loup and Fayence are a must, but so are the many museums and art galleries.

Do you have an inside secret that people might not know?

It is easier and cheaper to get around the Côte d’Azur by bus – single journeys cost just €1, irrespective of how far you go.

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