Frederika Bosman of Auvergne Properties shares her view of the property market in this dramatic, lesser-known French region
What part of France do you cover?
Auvergne, a lovely rural region in the middle of France with a very varied landscape including mountains, rolling hills, rivers and lakes – perfect for nature lovers.
What kind of budget does your typical British client have?
This depends on whether it’s a holiday home or a permanent relocation. For a holiday home the budget is typically €100,000 to €150,000 and for a relocation or a touristic project it can be up to €350,000 or €400,000.
What kinds of properties are proving popular with your British buyers?
The traditional stone properties with outbuildings, set on a large plot of land with open views. In general, clients are looking for a countryside location offering peace and quiet and not too many direct neighbours.
How is the French property market looking to you at the moment?
The beginning of 2014 was a somewhat difficult period as the economic and political situation in France was having a negative effect on the market, particularly for French customers. However, the situation has improved over the last few months – there is now quite a bit of movement in the market and prices seem to have stabilised.
What are your predictions for the market over the next six months?
I expect the improvement to continue with prices starting to climb again by early 2015. As such, now would be a good time to buy property in this area.
What are the cheapest and most expensive properties that you have on your books at the moment?
The cheapest is a charming stone cottage located in the village of Ferrières-sur-Sichon and priced at €77,000. The property is in good condition with a lovely garden and would make an ideal holiday home.
The most expensive, at €1.5m is a stunning 18th-century château built by the architect Gabriel Douet. It is set in a beautiful park of six hectares with a gatehouse and swimming pool. The grounds are constructible and could be used for a residential or recreational development project.
What would be your dream property pick?
A stunning stone property with separate wooden chalet, located on grounds of approximately 11 hectares (nearly 28 acres) with a lake of around 6,000m2, all for €349,000. When arriving here clients have actually referred to it as a ‘little paradise.’
Do you have an inside secret about your area that people might not know?
Auvergne is still relatively undiscovered and, nature-wise, it’s extremely varied. The majestic Puy de Dôme is a dormant volcano after which one of Auvergne’s departments is named, and from its summit there are breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanic park. The Sancy mountain range is also a walker’s dream with its many rivers and lakes – and it even has two ski stations. Elegant spa towns such as Vichy, founded by Napoleon III, have beautiful architecture as well as many cultural activities, and there are some wine-producing regions, such as that around St-Pourçain-sur-Sioule.
What would be your top piece of advice for a French property buyer?
As always when buying property, location is one of the most important criteria as it cannot be changed. Take the time to explore the area to make sure it’s right for you before deciding on the property itself. If you’re looking into buying a property for a hospitality project, check that what you want to do is feasible in terms of permissions before proceeding, and also be sure to keep a part of the property separate as your own private space, so you can withdraw from your guests at times.