Karen Tait offers some top tips to help you get the most out of French property exhibitions, and allow you to use both your head and your heart when househunting
With the Olympia exhibition in London coming up this month, we thought it would be timely to offer a few words of advice on what to expect from French property exhibitions and how to ensure you come away from them armed with the knowledge you need.
The exhibitions are an excellent place to seek advice on the buying process in France, the different locations, and the legal and financial issues to consider. It’s best to do some research in advance, however. The following tips are a good place to start.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
The chances are you’ll already have a good idea of where you want to buy in France before you attend the exhibition – although people do come with no idea of area.
It makes sense to narrow down your choice of location beforehand though, as France is a huge country with vastly differing geography, cultures, climate and amenities. That said, being open to new choices is no bad thing either. One of our most popular seminars at the exhibitions covers where in France to buy, and it’s quite surprising how many people come away from it saying they had been set on a particular area but had changed their mind.
It helps to make a list of what you’re looking for in terms of landscape, weather, and the kind of activities and facilities you want, as then the agents you speak with will be better placed to advise you.
HOME FROM HOME
In the same way, it is also helpful when talking to agents if you have a good idea of the kind of property you’re looking for too. It’s all too easy to become swayed when looking at all the stunning properties on offer and to forget about the things you actually need!
It’s not uncommon for people to fall in love with a property in France – to experience the famous coup de coeur – and end up buying something completely different to what they’d envisaged.
This can be a good thing. It can also mean you end up with a property that’s totally unsuited to your lifestyle; for instance, buying a romantic ruin that then ends up taking up all your time meaning you don’t enjoy the things that attracted you to France in the first place!
I’m a great fan of lists, and writing down your must¬haves and would¬likes, for both location and property, can really help you in your search for the perfect place.
THE BUYING PROCESS
The exhibitions are the ideal place to find out all about how the buying process differs from in the UK, and to glean advice on your own particular situation.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to get really valuable advice by not having a basic understanding of the buying process though. It doesn’t need to take long – if you’re a regular reader of FPN you should hopefully already have a good idea.
Once you understand how the system works you can get your pen and paper out again and write a list of specific questions you’d like answers to.
BACK TO SCHOOL
Remember those school lessons where you daydreamed out of the window? Well the exhibition seminars won’t be like that, in fact you won’t want to miss a word. Covering topics such as tax or the legal system, they’ve become a firm favourite with visitors to the exhibitions. They’re free to attend so make sure you get your tickets in plenty of time.
THE NEXT STEP
Not everyone who visits the exhibitions is at the househunting stage. Some are just putting a toe in the water, while others already have a property and want legal or financial advice. However, those who are ready to head off to France can start arranging viewing trips with the agents.
Indeed, after the last exhibition in Wetherby, one of the visitors signed the sales contract for a property just the following week, having arranged to meet the agent in France to view some of the properties displayed on her stand.
Bear in mind that the properties you see at the exhibition may not be available when you visit France, depending on how fast¬moving the market is at that time.
One final word of advice – make sure you give yourself plenty of time, both for visiting the exhibition and for visiting properties in France. A small distance on the map can translate to a considerably longer journey than expected. Happy househunting!
The next French Property Exhibition takes place from 19-21 September 2014 at Olympia, London