Wednesday, July 4, 2012

French Property Buying in 2012

French property prices did rise in 2010 and 2011, and this fact, on the background of the Eurozone’s economic developments, spurred comments that French homes are strongly overvalued. Other opinions are that the properties offered in the world’s most popular travel destination are definitely worth the investment, and a very good long-term opportunity for someone, who appreciates fine food, rich culture and a sophisticated lifestyle.

What do other buyers think about purchasing a French home now, in 2012?

According to a recent survey, 48% of participants claimed that they believe now is a very suitable moment to invest in French property. Moreover, nearly 85% said that they are planning to do so, without taking out a mortgage. The same proportion of people are confident that the country still ranks very high on the real estate market, as it ensures excellent value for money spent. Taking into consideration these outcomes, it is not surprising that nearly half of the people answered that they are planning to purchase a French home with the purpose of permanently settling there, and another 40% - with the intention of making it their second residence (holiday home). Only a small percentage said that they were researching French property options for investment reasons.

What are the most popular regions for buying a French home in 2012?

As you might guess, there are trends in French property buying, too, and certain regions are more popular than others – mainly because of the fact that they offer a good balance between pricing, quality of properties offered, weather conditions, lifestyle, etc. So, what are the regions that should be on top of your list, too. Languedoc-Roussillon is the preferred location of about 15% of surveyed French property buyers; next on the list comes Limousin, followed by Aquitaine, Brittany, and Poitou Charente. Despite the fact that most people sigh at the thought of Paris, the city of romance and fine wine does not make it in the list of most popular destinations when it comes to living there. Its busy lifestyle and real estate prices only resonate with about 0.8% of buyers.

Who is buying French property in 2012?

Although UK citizens still represent the larger portion of French property buyers in 2012, their interest has decreased for certain regions. On the other hand, US and Australian real estate buyers have demonstrated a rising interest in the possibility of owning a French home.

What sort of French real estate is everyone after?

Finally, if you are still unsure what kind of home will best suit your needs in France, it might be helpful to know that most people (nearly 90%) prefer to purchase a house rather than an apartment or a chalet. We don’t mean to surprise you at all buy saying that older houses, which don’t need much refurbishing are definitely winning the buyer’s preferences, compared to renovation projects, new developments, or plots of land. A final point is that although most French property buyers are not concerned about the Eurozone’s current instability, they intend to spend a good 12 months in choosing the French home that is right for them!

French Homes - 3 Romantic Reasons to Consider Buying One

It's not a secret that the French capital, Paris is the world's favourite travel destination. It receives more than 70,000 visitors each year, enchanting them with its glitter and sophistication. Many of these tourists decide to purchase an apartment in Paris and this decision is not surprising at all - the country attracts foreign families with its wonderful mix of weather conditions, beautiful countryside, centuries-old culture, outstanding health care and more than acceptable pricing of the properties it has on offer. Here we present you with five random facts that further unveil the charms of the French homes - in case you are looking for something more unusual than the regular 'Guide to Buying a Property in France'.

 A Sense of Elegance and Sophistication

beautiful french home with large windows
With their famed mansard rooflines and majestic entrances, French homes make us think of French chateaus. This always provides a sense of sophistication, dreaminess, and elegance. And who hasn't imagined what it is like living in a castle? Another distinctive feature of French homes are exterior French doors - large glass doors that allow for having a closer connection with nature. Since most French houses are situated on large pieces of green land, the very typical French doors allow for a unique lifestyle that makes you feel at one with the surrounding environment, while also being protected by the outside weather conditions.

Become Part of French History - And Get Paid for That

historical French property for saleDid you know that buying a centuries-old mansion in the French countryside can open up more opportunities than you might have ever imagined! Except for having the chance to get hold of a dream house, restoring the splendor and magnificence of a mini-castle, you can be part of a historical event and get paid for that. There are specialized foundations that can help you finance the restoration of qualified French houses and buildings. There are certain conditions and requirements that you have to meet, but you stand a very good chance of ending up with significant tax breaks and cash for doing something that you would have done anyway.

Live Lighter!

Did you know that French homes have no closets? As we already mentioned, most of them are historical houses, filled by charm and tradition. The lack of closets surely makes it harder for you to store numberless pairs of jeans, suits, and shirts! This does make you raise the question - do I really need all these possessions? The lack of closets in French homes will definitely make you get rid of some old clothes that you have been keeping out of sentimentality.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

France - The World's Most Popular Destination

When thinking about the world's most popular tourist destination, would you plum for the USA? Or perhaps Spain or Mexico? You may be surprised to learn that for the last 20 years, the most visited country in the world by tourists from all four corners of the globe is indeed France, and for many good reasons. 

It takes more than sun and surf to sustain a country as a world leader in tourism. It needs a place that has everything, from great beach holidays with fantastic weather, to world class skiing and stunning inland holidays, with lake districts and a countryside, loved and envied throughout the world. Not to mention some of the most renowned cities, full of history, culture and art, all of which are wrapped around unbeatable food and wine as a way of life. 

It is such a vast array of choice that France has to offer, that the first thought for a property buyer must be in which location to look for their new home. As you might expect prices do vary quite a lot, but it really is possible to find a great value for your money in France. 

In the north, you will find the flatlands circled round the beautiful town of Lille and the English Channel. This part of France has still retained some of the feel of its neighboring countries Belgium and Holland. The quaint atmosphere is ideal for people who enjoy a wonderfully simple pace of life, coupled with beautiful surroundings, culture and great architecture. It is still possible to find a two bed apartment from €114,000 and a four bed from €170.000 or even lower. Having said that, property prices vary according to type and can go for much higher. 

The western part of France looks onto the passionate and rugged Atlantic coast line and as such is renowned for wonderful beaches and quaint fishing towns. In Brittanyyou will find many of these towns strewn along the coast as well as the renowned historic town of Lorient, which prides itself on its fishing port, 

beach and yearly Celtic music festival. There is also, St Malo, with its famous walled-in town, not to forget the regions capital Rennes with its wonderful Saturday market. 

Like most of France (outside of Paris), it is possible to snap up old run down country farm houses and hamlets for as little as €11,500 in the west. This is a real possibility for anyone with building skills or someone looking for a project where they could source local tradesmen to bring a property back to life. However, as fairytale as this can seem, if this suits your interests, it would be wise to do a full inventory of planning permissions that would need to be done in order to bring the property up to living standards and the cost and time involved. Also, if you would need the help of local builders, make sure that you find a firm that is widely respected within the community, and get firm quotes before you hire anyone. 

If building is not your stock in trade then you can expect to find two bed country properties for as little as €45,500 upwards. For just €85,500 you can find a detached stone and slate three bed property with a large garden.

If you are looking for a country property at a great price then this is an area to consider. For €125,000 a buyer can find really spectacular properties that would cost four or five times that in the UK. 
A good choice for retirees who have equity in their property and could swap for a country house in western France, freeing up funds for living well in retirement. To the east we have the regions of BurgundyFranche ComteLorraine and Alsace, home to the European center city of Strasbourg. 

Many other beautiful cities worth mentioning here are the three thousand year old city of Metz with its incredible Saint-Stephen cathedral. The cities of Nancy and Dijon, the capital of the Burgundy region famed for its large number of churches and cathedral’s and its Gothic and Renaissance architecture.

Dijon also holds its international and gastronomic fair every year. This is a major event for food lovers with more than five hundred exhibitors and two hundred thousand visitors every year. Surely a real draw for any food lover thinking of living in France and with all this wonderful food, its no surprise to learn that this is also a part of France well loved for its wine, including delicious Pinot Noirs and full bodied Chardonnays. 

The east of France is set around rolling hills and incredible natural habitat and its good to know that there are also fantastic properties to be found here for very good prices. Renovations and rebuilds from €11,500 upwards and very fine smaller properties, ready to live-in from as little as €85,500. Three and four bedroom detached country properties can be found for as little as €114,000. Prices in the cities vary depending on street location, but again for those who are looking for city life, apartments can be found for competitive prices. This is an area full of natural beauty and well worth a look for anyone wishing to invest in a slice of France. 

The same can be said for the centre of France and this area is considered by many to be a hidden gem. Attracting less visitors, the centre is generally quieter than the coastal areas, but never the less is full of world class landscape, mythical castles and idyllic towns. The city of Tours rates as one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Property in the centre can be sourced for great prices and is another real option for those looking for French homes without the fanfare. 

If great weather and beaches is what you are after, then we go south, Alpes-Cote d’Azur offers two bed apartments from €114,000 depending on where you are looking. Worth a mention is the stunning Antibes with its forty eight beaches along 25km of coastline, but expect to pay a premium for ‘sun tax’ to live in such a stunning part of the world. Having said that, bargains can be found in such a large region. The province is full of pleasant villages, good food and history dating back to Roman times. With its wild romantic feel, its rich history, wonderful climate and beaches, it is no surprise that when the French seek sun, sand and surf this is where they holiday. 

Alternatively, if skiing is your passion, then buying a ski chalet could be a great investment. France offers world class skiing in the Alps and like all French real estate, fantastic rental returns for investors. With other surrounding ski countries such as Austria having heavy restrictions on the purchase of ski homes, France is still the number one choice with investors and for great prices there is a abundance of slope side properties just waiting for renovation. 

The city of Paris as you may expect has property at a premium. Having said that, there truly is no other city in the world that can match Paris for food, art, history and sheer beauty and although a small studio could set you back €180,000, this is still a sound investment as central Paris is and always will be on the up and up. Again, ‘buying to let’ could stand to make a very good income, as holiday makers travel from around the world to visit this city. 

With so many property types and amazing locations to choose from in France, it really is not surprising why France is indeed the world's number one tourist destination. 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

If You Love To Ski The Slopes Of Europe - The French Alps Are Calling

If you love to ski the slopes of Europe, and wish to own a holiday property there, look no further than the French Alps!

The past ten years has shown an increased popularity in the French Alpine region, and more significantly, from 2009 to 2011, ski properties accounted for 9% of holiday homes purchased. The report claims that due to continued rental demand from tourism, prices for apartments and chalets have maintained, despite the financial downturn.

Alpine resorts have marketed a summer tourism trade that has helped property owner’s realize rental returns in both summer and winter months, making this a more attractive proposition. For potential buyers, this could be the perfect marriage between lifestyle and sustainable yields with consistent rental demands from tourism.

Ski Resort Report from The Post Office, shows that French resorts are the more reasonable option when it comes to hiring ski equipment, ski lessons and lift passes over a 5 or 6 day holiday, compared to other popular ski destinations such as Switzerland, Canada and the USA. For example, in France you would be expected to pay £436.80 as opposed to Switzerland where you would pay £571.54 in ski costs.

Here are some places to look for your French property investment:


To the north, Haute-Savoie borders the Swiss Canton of Geneva and Lake Geneva; to the east, Haute-Savoie borders the Swiss Canton of Valais and Italy's Aosta Valley; on the west lays the French department of Ain and to the south the department of Savoie. Haute-Savoie has the largest range of elevations of all the departments in France, the lowest point being 250 metres (820 ft) in the Rhone River Valley, and the highest Mont Blanc at 4,810.40 metres (15,782.2 ft). Some of the world's most well-known ski resorts are located in Haute-Savoie.

La Clusaz 

The commune of La Clusaz is part of the Haute-Savoie department and is located 32 km to the east of Annecy, in the Aravis Valley. An old village, La Clusaz has been hosting winter sports since 1907. It is the birthplace of famous French skier Vincent Vittoz . Based in the Aravis mountain range La Clusaz (originally from the word cluse, which means a narrow path between two mountains) was once called Clusa Locus Dei meaning God's narrow place. In 1902, the opening of the road connecting Annecy and the valley of Thones with the Aravis Valley, has allowed La Clusaz (formerly a small and remote village) to become a tourist centre for summer and winter sports. The Candide Invitational is an annual ski contest and demonstration hosted on La Balme Mountain, La Clusaz. Shopping in La Clusaz is much like other small alpine villages, and is centred around local shops specialising in either local delicacies such as cheese, meats and wines, or ski shops.


Thollon-les-Memises is another commune in the Haute-Savoie department and is a Year-round destination resort in a lovely position overlooking Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). Close to the town of Evian and within easy access of Italy, Switzerland and other major ski resorts, this is the only skiing area from which you can see the whole of Lake Geneva. It has its own ski resort with direct access to 50 km of downhill skiing, with 14 individual pistes, served by 18 ski lifts.


Savoie was long part of the states of Savoy, though it was occupied many times by France starting in the 16th century. It was integrated into the Mont-Blanc department from 1792 to 1815 (and partially into the Leman department from 1798 to 1814). The province was annexed by France in 1860. The former Duchy of Savoy became the two departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie. Savoie is part of the Rhône-Alpes region. It borders the departments of Haute-Savoie, Ain, Isere and Hautes-Alpes in addition to Italy. Much of Savoie is covered by mountains and, along with Albertville, hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics, with ski events at Tarentaise and Beaufortain


Situated near the massive peaks of the Aiguilles Rouges, Chamonix shares the summit of Mont Blanc with its neighbouring commune of Courmayeur in Italy, and owns the title of highest commune in France. The commune is well known and loved by skiers and by mountain enthusiasts of all types. Mont Blanc, at a height of 4,810 metres, is the third most visited natural site in the world. With an area of 245 square kilometres, Chamonix is the fourth largest commune in mainland France.


The original village of Tignes was in the Isere valley below Val d’Isere. After the Second World War, France needed electricity and it was decided to build a hydro-electric dam in the Isere valley. Whilst this was a great achievement for French engineering and was for the greater good of France, it meant that the old village of Tignes was submerged. The dam was completed and the village was submerged in 1952. A replica of the original church was created in Tignes les Boisses. Once every 10 years the lake behind the dam (Lac du Chevril) is drained for maintenance work and the remains of the old village becomes visible. Tignes comprises 5 Villages; Val Claret, Tignes le Lac, Le Lavachet, Tignes Les Boisses and Tignes-les-Brevieres. The first three are close together at 2100m and Les Boisses and Les Brevieres are further down the valley, above and below the dam respectively. Les Brevieres is an old village whereas all the others were created as part of the Dam construction or development of the ski resort. All the villages are part of the ski resort known as Tignes. Within the Tarentaise Valley is the biggest concentration of world-class ski resorts in the world. Most well known neighbour systems are Paradiski (Les Arcs La Plagne) and Les Trois Vallees (Courchevel, Meribel, Val Thorens and more). There were once plans to interlink all systems and resorts to create the largest ski area in the world. However that vision was ended with the creation of the Vanoise National Park.

For buyers considering purchasing property in France, here are the main things to consider:

1. When dealing with a seller make sure that if you do not speak good French you get help with translation.
2. Although there are laws offering solid protection to buyers, if you have any doubts then seek advice from a local solicitor.
3. Do not sign anything until you are in front of the notaire to process the sale.
4. Appoint your own notaire rather than sharing one with the vender. This way yours may look out for you in the sale.
5. Ensure that you know what you are buying and the exact condition of the property you are purchasing.
6. If you are relocating internationally, it is worth looking for a French mortgage over a mortgage from your own country as they may offer more competitive rates.
7. Once you have found a mortgage broker, make sure that written into your mortgage are conditional clauses that take into account any planning associated with your property.
8. If the seller owns other land that adjoins the land/property you are buying, ensure there is a clause in the contract that gives you first option to buy should they decide to sell in the future.
9. Even though the vendor may ask for a 10% deposit, this is not obligatory and a lesser amount could be agreed.
10. Make sure that you get your own survey.

France is the world's most popular holiday destination, rental potential tends to be very good when considering French property.

United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
The top ten international tourist arrivals destinations in 2009 were:

1 France 74.2 million
2 United States 54.9 million
3 Spain 52.2 million
4 China 50.9 million
5 Italy 43.2 million
6 United Kingdom 28.0 million
7 Turkey 25.5 million
8 Germany 24.2 million
9 Malaysia 23.6 million
10 Mexico 21.5 million