Ten years ago cheap French property brought a lot of people to the country. New air routes were opening up and with the associated cheap flights it became much easier to get here. As a result, prices increased more or less everywhere and finding cheap property in France isn’t as easy as it was. They are still out there though, and I have an extra little tip that the French use that could save you eight or nine per cent of the price if you buy your French house from the right place!
The price of the property you are looking for will, of course, depend a great deal on location. A flat in Paris or Cannes is never going to be cheap. On the other hand a French farmhouse in need of renovation at the eastern end of the Loire valley can still be had remarkably cheaply. The cost of renovation is another matter and will depend to a large extent on whether you want to get your hands dirty or if you have the necessary skills.
Whether you think something qualifies as cheap French property will also depend on your budget and the kind of house you are looking for. The French tend to prefer to buy new so renovation properties remain affordable. On the other hand coastal properties, like in most other countries, command a premium. If you’re not concerned about fast international travel then you will find prices cheaper away from the airports and main cities. The center of France (a big rural area of farms and forests) is least expensive, with properties in the “Indre” region probably the cheapest of all.
But what about that saving I mentioned? Getting your dream home for six, seven, eight or even nine per cent less may not be exactly cheap French property but it’s nice not to have to pay it!
The trick is to avoid the real estate agents (called “immobiliers”) and look for the “notaires”. Notaires are the people who do the conveyancing. You need one to handle your French property purchase by law. It’s not something you can avoid but you shouldn’t be at all concerned about it. Charges are fixed by the French government and notaires are highly qualified. The interesting thing a lot of people don’t know is that notaires can also offer houses for sale.
What difference will that make? Well a French real estate agent will charge you somewhere between five and ten per cent on top of the asking price of the property. In France, the buyer pays that fee so it’s common practice – and sensible – to allow ten per cent on top of the advertised price to cover all eventualities. On the other hand your notaire normally wants much less – they make their money on the paperwork so they don’t need to make it on the actual house sale!
It’s true that perhaps you don’t get the same level of help from a notaire that you might from a good agent. Not all agents are good though! If your command of French is reasonable (most won’t speak much English) then you could save yourself thousands!
Although the rules may differ slightly the housing market in France is like any other. Cheap French property is still out there if you know where to look and are prepared to compromise. Take your time, learn some French and have a good look in the notaire’s wndow!
More about French property and all things French at Frenchlife4real.com. If you can’t find what you’re looking for just ask – it won’t cost you a thing!