News: France bursting with hidden gems

Mon, 14 Jan 08

If you know where to look, France is bursting with property bargains...

Trevor Leggett of Leggett Immobilier recently commented: ‘The real bargains in France are still there, but you need to know where to look. Houses in remote locations and true renovations are becoming harder to find at good prices.

“Instead, the best bargains are to be found in the heart of French towns and villages – sometimes these are houses without gardens for as little as 25,000 euros or beautiful maison de maitres and presbyteries to renovate for 100,000 – 150,000 euros.

“Once renovated, you may have to ‘sit’ on your property for a little longer in order for the rest of the market to catch up with you, but town houses offer excellent, spacious accommodation and can still provide the quieter, relaxed lifestyle people are looking for at half the price of a comparable property down a quiet lane in the countryside.”

Permanent homes preferred

Leggett continued: “We are now finding that the majority of our buyers are looking for permanent homes, instead of holiday homes – the split is now about 75 per cent buying permanent homes as opposed to 25 per cent looking for holiday homes.

“Buyers are getting younger too – whilst 10 years ago they were all retirees – now our average client is aged between 40 – 50 years with a family, moving out, looking to work and wanting to integrate fully with French life.

“This is making a difference both to the kind of properties they are looking for, and the locations. After all, daily life in a permanent home is different to that in a holiday home, and most buyers now want to be sure that they can have a long term future where they find their dream home.”

Village living popular

Houses in small to middle-sized towns can often be hidden gems, with courtyard gardens or large walled gardens. These have not been popular with British buyers in the past who have looked for more remote locations with plenty of land.

Trevor Leggett adds, “People who have bought in remote locations or on the edge of hamlets may think that they can integrate at their own pace, but in reality living in a village or town obliges you to integrate and use your French. People are realising that it can pay to live in the middle of a charming French town with plenty of amenities and neighbours to help with integration.

“French town houses are on mains drainage with town gas and good schools available for those moving with families. Look out for town houses with attached barns as these are excellent value and provide ample garaging for cars.”

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