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How did you find your French house/what research did you do to make sure it was the right one for you?


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[quote user="chessfou"] Since when we have not bothered looking - we are happy here, don't want to move and the vastly superior French rental system means it is very unlikely that we would ever need to (at least until we lose our mobility ... or Sterling sinks below parity).

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That's a good point. There's no security of tenure in the UK system, you can be booted out at short notice. And that's one of main reasons so many people in the UK feel compelled to buy.
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Having had a holiday home for a while but in a rainy area of France (sorry, Limousin is lovely but it can get wet a lot!!), we decided to move further south and knew exactly what kind of house we wanted.   We really had a picture in our mind and knew the rough area we wanted but experience with estate agents put us right off, they show you anything that suits plus you never know which agent has the right property and you can view hundreds.  So we drew up a list with three columns - what the house must have, what is mustn't (those two columns were absolutes) and the third being 'don't mind'.  We had criteria such as that we must be be able to see both the rising sun and the setting sun, without obstruction so a clear horizon view, also not to be bothered from neighbour's noise, plus access to water, and things like that.  In the end we contacted a house-finding agency and gave them the list and told them that unless they could come up what we wanted, then don't ask us to come over for viewings of unsuitable houses.  Actually, the agency said it was easy with a firm list as many people keep changing their mind, so they almost had a checklist.

They contacted us a month or so later with a dozen properties to view, all of which pretty much fitted the bill and from which we selected the one we are now in, which ticks every box.  Their fee was taken from the estate agents' share so there was nothing extra for us to pay.  Much better than trudging around a dozen estate agents in a dozen different towns and being given the runaround (which had been our experience with our first house).

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I know that the property search agency didn't charge us anything.  I think that they search around all the agents and then cut a deal with the agents if someone buys a property, so probably split the fee.  I guess their marketing angle is to tell the agency that they have a potential buyer who otherwise wouldn't go directly (or even know of) the agency.  So it cost us nothing extra.
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I'm a bit late on this thread, but I've only just found it..

We decided to move over and had an idea of where we wanted to go to due to needing to get somewhere that was warm and dry. That's for the arthritis in my hands. We had a few trips over and finally settled on the Aude (11). Our final 'looking trip' was 4 days to sort out somewhere to rent, open a bank account and sort the insurance for the rented property. We were in the bank just over an hour before our return flight left. We made the flight, just!

We then had 8 months in the rented house while we looked around the Carcassonne area. The rental contract was for 2 years, but with the French system the renter can give 3 months notice and vacate.

We looked at about 6 places in the first 5 months, well there is a LOAD of wine here to discover, and found the house we wanted and signed for it 4 years ago last Wednesday. We moved in 3 months later and now live in a house that we couldn't have even dreamed of owning in England.

For something as importaint as this we couldn't have just come over, bought on the spur and been happy about the decision at the time even if it did turn out to be correct.

Pads, your house is great and with your own, well nearly, huge swimming lake, well??? Wot about the barn????????????
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I'm even later to this than Jonzjob and may get the award for least research.

House 1: We had never thought about buying a house in France until, one day, friends approached us with 2 (exterior) photos and asked if we wanted to go in with them on a house in the Auvergne (an area that we had never visited, much less researched).  We thought about it for about 30 seconds before agreeing.  12 months later (long story with lots of humorous and non-humorous complications but no research), we, jointly, owned the house.

House 2: DH came running in from the garden of House 1 and said, "Some woman just called down from the garden next door and asked if we wanted to look at the house (which we didn't know was on the market)."  We looked at it, and, despite its being damp, dirty, and in need of new roofs, plumbing, wiring and other renovation, almost immediately decided to buy it.  The house had tremendous potential and it was in the perfect location for us.

Sometimes things just fall into your lap, but I don't recommend that anyone follow our example.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Umpteen years of holidaying in this area of France, Numerous specific house hunting trips, a list of "must-haves" & nice to haves & a thorough knowledge of the area, we had viewed probably around 100 properties  & our estate agent knew what we wanted so when our current place came on the market, we viewed it, it ticked all the boxes and we viewed it and made a full asking price offer that same day. Have been here nearly 2 years full time now & it was a holiday home for 3 years prior to that.

Do your homework is the imprtant bit and be prepared to move fast when you find the one, but don't through away common sense

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We had never visited the Gers (Villeneuve sur Lot being the closest), but friends had moved there recently. We had been thinking about a holiday home in the South, near Toulon, but cost, crime, and bi-polar in and out of season prompted us to look elsewhere.

We boarded easyjet from Gatwick to Toulouse, arrived in Toulouse at 10:30a.m. Collected a hire car. Drove for 1hr20mins to Lectoure.We were shown 5 houses in 5 hours. We loved the first house so much that at 6:30 in the evening we put in a full asking price offer which was accepted the following morning.

The actual purchase took 5 months to conclude along a tortuous route (another story).

That was 2 years ago and we have no regrets!

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" but cost, crime, and bi-polar in and out of season prompted us to look elsewhere."  I don't understand - are people in Toulon more prone to manic depression?  Not joking, I know it's a serious condition.

We found BMI Baby had started flying East Midlands-Toulouse, booked flight and gite.  Couldn't help looking in estate agents.  A friend told us her sister was buying a French property with a mortgage;  this had never occurred to us.  We decided we would borrow no more than £50000 so that gave us our budget.  We arrived late Saturday night, saw the house on Wed and agreed to buy on Friday.  That was 5 years ago and we don't regret it and moved over full time last summer.

However, the sensible thing would be to read and surf the internet and decide on an area, then visit and contact estate agents and see what appeals.  I don't think it's a good idea to have a long list of boxes which must be ticked or you could look forever and life is too short.  (I said the same to my son's friend who is choosy about men - sometimes you have to compromise!)

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 We live in the Channel Islands, wanted somewhere in France,not east, couldn't afford south,know Brittany and Normandy well,very nice but weather same as Jersey if not worse. Having had great holidays in Dordogne looked there and then looked again in February,dead and so cold I wanted to be dead! Gers similar, really liked Landes but really damp.Charente maritime ticked most of the boxes, La Rochelle is fantastic but too expensive for me,eventually looked around a bit further south and found a town with a fresh fish shop,most important to me, and a few kilometres away a market(Cozes)with a stall selling live spider crabs, the best tasting crustacean by far,lobsters and crayfish included.

So eventually bought a property near Pons,having spoken to three local estate agents and made appointments to view 3 or 4 at a time,and saw one offered by an agent in Gemozac that had for us the wow factor,which meant that we could afford it,it wasn't in need of bulldozing and rebuilding,it was light and airy,have since been conned by local electrician and plumber, eventually asked my very French neighbour for advice and am just about sorted.

I am no longer determined to do things myself without bothering local friends and neighbours,they are not only very helpful but only too pleased to help.

I found that internet property sites were useful as price guides,but largely out of date regards specific houses.I am very happy with my work in progress house and now that my wife has retired we are looking forward to spending much more time there and hopefully making a house out of what we already regard as a home.

Peter.

Happy New Year to All.

 

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[quote user="Llantony"]

" but cost, crime, and bi-polar in and out of season prompted us to look elsewhere."  I don't understand - are people in Toulon more prone to manic depression?  Not joking, I know it's a serious condition.

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I really meant the area is bi-polar not the people, if it is possible to use bi-polar in that sense. What I meant is that in Summer it is log jammed with people, its great, but you can't move, can't really drive anywhere, the beach bar/night clubs spew music late in to the night. In winter the place is a deserted. On the crime side, there were too many reports of break-ins on holiday homes. The beach bar we went to each day was literally blown up one christmas (out of season and boarded up I should add) because the owners wouldnt pay the 'racket' and one night while we were sitting at a beach restaurant, a scuba diver climbed out the water with a bag, ran up the beach and dissapeared. Five mins later a police helicopter came along and spent 30 mins searching all the anchoured boats with a spotlight. I love that area between Toulon and St Tropez, and we still visit there, but we decided for all the positives, there are also some large negatives to consider.

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We are hunting for our next place right now - and really enjoying the process.

We particularly like spotting something on the web (seloger et al) or in an immo's window and then trying to work out where it is and find it ourselves. It's quite an adventure!

We have drawn up a "logical" wish list: must haves and nice to haves etc, but that gut feeling of falling in love with a place will always win out for me.

Bonne Annee

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[quote user="Ian"]


We particularly like spotting something on the web (seloger et al) or in an immo's window and then trying to work out where it is and find it ourselves. It's quite an adventure!

Bonne Annee


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Yes, always a bit of a laugh when a seller asks an immo to photograph and promote their house, to put it in their window/on their website, and then turns around and does a sneaky private sale on the back of that free publicity.

Still, free publicity is not to be sneezed at in the current climate I suppose, and every penny pinched is a penny saved.

 

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You are right Cat it's a daft way to run an industry. Real Estate Sales in France seems ripe for reform to me. That said, that is how the system is ("We'll give you free publicity, as will a dozen other "professionals" but if you sell it yourself you'll save tens of thousands of euros and be able to cut your buyer a good deal": bonkers surely?)- but who am I to fight the system. When in Rome ...

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We bought our French holiday home over 20 years ago, after viewing 5 places, making our offer and paying our deposit in the space of 4 days. In that time, a friend and I have made a little hobby of looking at houses for sale in our near area, not seriously thinking either of us might find something irresistable... Then in 2007 I happened to see a very pretty house, took my husband to view it, and suddenly we were in love, despite the huge amount of work needed, despite the cesspit, despite the dirt, we bought it. It has meant selling our home in England and downsizing, but we both knew instantly that this was the place we want to spend our retirement, hopefully we will move there permanently at the end of next year. It feel great to say that, next year.

Pat

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