Property is not theft…

…although it can sometimes be a bit of a steal.

After several weeks looking at houses in various states of repair – from partially roofless to immaculately renovated – we’ve finally settled on a house not too far from here in a tiny hamlet.

We first viewed it about a week after we came over here at the beginning of March, fell in love with it but reluctantly rejected it because the cost would have left us without enough money to renovate it properly.

After a few more weeks looking at more houses (about 20 in all) we began to understand the local property market a bit better.

We realised that there was in fact no cohesive pattern to the market and that the concept of an ‘average price’ was of little meaning to the vendors here and subsequently safely ignored by the buyer.

To give an example, one of the houses we looked at is two houses away from the house we’re renting at the moment. – in the same hamlet. It was a bit small but would have made a nice 2 bedroom house with about half an acre of garden.

It was 68 000 Euros – all costs included. After a series of offers we ended up making a final offer of 48 000 which was accepted before we pulled out having had an offer accepted for the house we’re now hoping to buy. 

Since then the estate agent has phoned us and an all-in price of 45 000 Euros proposed. Now, whilst any buyer with an ounce of sense will never offer the asking price and negotiation will almost always bring about a lower figure, we’re talking a reduction of around a third, which is a hell of a lot.

With much of this in mind, we put in a stupidly low offer for the house we’re eventually buying and got it for just over a third of its original asking price after a very slight (2 500 Euros) adjustment to our offer.

Here it is:

P1010036

 P1010048

Yes, it needs a lot of work but it’s all within our budget and we’ll end up with a three bedroom house with two bathrooms, two very large reception rooms, a huge kitchen/diner and a utility room and all standing in an acre of land with orchards, wells, two ponds and a small barn. Furthermore it should be saleable and make a profit should we have to sell – assuming property prices don’t go totally down the crapper.

What I’m basically saying is that if you’re thinking of buying in France – particularly older properties in need of renovation – then don’t be afraid to go in really low with your offer.

If you’re not embarrassed by offering such a low figure then you’re offering too much.

This is further borne out by a friend who’s just bought a house much further south and who’s just snagged a real bargain too.

In late breaking news, we’ve just signed the sale agreement – the compromis – and barring the sellers pulling out we should have the keys to the new house by 31st August and, hopefully, sooner if the bureaucratic fairies are on our side.

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6 Responses

  1. It used to be the case that the French weren’t keen (as we Brits seem to be, judging by the plethora of TV series on the subject) on renovating any old buildings, preferring new-build instead.

    Is that still the case?

  2. To a certain extent yes that’s still the case, although the restrictions on mortgages are making some people think again. However, even new builds can be had very cheaply here: sub – 100K euros.

    Quite a few older properties are becoming second homes around here. The Parisians buy them up and renovate them. Paris is quite close.

    The golden days of cheap French property for ex-pats might be over – done for by the weak pound – but there are still some bargains to be had. You just have to look in the right area (away from the coast and obvious tourist attractions) and be prepared to forgo a 365 day a year ‘holiday home’. If, however, you just want rural charm and tranquility then the lesser-known areas like the Mayenne offer a lot. We love it here!

  3. Currently working near Marseille and maybe selling my UK house.

    The thought of buying in the same size ballpark as you; how far south is your mate, and what ballpark size and cost?

    I guess that 1/2 hour north of Aix-en-Provence would work for commuting. Further north (south of Lyon / Millau) would be nice for hols en France and later retirement.

    Bon chance avec ta maison nouvelle.

  4. Sounds like you’ve found a bargain – congratulations!

  5. @Gendeau

    He’s two fields away from the Lot – he can see it from his plot – and he’s near Rodez.

    50 to 60K (Euros) should get you something basically sound if you hunt about and 60 to 70K (Euros) should get you a really nice renovation job.

    That’s 130K for a nice property with some land around it – about £115K.

    Hard to actually specify size, but you should get 3 bedrooms, two reception, kitchen/diner from a largish longere or the basic corps de ferme. Don’t forget that outbuildings are often associated with older properties and may offer scope for expansion. Even if you can’t get planning permission for a barn, you can often use them for workshops and studios. Land is typically half to one acre – or more – with older properties.

    OK, very ballpark but based on a few places I’ve seen whilst over here.

  6. Thanks for the info, it seems that the “downsizing after the kids leave” doesn’t work in the UK anymore, nice to see an attractive alternative reasonably close at hand.

    Cheers

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