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Monday, June 15, 2009

Is now the time to buy a property in France ?????

What's been happening recently?

Things have definitely changed over the last 3-4 weeks and it seems that now may be the right time to buy a property in France.

Activity levels have picked up fairly sharply both in terms of enquiries and client visits. What's interesting is that this has also filtered down into offers and sales.

I've just looked through my stats and can tell you that in the last 5 weeks I've had 9 sets of clients over from the UK and Ireland. This may mean nothing to you but when I tell you that out of those 9 sets of clients, 8 have made offers on properties you can see why I'm feeling optimistic.
I worked for 13 years as a central London Estate Agent and I can tell you that even there those conversion rates are fantastically high.

Why is this?

This of course is the multi million pound question and I don't claim to be an economist but I can tell you this.

The word on the street in the UK is that things have improved in many sectors. I have friends working in Estate Agency in central London who tell me that the last 4 weeks have shown a big improvement and they are generally very busy. One friend just posted his end of month figures for May which showed a very respectable number, even for a regular market.

So people are feeling more optimistic in the UK. France is the same, although it didn't seem to hit here quite as badly anyway but that's another story.

I have been banging on at sellers for what seems to be ages and ages to get realistic with their prices over here and it seems as though people are now beginning to wake up to reality. Other agents here are following suit so now I'm not the only one "Preaching the gospel".

This has meant a shift in the quality of property for sale in this part of France for the better. Sure, there's still a lot of rubbish out there but more and more good properties are coming on to the market at realistic prices and more and more of these are selling. Buyers need to be excited by property. They want to buy but need to feel like they are buying well in order to make a commitment.

What are people buying?

I suppose it's the same old mantra here really. Quality, location and character.

A quality property doesn't have to be something that's been done up to the nines, it might need everything doing to it but still be a "Good" property.

The biggest demand we have is for properties in pretty villages with a bit of life and a bit of commerce within a short drive of a proper town such as Pezenas. Pezenas works very well as it's kind of in the middle of everything.

• Within 20-30 mins of the beach
• Within an hour’s drive of 5 airports
• Within 30 mins drive of the hills
• It's got the best weather in this part of France
• Montpellier is around 35 mins away
• Beziers is 20 mins away
• You can drive to the ski slopes of the Pyrenees in under 3 hours
• You can drive to the Alpes in 5 hours

It's easy to see why this part of the Languedoc is so popular.

Character properties have always been a favourite here as this part of France is steeped in history and us Brits like nothing better than a good bit of stone, brick and wood with a few stories behind it.

I would say that 75% of my buyers are looking for an old stone property with wooden beams and the character of the old Mediterranean. However, this type of house with a garden is pretty hard to find so probably around 50% of buyers end up going for something different in order to buy into the whole private swimming pool thing. Let's be honest, going to the beach is fab but there's something rather special about having your own swimming pool.

What else is selling?

The other types of properties that are doing well are a select group of high quality developments that are being built and/or planned at the moment.

The Domaine de Lavagnac is attracting a lot of attention at the moment. This development was only launched a few weeks ago but has already attracted a lot of people to put down deposits and sign reservation forms. The Domaine de Lavagnac offers a stunning combination of 18 hole golf course and 400 year old Chateau set among 192 hectares of unspoilt woodlands and vineyards. The icing on the cake? A guaranteed return of 7% for the first bunch of reservations. Click here to see the properties for sale at the Domaine de Lavagnac. Simply type "LAV" into the search box and you will be presented with full details on all the properties available in the Domaine but hurry as the 7% deal is a limited offer.

Another fabulous development that is attracting a lot of interest is the Chateau les Carrasses project near Beziers. This beautiful old Chateau with it's on site winery is being transformed into 28 high end units ranging from 1 bed apartments to family sized houses with private swimming pools. It's a different concept to the Lavagnac leaseback solution and is being bought for different reasons but again it's a high end development that has taken a good number of reservation deposits in its opening weeks. Click here to go to our property listings page and type KARLO into the reference search box to see details of what's available at the Chateau les Carrasses.

Where is the market going to go now?

If I could answer this I would be writing this newsletter from a yacht in the Caribbean instead of my office in Pezenas. I can tell you that I don't think prices are about to start going up anytime soon but it does look as though they've stopped going down.

It seems as though the clever money is starting to invest again and that's always a good sign. Generally speaking, someone doesn't have £500,000 sitting in a savings account in cash unless they've made a few wise calls in their time.

So is it the right time to buy? Yes. I think it is. My advice is to jump on a plane and grab a good deal before someone else does.

If you'd like to discuss your property requirements then call me on 00 33 467 00 11 71 or click here to go to our property search page. We might not have much, but what we do have is selling so we must be doing something right!

Happy house hunting

Simon Kerridge

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