From Aquitaine’s top buying hotspots to house-hunting dos and don’ts, Madeline Aveson-Gruber reveals how to find the perfect home in France’s sunny southwest corner
Q. What do you have to offer that run-of-the-mill estate agents or private sales sites don’t?
A. Simply put, we are a tailor-made service that works with you to find your dream property. You will get to see properties across the board – whether it be through estate agents or via private sales. It will optimise your time for house-searching and visits and you will only see properties that correspond to your brief. We will stay with you during the whole process, supplying mortgage advice if necessary, advising you how to best set up the legal side of things and deal with the notary.
You should feel comfortable about your chosen area, so one of the things we do in order to make sure you have answers to all your questions is to set up a dinner with a few people from a similar demographic, so you can spend some time chatting to Brits who have already made the move.
Honesty is definitely the best policy and we believe that anyone making such an important move should do so knowing all the pros and cons.
Q. Which areas are particularly attractive, or up and coming, in Aquitaine?
A. Most people thinking about relocating to the Southwest will automatically head towards Dordogne, but many are starting to realise that the neighbouring Lot-et-Garonne is also a great département where you can still find lovely properties at reasonable prices. In fact, if you live in the north of the département, around the bastide town of Duras, you are only about 10 minutes away from Eymet in Dordogne and from Monségur in Gironde. If you are looking to visit, invest or relocate to the Southwest and really want to be far away from everything, Lot-et-Garonne could be the perfect solution.
Q. What are buyers’ biggest misconceptions about moving to France?
A. One misconception is that all property in France is cheaper than in the UK. Although reasonably priced places can be found, it depends on the area and the state of the house. Another misconception is that it will be easy to make the move without speaking the language. French administration is frustrating (even for the French) and it’s only exacerbated if you don’t understand the language! Laws change frequently with each government. In order to keep up to date and avoid making, sometimes costly, mistakes it is worth seeking professional help. Aquitaine Lifestyle Solutions will take your global solution into account to give you the best advice adapted to your own personal situation.
Q. What are your house-hunting dos and don’ts?
A. Research your area before visiting. Make sure it fits the bill and that you haven’t just fallen in love with a house. Also remember that you can change most things about a property – apart from the location. Be clear about the amount of work you are prepared to do and don’t underestimate the renovation budget. Also, remember that if a house is really cheap, there is probably a good reason for it. Bargains can be found, of course, but make sure you know why the asking price is so low!
Don’t underestimate the winters and the need for a good heating system – even if the climate is mild. Land is fairly cheap in France, so many people opt for a property with acres of countryside surrounding them. They often forget to factor in the amount of time, work and expense needed to cut grass, fence off areas for animals or prune trees.
Madeline Aveson-Gruber is General Director at Aquitaine Lifestyle Solutions, which offers financial advice, househunting, relocation and property management services.
Keep up to date with property news and developments in the southwest of France on www.aquitaine-lifestyle-solutions.com
For more information about real estate, relocation and property management services in France’s southwest, call +33 (0)5 5383 8907. Alternatively, email [email protected]