Charente river

‘Let me make it clear right from the start that my idea of a bargain isn’t the cheapest, it’s the best value for money’, says Graham Downie.

Set out below are some of the latest figures published by the “Notaires de France” and available here www.immoprix.com

Look carefully and you will see that the average house price, across France is €195,400. The average house price in Charente is just €128,900 (although this rises to €166,200 if you include all four departments of Poitou Charentes).

Now I think that’s an amazing statistic when you look at what the Charente has to offer. The region is one third cheaper than the average yet:

• It’s the second sunniest region of France with around 2,400 hours of sunshine every year.
• It boasts terrific communication links including direct flights to the UK, proximity to the motorway network and TGV trains to Paris, Lille and the UK.
• The river Charente is universally ageed to be one of the most beautiful in France.
• The countryside is stunning with rolling hills covered in vines & sunflowers
• The World famous town of Cognac is lively throughout the year with an abundance of festivals, bars, restaurants and leisure activities.
• There is a variety of property available from townhouses to Maison de Maitres with walled gardens and towering views over the vines.

So assuming that you agree with me that Charente is the place to be then what tips do I have to help you dig out a bargain? Here are five to be going on with:

Charente church1. Don’t skimp on the research – the area has a different character in Winter than in Summer. The bigger towns are lively all year long (bars, restaurants, indoor swimming pools, cinemas, bowling alleys, theatres, tennis clubs, golf courses etc) but some of the smaller villages can seem very quiet.

2. Scour the market fully – there are (still) hundreds of agents covering the Charente as well as plenty of private sales and houses for sale through a notaire. The internet shows a fraction of these and houses marketed in this way are often over priced. To dig out the real gems you need to put in plenty of legwork.

3. Don’t pay over the odds – in France it’s often the vendor who sets the price. You need to put in the legwork (see above) to collect the comparable evidence so that you have a full understanding of what your money gets you. Locals know instinctively which houses are overpriced and you want to pay the local price not a “tourist” price.

Charente autumn4. Don’t fall into the land trap. Land is comparatively cheap here and it’s tempting to buy as much as possible. Think it through properly – who will tend it for you. Grass grows phenomenally quickly out here and a pretty lawned area can soon become overgrown and full of weeds, brambles and snakes. Better to have a reasonable sized garden with views over someone else well kept vines.

5. Use a professional search agent to scour the market for you. OK, I know I’m biased but I genuinely believe that I save all my clients time, money and give them peace of mind.

Follow these five tips and I’m confident that you’ll find a bargain that will give you years of pleasure and the potential for some long term capital growth.

Graham Downie

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