Town mouse, country mouse
The Quercy has become enormously popular in the last few years, and popularity brings price rises. However it is only in the last five years that we have seen a real increase in the foreign population and the vast majority were retired older couples. The situation is just beginning to change again, in the last year or two we’ve seen a marked increase in the number of young couples and young families moving into the area, bringing business and new life to the valleys. They also bring a change in the mood of local estate agents; the market has tilted slightly on its axis. For several years the British have been looking for a good stone built property with plenty of garden and preferably plenty of land. As a general rule this means a farmhouse.
There’s a limited supply of them and unfortunately they’re no longer as inexpensive as they were, so the younger families have been looking elsewhere. Naturally enough this has caused an upsurge of interest and a steady increase in the prices of town and village properties.
There are some highly desirable houses available in some of the loveliest villages of the region, and unlike their country counterparts they haven’t yet been renovated, making them even more affordable. Some have gardens, some have terraces, some have outstanding views and many would be a good source of income as possible gites. Naturally prices depend on location and condition, but at the bottom end of the market you can still find a terraced stone house in one of the smaller villages for well under 50,000 Euros. Of course it would need absolutely everything doing, but if you’re prepared to roll your sleeves up and have the patience and perseverance to see the project through, it’s a steal. If you have a little more to invest, you can find houses in very tolerable condition, even in the beautiful medieval bastide villages, for under 100,000 Euros.
Quite incredible value, especially when you consider that these villages are being gradually restored by their communes to attract tourism. The properties in this sort of price bracket are often described by the agents as ‘habitable’, which means they still need a bit of work before you would consider them fit to live in. However, if you’re looking for a smaller house, with perhaps one or two bedrooms, you can find the odd one or two fully renovated for this figure. Bearing in mind the current trend, these properties could perhaps represent a shrewd investment as well. Young families may not necessarily want to be located ten kilometres from the nearest primary school and five kilometres from the nearest bakery, neither would a great many tourists. Of course there are still numerous country mice out there who will always prefer the quiet and seclusion of an isolated spot, but in my opinion the town mice will soon outnumber them. Village properties are hot, and in the favoured villages they’re selling fast.
© Amanda Lawrence
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