The English love it!
In 1989 I bought a tumbledown barn between Verteillac and Ribérac for about £35,000 as a holiday home. I spent a year renovating it with the aid of a local architect and local builders. It provided five bedrooms, a bathroom and two shower-rooms. It was heated by electric radiators and a wood-burning stove. Some years later I had the garden landscaped. In 2002 I sold it – quite quickly – to a charming English couple for about £110,000, making a slight loss on the capital investment. The present owners have installed a pool. I don’t know what the current value is, but it won’t be less than 200,000 euros.
This story illustrates a number of points about the local market. First, the tumbledown barn can not usually be acquired so cheaply because prices have risen generally. Secondly, don’t expect to make a profit on your French real estate. If you want a return on your investment, it may be safer to invest in the UK, where property has a better record of steadily increasing. Thirdly, a property that has been well renovated will sell quite fast. Fourthly, buyers will now be wanting a swimming-pool. Fifthly, 200,000 euros is quite a lot to spend on a holiday home!
A local agent’s views
Claudine Porte is one of the three English-speaking agents at La Bourse de l’Immobilier in Ribérac. She told us that 80% of their buyers come from the UK, paying on average something between €150,000 and €230,000. Buyers are usually looking for an older country property with some original features and either a pool or at least sufficient land for a pool to be installed. Prices for this kind of property have more than doubled over the past ten years. The advice given by Claudine to buyers is to buy an old stone property. However, she suggests that they need to think about their needs: are they going to be permanent residents or just here for holidays? Do they have children? If so, a home in the country may mean constant driving if the children are to attend local schools.
Words of warning
Claudine has also noticed that buyers often get carried away by the amount of land they can buy for their money. “They always want two hectares of land for a holiday home”, she says, “but then they find that they spend their whole holiday gardening or else have to pay high costs of maintenance”.
And she has a word of warning for permanent residents. “People buy in the summer and don’t realise how cold the winters are. Central heating is essential. This isn’t Spain!”
What can you buy for your money? A tumbledown barn can still be acquired for under €100,000. If you want a Maison de maitre it will set you back about €300,000 and will usually need some work. And don’t think of a château for under €500,000 – plus renovation costs!
Prospects moving forward? “We have so many English buyers that a lot will depend on the English market,” Claudine said. “However, we don’t anticipate any great price increases.”
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