The numbers of foreign owned properties in France have escalated steeply since the early 2000s. In fact, the over subscription of properties available to rent in this, the most visited country in the world, is often put down to the sheer numbers of second homes bought by absentee owners over the last twenty years. Along with the sharp increase of absentee ownership by foreigners came the growth of professional property managers to service those owners requirements…and I’m going to explain why!
In the first flood of enthusiasm, many new owners wouldn’t dream of delegating the care of their precious holiday home into the hands of strangers. Usually by the end of their first year of ownership when their holidays have disappeared in a flash of hard DIY graft and gardening, they begin to come around to the idea of employing someone to at least break the back of the basic gardening and caretaking of their French home.
Ownership at a distance is not always easy. If you’re going to have peace of mind when you aren’t there and enjoy your visits to the hilt when you are in occupation, then you need some property management that you can rely on. The most important words there are…being able to rely on someone out of sight, to police with a small p your property: to check it in times of bad weather: to make sure you don’t arrive to find the lawn knee high and weeds growing even faster than the grass: to air the house so it’s fresh smelling and welcoming – all ready for you to relax.
Maybe initially you have made friends with some people usually of your own nationality who live in the area all the time. They offer to look in on the property from time to time, do the garden – in exchange for your bringing them over tea bags and cheddar cheese. Ah, problem solved, I hear you say. That’s until you arrive to find the unkempt garden and musty house which clearly hasn’t been aired for months, with a note in your post box from your friends to say Hey! We had a great opportunity to go and visit family – see you soon! So, you’ve lost your solution and possibly your friend too unless you can take it on the chin, and realise they were doing you a favour and didn’t feel obliged to let you know they were going away…
Enter stage left then, the local caretaker who has taken the plunge and moved to France full time – since those businesses offering property management in France will be almost entirely run by ex-pats. In our own network of property managers, although we are proud to boast a smattering of French nationals who have joined us, we know full well that most French people don’t understand that the services the local property manager can offer an absent owner, have a real value to the client whilst offering a viable business opportunity to the service provider! A ‘win-win’ scenario then, that whilst providing an essential service to the absentee owners, the new arrivals have a viable business and can fulfil their own dream of living there full time.
Over the years, having become somewhat an expert on French property, and its management, I’ve spent many hours counselling prospective new owners that it’s important that they source good local property managers BEFORE they settle on a property to buy. The overwhelming choice of property on the market is not matched by a huge choice of good property managers and sorting out the latter before you proceed with the former is a sensible course of action. The ultimate accolade I had recently was a call from an existing client of Les Bons Voisins who was contemplating the purchase of a second holiday home in France: but before they purchased, they wanted to check it was within an LBV property management area. For me, they had got their priorities right!
In a previous article we have looked at the evolution of property management in France over the years: and now an absentee owner can expect a much more sophisticated offering from their ‘caretakers’. Flexible as well as professional, they will adapt their service as appropriate from providing essential TLC to a much-loved family holiday home and having that ready for the family and their friends on their occasional visits: through to helping some owners who run their French property as a business, with the happiness of their paying guests’ paramount. Gone are the days when a disappointed guest disappeared into the ether after their holiday: now they will make their opinion known via internet reviews, and it is in everyone’s interest, the local property manager as well as the property owner, to make sure guests are happy during their stay.
And there’s even more…the logical extension to the physical management of the property is to take over the marketing of the property, and responses to queries from potential guest as the property managers may well be able to respond much more quickly than the owners might. For busy owners, this can be a huge advantage so the same people who welcome guests and cut the grass, are involved in helping the owners to attract guests from their initial enquiry.
In short then – if it’s your personal hide-away retreat, then property managers can make sure your time spent there is quality time. If the property is an investment that needs to provide a return, they can equally be part of your team and making sure it runs smoothly. Either way, as we say in Les Bons Voisins – relax, and let us take care of it – that’s why you need property management!
Sally Stone started Les Bons Voisins Property Management in 2002, the first national network of property managers in France which stretches from Calais to Cannes.
Les Bons Voisins – caring for those who care for France
Tel 0033 (0)2 96 24 74 27
By Sally Stone
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