- Test page
- French Property Removals
- Check out your French builder (Part 2)
- How do I choose French contractors and keep a tight rein on the build schedule?
- First time buyers are turning their sights on France
- I want to redevelop and sell on French property, how do I get my finances right?
- Selling French Property (Part 1)
- Is France a safer investment than Spain or non-EU countries?
- Should I take any precautions when buying ‘Off-plan’?
- Why are so many Brits moving to France?
- How should I market my B&B or gîte so I get a quick ROI? (Part 2)
- How should I market my Bed and Breakfast or gîte so I get a quick ROI? (Part 1)
- Tax Tips for UK residents moving to France
- Investing in French Property?
- Let the train take the strain!
- Why should I buy property in France?
- French Property is getting cheaper !
- Why not get a job in France ?
New French Property Removal Business launching in Jan 2012.
French Property Advice’s founder Monsieur Gilbert is launching a new business in January 2012. If you require any light load taking to or from France please contact him for a quote. 07914899588.
Do your homework before hiring a builder in France – or just like in the UK you may repent at leisure.
Your builder has to be registered in France nomatter where he originates from and he should be able to give you details of his registration with the Chambre de Metiers. He should be able to show you his unique SIRET number, which should also be on any stationary.
If you want to check out a French builder’s credentials just go to www.manageo.fr and type in what details you have on him to see if he’s registered. To use the Manageo website’s search engine you need to know the following:
Raison sociale = company name
No. Siren = company number
Dirigeant = boss’s name
No. de tel = telephone number
Here you can check that details match; get a full address and telephone number and get confirmation of the work that a builder is registered to undertake.
France registered British builder David Lindsay said “Problems with builders are magnified when you’re away from your property and you face language difficulties and a different set of building regulations.
“You must see their registration details and insist on a detailed written estimate (un devis) which gives the price and payment terms. Never pay anything in cash up front.”
Always ask to see examples of past work and when work is done always get a receipt. Never be tempted by a reduction for paying in cash – you will have no comeback in the event of problems. You could also be storing up problems for the future with tax, VAT and, if you sell what is your secondary residence, capital gains tax declarations.
The French system is designed to protect the client from unscrupulous cowboys masquerading as builders, so take advantage of the fact that France is a civilized country with regulations and make the system work for you.
Whether you’re having work done on your own French property or developing property for a living, it pays to choose your contractors wisely and control the build schedule as well as your budget.
To find registered tradesmen who are approved, licensed and insured go to the local Chambre des Metiers (Craftsmens’ Guild). When choosing always:
- Check their Siret number – this shows they are qualified in the job you want them to do.
- Get references – check the quality of their work first-hand by inspecting one of their previous jobs.
- Hold money back – never pay the full amount up front for anybody’s work until you’re absolutely happy with the results.
- Make sure you get a written estimate ‘un devis’ – to accept it , write “Bon pour Accord” and sign and date it – it is then binding on both parties.
To keep within budget you have to keep the build on schedule so someone must be on-site to oversee the work. Work done in the wrong order is a waste of money. Will you project manage the build yourself or would your time be better employed earning money to pay for the work? A project manager typically takes 10% but his presence makes sure that work is done in the right order and with reliable builders. Which is most valuable to you, your time or your money?
If you want to be a property developer in France then you must keep a tight rein on your budget and not let emotions get the better of your sums!
a = Purchase Price
b = Renovation Costs
c = Re-Sale Value
d = Profit
Your profit (d) is the resale value (c) minus Purchase Price (a) and Renovation Costs (b). Don’t take your eye off this equation.
Let’s look at the purchase price because the cheapest buy doesn’t necessarily make the biggest profit – if there are hidden structural issues the cost of renovation could be prohibitive making the prospect for a healthy profit remote. One thing is certain, in property developing you make your money when you buy not when you sell!
The ideal property is structurally sound and affordable with little work needed and a high profit margin (achieved either by adding value or by external factors such as major infrastructure or jobs coming to the area). You really have to have your ear to the ground to pick up the early tremors and pick a bargain in an emerging hot spot, for most properties there is a trade off between the 4 cornerstones of the equation.
Get a full structural survey done to be sure your investment is solid as a rock and will not turn into a money-pit. Know what you are prepared to pay for something and go no more – be prepared to walk away. Remember you’re in the business of selling on, you are not buying for yourself.
You should have a budget for renovation costs, remember to talk to builders to get estimates for re-wiring, re-plumbing, kitchen and bathroom improvements etc so your budget is realistic. Budget for the following:
Labour and materials
Electrics and plumbing
Kitchen and bathroom
Windows and doors
Furnishing and decorating
Fees and Costs (eg. applying for planning permission, architect’s fees etc)
Contingency (when dealing with old properties expect the worst!)
Your total Renovation budget will be well spent providing you bought astutely and your Re-Sale value warrants the investment. Factors affecting the Re-Sale value include whether your property is:
Close to an airport with budget flights
In a lively town or village
In an up and coming town or village
Close to the coast
Close to ski stations
Other factors affecting re-sale value are outside space, barns to convert, protected views or scope for a roof terrace – all enable you to add value to to your investment and increase the all-important bottom line, your profit.
The key to selling your French property is to make sure you bought well in the first place. If you bought the right house in the right location at the right price then the job is half done – if you didn’t all is not lost. Here are a few tips:
You will have to launch a full scale assault on the market to blow the competition out of the water. Remember you are in direct competition not only with other resale properties but in many cases massive new developments with huge advertising budgets and big marketing campaigns.
These developers pick potential buyers up at the airport, wine and dine them in a 5* hotel, give a guided tour of the show home with its designer furniture and then take them to the marketing suite to see plans and sign on the dotted line. This is what you are up against so you must do everything at your disposal to give yourself a competitive advantage – remember all you need to find is ONE buyer.
When a property isn’t very large you’ve got to maximise every square metre of floorspace. Don’t cover stains with throws over furntiture – it’s quite literally a cover up and some buyers will think ‘if they’re covering up the sofa what else are they covering up?’ Every room in your property needs re-working to make it feel like a brand new property. Invest money but make every penny count.
Replace old kitchen units, outdated tiles and worktops with the clean crisp lines of all white units and working top; remove partition walls to open out space and turn poky kitchens into ones which will impress buyers. Brits in particular like lots of space to cook in.
Your bedrooms are tiny? If you’ve got fitted wardrobes then keep them but strip out any other stand alone cupboards and wardrobes to make the room appear larger. The miracle of de-cluttering will show off the square meterage to the full. Simplicity sells.
In brief make your property a show home too – every detail from the furniture, the artwork, the dressings and the lighting should be carefully chosen to make it look as good as a brand new property. Get rid of the junk and the cheap furniture in favour of a chic sophisticated look and don’t forget the finishing touches like a parasol and cushions for your sun-loungers.
A staggering 1 in 10 Britons have now bought abroad in search of sun kissed beaches or idyllic villages. But for those who have bought in certain destinations the dream lives have turned into nightmares, dream homes have turned into money-pits and dream investments have turned into scams.
Spain’s infamous land-grab problem is not the only risk. The turbo-charged Spanish construction industry is spiralling out of control as wave after wave of new-build developments hit the coastline. This could trigger a property crash leaving thousands of Brits high and dry as a glut of properties will mean more supply than demand. In contrast the French coastline is protected by more planning regulation than you can shake a stick at – which protects both the natural landscape and your investment.
But even in France never buy in areas that are purely fuelled by foreign investment as this source could dry up, there must be local demand as well. Buy in places where there is no potential for more development where demand will always out-strip supply – places like historic town centres. And if you do buy on a new-build development bargain hard and get a knock down price so you can sell cheaply and therefore quickly if you want to move on. Remember you make your money on property when you BUY not when you sell!
In non-EU countries euphemistically termed ’emerging markets’ you do not have the same protection against scams and corruption. Get-rich-quick schemes are usually scams so don’t enter into deals that sound too good to be true. If you do go ahead don’t think bribery and backhanders will get things moving – get everything in writing and keep everything above board.
The French system protects both buyers and sellers, unlike in the UK their estate agency industry is regulated and all French estate agents belong to a professional body (usually FNAIM) which guarantees professional standards and provides insurance cover in the event of any mistakes.
Buying ‘Off-plan’ seems like a ‘win-win’ situation; the developer gets his money early, you get a discounted price and personal input into the specifications.
But we would advise you to instruct an independent solicitor to act for you – one who is not linked to the estate agent or developer. Whereas an English solicitor will automatically ask certain questions on your behalf, a French notaire is not quite so proactive and you you will have to ask them to ask certain questions.
The ‘big three ‘ questions which must be asked are:
- Does the builder have planning permission?
- Is the builder contractually obliged to give compensation if he doesn’t honour the completion dates for the various ‘tranches’ of the development. You might want to stipulate a maximum or indeed minimum period of time for moving in – both to avoid costly delays and to avoid having to move in before you are ready.
- Is there a bank guarantee in place so that you will get money back if something goes wrong?
A Bordeaux University study has thrown some light on just why it is that so many Brits are selling up in the UK and making home across the channel.
Montesquieu University’s survey of 2,750 Brits who are planning to move to France in the next three years reveals that it is only in France that ex-pats with relatively modest means are able to rediscover the rural idyll that was 1950s Britain.
In an increasingly urban Britain, only the wealthy are able to access the quality of life that comes from rural living – not so in France where many villages are still depopulated from the 20th Century population shifts towards towns and cities. New-comers are positively welcomed as saviours of the community and, if they have children, the village school.
The attraction is not just that property prices are still actually related to salaries and pensions, there is also a nostalgia for old-fashioned British values and way of life. Those looking forward to “La Vie Anglaise” across the water frequently cite tight-knit communities where you can leave your door open and where children can play safely, locally farmed food, low crime levels and the joys of Sunday afternoon cricket on the village green!