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!
4. Market your business in France with a leaflet which can be displayed at the local office de tourisme – check out the size of their leaflet dispensers before you design it. Print double-sided and put lots of photos on.
5. Make an A4 poster for UK marketing, it can be displayed in post offices, supermarkets and leisure clubs – anywhere where you have family or friends who are rooting for you to succeed. Don’t overlook the ‘trust factor’ involved in local advertising. Choose an eye-catching headline (big enough to be read a couple of metres away) use colour photos, succinct text (perhaps bullet-points) and clear contact details. Have your phone number on tear-off strips along the bottom – and replace the poster when it, or the strips, have been removed.
Here are five top tips for marketing your Bed and Breakfast or gîte to get a quick return on your investment:
- A picture really is worth a thousand words, take photos of your property on a bright, sunny day; compose your shots carefully and clear away clutter from room and garden beforehand. A few designer touches will pay dividends; a big bowl of fruit in the kitchen, flowers in the living room and wood in the fireplace will all handsomely repay the effort. If you offer a Bed and Breakfast don’t be coy, you are your biggest asset – have some nice smiley photographs of yourselves to give that personal touch.
- Don’t price yourself out of the market, study what your competitors are charging and undercut them until you have established yourself and have repeat bookings.
- Don’t build your own website, put your property on a couple of ‘directory’ websites which already have thousands of hits per day. Look on Google and choose sites from the first two pages that are user-friendly, informative and will present your property attractively and with lots of photographs. The first photo you upload will normally be the principal photo – so make sure it’s your best. Mention any ‘added value’ you can offer as hosts such as baby-sitting facilities, help with booking restaurants or organising activities.
Continued in next blog…..
Don’t be tempted to run for the French hills and leave your tax bills behind you – the long arm of the taxman easily stretches across the channel.
But don’t worry – with the ‘double imposition’ treaty in place between the UK and France, you will only pay your dues once. To tie things up neatly before you leave heed the following advice:
- Complete and return an Inland Revenue Form P85 giving your departure date. The Inland Revenue will then settle your tax liability.
- While you are still a UK resident think about taking any tax-free cash commutation from your pension – it might not be so easy when you are already in France.
- While you will be entitled to receive your UK pension while living in France, it might be a good idea to get a forecast of your future entitlement from the Department of Work and Pensions. You might need to top up your Class 3 Contributions to obtain a full pension. Contact www.thepensionservice.gov.uk
If you’re considering buying a French property as an investment rather than somewhere to live then the maxim of ‘caveat emptor’ or ‘buyer beware’ applies even more than usual.
If you’re going to out-perform that disappointing pension fund you were counting on, then remember you make your money when you buy – not when you sell!
- The best investment may be in a place where you wouldn’t necessarily want to live. Make the decision with your head not your heart or aesthetic judgement.
- How seasonal is your rental potential? while ski or coastal resorts’ appeal is seasonal, capital cities offer all-year-round potential.
- Choose a location with a strong demand and limited supply.
- Buy under market value, this enables you to make your money when you sell.
- Spot up-and-coming areas! Is a new airport being built?, Are budget airlines opening new routes?, Are lots of jobs being created in the area? Think in advance about your pool of future tenants and their access to your property.
- Have an exit strategy. How easy will it be to sell up? If the answer to this is ‘not very’ then should you really be buying there? or should you really be paying so much?
Too old for a student Inter-Rail card but want to luxuriate in the experience of a lengthy railway trip throughout France?
You are never too old for a France Railpass rover ticket , it is valid on all trains running on the SNCF network – including high-speed TGV trains – and you can travel as much as you wish!
Prices range from £92 for a three-day ticket to £197 for nine days in any month. There is also a saver version, for two to five people travelling together and a Senior version for the over-60s.
For details: 08705 848 848 or see www.raileurope.co.uk