If you're thinking of buying French property, read on for a few pointers on how to invest in a deluxe home which is future proof.
An eye to the future should be at the heart of your French property investment
Step 1. Use the right estate agent
If you’re a novice property investor abroad, there will always be factors you haven’t considered and local market intelligence you simply won’t have access to. Winkworth International has acted for British buyers throughout France for many years, so we’re in the unique position of being able to share the “what and where” of a sound investment.
...to identify the right property
For example, the intricacies of investing in a ski-chalet in The Alps are endless. Courchevel, Europe’s largest premier ski resort stays open whatever the season - not only does it attract competitors to its yearly Dynastar X3 mountain triathlon in Mid-April, it also offers mountain-walking, hot-air ballooning and water sports. Its cable cars criss-cross the peaks of the four distinct Courchevel resorts (Courchevel 1850, Courchevel Moriond 1650, Courchevel Village 1550 and Courchevel La Praz 1300) throughout the summer months, making Courchevel property a strong contender as a holiday-rental investment.
However, in recent years we’ve seen the quieter village resorts such as La Tania, Les Allues and Avoriaz grow in appeal to a number of families seeking clean-living ski holidays away from the frenetic pace of modern life, plus wholesome summer opportunities for cycling, boating and tree climbing. Les Allues is a particularly scenic village tucked away beneath the glamorous resort of Meribel, with the likelihood of purchasing a little more luxury chalet for your money too. Avoriaz, meanwhile, is totally car free.
A picture-perfect chalet in The Alps has strong holiday-rental potential
...in the right location
We use our local knowledge in conjunction with market intelligence to analyze the nuances of pricing trends, such as why property appreciates in value when located nearer to some airports than others.
The Alps are a case in point here, since for Courchevel and picture-perfect chalets in Meribel, Geneva is the most reliable of its nearby airports, with several daily flights from the UK (including heavyweight operators such as BA as well as budget airlines) landing here. Given that Geneva is an international financial and diplomatic hub, this is unlikely to alter anytime soon, so while you might invest more in your property now, it’s less likely to depreciate in the future. Additionally, proximity to an airport with a solid offering of flights strengthens your holiday-rental prospects.
Step 2. The buying process - pay attention
As many a buyer would ruefully acknowledge, nasty surprises can occur wherever in the world you choose to purchase property. However, there is definitely an increased risk when attempting to understanding the vagaries of an unfamiliar buying property process (French boundary issues tend to be a specific bugbear) in a different language.
To ensure that your contract is watertight, firstly do your own homework. The UK government website has a comprehensive checklist of what to consider, particularly if you plan to purchase a buy-to-let or an off-plan property in another country.
Secondly, the services of a professional notaire well-versed in French property and tax laws are also advisable. France levies ‘Taxe d’Habitation’ (Local Tax) and ‘Taxe Foncière’ (Land Tax) on property owners and navigating your way around these can initially be complicated.
Remember, your forever home in France will be someone else’s one day
Step 3. The buy/sell lifecycle - keep one eye on the future
In the first flush of romance, you might think you’ve found your forever home in France (like the one pictured above), but we’d always counsel a pragmatic approach to your new property’s marketability too.
Due diligence to all that we’ve outlined in steps one and two will go a long way towards ensuring this but take time to think about further outside influences that could also affect your prospects. For instance, there is a remote possibility that in the future, the French government could prevent the sale of real-estate to non EU nationals in certain areas, such as Paris arrondissements if those districts experience a housing shortage. Depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, this could affect transactions in sterling, say, if you or your heir needed to sell your Paris property and move back to the UK.
While Winkworth International can’t future-proof the French housing market for you, we can help you prevent avoidable mistakes. Contact us if you have any questions about owning French property or would like us to arrange a viewing.
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