When looking for a property in France, there are many ways that you can look into.
- Newspapers and magazines, weekly French property newspapers such as De Particulier à Particulier, Le Journal des Particuliers, La Centrale des Particuliers and La Semaine Immobilière, national newspapers in your home country and France (if you’re looking for an expensive property), local magazines, papers and newsheets (which may have private property advertisements), property magazines published by the French estate agent chains (e.g. ORPI), and general retail publications (e.g. Daltons Weekly and Exchange & Mart in the UK).
- Property exhibitions, which can be useful provided you plan your visit, including:a) Checking that a show includes exhibitors offering property in France. b)Drafting a list of information to find and questions to ask. c) Allowing plenty of time and visiting stands in order of priority. d) Following up any useful leads and discarding irrelevant literature.
- The internet, where there are many sites devoted to French property, including those run by French and foreign property agents.
- Discovery tours, which are organised by a number of companies in various regions of France, allowing you to get a feel for an area and the type and prices of properties and maybe see a few properties that are available, although these tours aren’t cheap and you may prefer to arrange your own itinerary (see below). For example, in the UK there’s Bishop & Co. (01761 411116, http://www.bishopandco.co.uk/) and in France Moving to France (04 67 90 78 19, http://www.moving-to-france.com), which currently organises seminars and property tours in Languedoc. A new concept in house hunting is ‘virtual discovery tours’, whereby you’re enabled to ‘tour’ properties on DVD or even via the internet. One company offering this facility is Real Property Tours (http://www.realpropertytours.com).
- Visiting an area. Note that around half of French properties are sold privately and the only way to find out about them is to tour the area you’re interested in, looking for FOR SALE (A VENDRE or sometimes simply AV) signs and asking locals or town hall officials if they know of properties for sale.
- Developers, some of whom sell direct, others via agents in France or abroad. Note that developers needn’t be licensed to sell property.
- Property traders (marchands de biens).
- Estate agents (see below).
Make sure you avoid national holidays when visiting France on a house hunting trip. These include 1st January, Easter Monday, 1st and 8th May, Ascension Day (sixth Thursday after Easter), 14th July, 15th August, 1st and 11th November, and 25th December. Also avoid the day before/after a holiday if it falls on a Tuesday/Thursday.
If you go house hunting in France, remember to take a calculator (to work out how few Euro you will get for your money), a mobile phone that works in France (and a charger and plug adapter), a camera and/or video camera, and instructions for remotely accessing your home answerphone, as well as a notepad, maps and contact numbers.
This article is an extract from Buying a home in France. Click here to get a copy now.