Finding ‘the one’

For those who missed it, here is my last article published in FrenchEntrée magazine:


Everyone has their own reason for loving France and wanting to own a piece of it but I find that most of my clients have a couple of things in common; either they are too far away to do their own property search or they have already been looking for the perfect house for a long time and have been unable to find it despite hours trawling the internet or endless viewings trips to see houses which turn out to be completely unsuitable.

I sometimes wonder how anyone manages to buy a house in this region without using a property finder. I live and work here,I know all the agents and I know the region inside out and still the whole process of finding and getting to see the right property is sometimes a bit like trying to get blood out of a stone.

Last week, I went in to see an agent because I had noticed that he was advertising a new property which looked very interesting for one of my current clients (there is no point just telephoning – everything works better face-to-face here.) The property – a mountain barn – appeared to fit my brief but the most important thing that I wanted to find out was where it was situated, location as we all know being the vital element, especially for mountain properties. The agent told me in which valley it was located (one of my favourite) and then suggested I could go and take a look and pointed a finger at a map as a vague illustration as to where I might find it.

I have fallen for this ploy before – and then spent a few frustrating hours trying to work out exactly which isolated barn I am supposed to be looking at. So I suggested that maybe he could even take me to see the property and perhaps take along a key so I could look inside. Eventually I managed to persuade him to make an appointment for a viewing at 2pm the following day. Of course, the next day he didn’t turn up and I had to go through the whole process of finding a time and making an appointment again, something that is not uncommon when house hunting here.

I did eventually get to view the property and it turned out to be very much worth the effort; two well-looked after barns, one of which had been renovated completely, in a great plot of land with lovely views and very peaceful. There was even vehicle access which is certainly not a given for many of these mountain properties. The majority of houses I visit, however, do not come up to scratch – I usually see at least ten properties for every one that makes it to a property report. Normally I will view up to 50 – 80 properties during one search, of which only around eight are likely to reach the short-list. The reason that many do not make it is that, as anyone who has done any house hunting in france knows, many estate agents are very good and imaginative photographers, expert at cropping out the less salubrious aspects of the immediate vicinity and hence photos do lie. This is why it helps to be local, to know the lie of the land, know what to look out for, what price a property should be and to be close enough to view every property which might just prove to be ‘the one’.

For this client, I now have a very strong short-list. I am just in the process of organising a viewing schedule for them. All they have to do is turn up for three days, knowing that I have done all the preliminary work, research and viewings for them and will take them around and organise every element of the search and buying process for them. They are all great properties and I am looking forward to seeing which one these clients are going to choose.

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