Following your dreams and avoiding nightmares when buying in France


I was recently lucky enough to be invited to share a delicious coupe de champagne with a very happy couple, newly ensconced in their beautiful home here in the Midi-Pyrénées. The champagne was to celebrate the realisation of a long-held dream and the start of a new adventure for my clients who had finally found their perfect house. They contacted me last year to ask for my help to find and buy a property out here in the Haute Garonne region of France. Their brief was similar to many of my clients; they were looking for that classic French house, a traditional stone building with lots of character, plenty of original features, wooden shutters, a bit of land, lovely views and in a peaceful and beautiful location where they could enjoy an excellent quality of life.

They had both always dreamed of living in France and they had talked about it many times. But each time they seriously considered making the move, something seemed to happen that persuaded them to put if off for another year whether it was a fall in the exchange rate, worry about moving the children, not speaking good enough French or that they wouldn’t fit in. Now both in their 50s, they were determined to finally fulfil that dream before it became a regret. They both have flexible jobs that can be done from a distance, albeit with occasional trips back for meetings and their children are grown up with lives of their own. There was really nothing to stop them making the move – except perhaps fear. But they have now admitted that it was exactly this fear of the unknown which had prevented them taking the plunge year after year and they decided not to let this fear control their lives any longer; it was time to turn that dream into reality.

Of course taking the plunge and following a dream is not the same as being foolish and taking unnecessary risks which is why they decided to hire me to ensure they had considered all the options and possible pitfalls as well as the opportunities. When you choose this lovely part of France, you are buying a way and quality of life not just a property investment and a ‘good buy’ means more than just getting a bargain. It is also easy to have your head turned and your heart stolen by something you wouldn’t even consider in your own country.

As always, before beginning the search, I took a very detailed brief which included questions about how they imagined their dream house but also covered practical aspects and how they live in their home in reality (most people only use a tiny percentage of their house on a daily basis.) When dream and practicals didn’t really tally, we discussed in more detail. For example, although they were picturing a very rural property, on further questioning it turned out that they have both always lived in villages and towns and liked the sense of community. Hence living in the middle of nowhere would make integrating much more difficult (as well as commuting for work) so, on reflection they asked me to look for properties that were in striking distance of a market town but also easily accessible to Toulouse airport. We also discussed in detail the size of the house, the ideal layout, whether they would be welcoming lots of friends and family (yes definitely) and how much garden they really thought they could manage. They had a clear wish-list but were realistic enough to know that there would always be some compromises needed and that their perfect house might not necessarily exist but that it could be created as long as the location and unchangeable details of a property were right for them.

The exciting bit was when they were able to come out and view their short list. This I put together after a few weeks of searching, having viewed all the houses on the market that seemed to match their criteria (eliminating 80% of them that didn’t in reality or had potential problems). They appreciated having me working for them, with their needs and interests in mind and offering impartial advice rather than feeling they were being shown houses by agents working for the seller. I was also able to show them houses being sold privately and those not even on the open market.

They completed last week and I was privileged to be their first visitor in what I’m sure will prove to be a very happy home. It is never to late to follow your dreams; just make sure you have a professional helping you through the process so that those dreams become a wonderful reality and not a nightmare.

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