Would you recognize your perfect house on first viewing? Most people don’t



If you are looking for the perfect house in France, it doesn’t exist. But the property that has the potential to be your perfect house does exist – as long as you get the basics right in your initial search. When I am searching for a house for a client, I concentrate on the elements of the brief that concern the ‘unchangeables’ and the non-negotiables which does not mean ignoring what can be changed, rather elevating these aspects to a positive while a property with a negative that can’t be changed means that it won’t even make the long-list and certainly never the short-list.

There are plenty of things that you can change about a property such as décor, furnishings, a dark interior (this is pretty much the standard for French houses around here thanks to dark beams, dark walls and dark wood furniture but paint everything white and you have a different house completely), the outside space (eventually something beautiful can be created from any patch of wasteland, plot of bare earth or even concrete terrace), the layout and even size of the rooms, the windows, the shutters, the form of heating, even the location of the pool.

There are also, however, plenty of aspects of a property that definitely cannot be changed and these are the elements that I look out for when viewing a house:

No farm or factory too close (noise/smells)

No motorway within hearing or sight

Not on the edge or close to a busy road

No noisy neighbours (e.g with a kennel for hunting dogs in the garden)

No right of way or access through the garden or driveway

No obvious serious structural problems

Original features still in situ (albeit sometimes hidden or covered up)

Nothing objectionable in the view

Good aspect and orientation

Good proximity to an airport and accessibility to transport links and to a large city/town

Great potential whatever the current state

Most of these are tied up with that old truism that both the location and the position of the house are vital; you cannot pick up a house and move it and I have seen many nice properties that I rule out immediately because of some or all of these elements.

That said however, keep in mind that, if it is only changeable aspects of a property that means it is not instantly your dream home, then this is the time that it is worth being flexible and perhaps deciding that you are in fact prepared to do some renovation work even though your original brief was for a ready-to-move-into house (if you have a property finder, they will be able to recommend builders/architects and local artisans to help you undertake any work). If it is just redecoration that is needed to lighten and brighten a house, then even better; it never ceases to amaze me how much a lick of paint can transform a property inside and out. If the garden is horrible, I can find you someone to make it beautiful and if you want to move the kitchen from the back to the front of the house and create a beautiful terrace, this is also something I can arrange for you so it does not need to be a deal-breaker that the rooms are the wrong way around. If the house speaks to you, it is worth keeping your options open.

We all have our dream property in our head; that perfect house which already includes every element on our wish list and ticks every box but it does only exist in our head. However, once you know that all the unchangeable aspects are as you want them, it is exactly this imagination that will turn this almost perfect house into your dream home for real. Otherwise, you might be hunting for that dream home forever.

If you need help with your search, get in touch: nadia@foothillsoffrance.com

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