How much is the house really worth?

One of the main concerns when deciding to buy a house in another country is that it is much more difficult to work out if the price that you are paying is the right price. In France, it is particularly complicated to get an accurate picture.

Firstly, you are likely to see a property advertised at different prices by numerous different agencies. Secondly, particularly in rural France, it is difficult to compare the price to similar houses sold locally as most properties are very different from each other and they also do not change hands very often. Thirdly, there is no set formula for valuing property in France. Finally, on the internet, there are thousands of properties listed for sale; numerous beautiful shots of tightly cropped and apparently very cheap houses, giving the impression that property in France is incredibly cheap – a story that the press also love, especially at this time of year (trade in your flat in Peckham for a Chateau in France).

Well property in this region is certainly very good value but I think that many people window shopping for houses in agencies or online this summer are likely to be disappointed if they are thinking that they will be able to pick up something for almost nothing. In my experience, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. So, how do you know that the price is right when viewing a property in France?

  1. Make sure you look at lots of houses advertised in the same area and get a feel for prices and what you can get for your budget. If the property is far more expensive than anything similar in the area then it has probably been priced at that level by the owners rather than an estate agent or Notaire who will have a better idea of the real value. You need to be particularly wary of private sales for this reason.
  2. View a house very thoroughly and preferably go back and view it a second time. Often a second viewing shows up details that you didn’t notice the first time, especially if you loved it as soon as you walked through the door on the first viewing. If a second viewing is not possible, make sure you take lots of photos and go through these again carefully the next day to make sure you haven not missed something obvious.
  3. If you view a house that ticks most of your search criteria boxes, this property is most likely worth your budget, especially if a large part of your motivation in buying in France is a lifestyle choice. You will know if a house is going to offer the quality of life you are looking for and this is hard to put a price on.
  4. Work out how much work it will need to make this house into the home you are looking for. Get an idea of how much you think you will need to spend on it and decide if it matches your budget and the region’s prices.
  5. it may be a cliché but it is a true one, that the location is the most important element in assessing the price. If the house is in a good location, one that is always in demand, if it has good views and good access, near mountains or coast and close to a nice town or city, then it will generally be worth what you pay for it because there will always be someone else who wants this same location.

Above all, if you love the house the minute you walk through the door; in other words if it has that something special, that wow factor and it is within your budget, then it is most likely worth paying the price.

Dare I say that, of course, the very best way of ensuring that you are only paying what a property is worth and not a penny more is, of course, to employ a property finder…



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