Five Questions with a Property Finder

Happy New Year, Bonne Année and Bonne Santé

This is going to be a very busy year if the first few days of 2019 are any indication; I currently have so many enquiries that it feels as if half of the UK population has decided to move to France. I think we can probably all guess why but my New Year’s resolution (or one of them) is to mention that as little as possible…

So, in the light of current enquiries, I thought I would post this interview I did for a French Property magazine as it answers many of the questions I am being asked right now and hopefully explains the service I offer to help you find your dream home out here in the foothills of France. Of course you are welcome to contact me with your own questions or to discuss your own property search:

Where in South-West France are you based?

I am based on the border of the Haute Garonne and the Ariège, located an hour south west of Toulouse in the Ariège national park and the foothills of the Pyrénées mountains; it is one of the most unspoiled and authentic regions of France with stunning scenery and pretty villages set against the stunning backdrop of snowy peaks.

What sort of people hire a property finder?

I work with a wide and varied clientele from all over the world, each with their own specific criteria and requirements. Nationalities of my clients include British, Australians, South Africans, Americans, Danish, Canadian and Russian. Every client’s brief is different; some are looking for holiday homes, others are relocating with young families and hence require information on schools and local facilities while others are retiring and need advice on local communities and investing their nest egg wisely. I also have a fair number of clients looking for ski properties to make the most of the fantastic and very good value ski resorts in the Pyrénées. Many of my clients have already spent a great deal of time looking, unsuccessfully, for their dream home, which is why they come to me and others are only too aware that they cannot afford the time and costs involved in a really thorough property search at a distance and hence hire me to do all the time-consuming and costly research for them. All of my clients want to have a professional on their side (just as the seller does) to ensure that they find the very best property for them at the very best price. Every single one of my clients, once installed in their new home in France, has told me that I saved them a huge amount of money and effort and that they would never have found exactly what they were looking for without me which is always really nice to hear after a long and detailed search.

What attracts people to your area?

Where do I start? It has become a cliché to say that an area offers something for everyone but I think it is true to say that it would be hard to find another region that ticks so many boxes for so many people. For nature lovers, this area is just teeming with unspoiled natural environment and a huge variety of fauna and flora while for sporting types, this same environment provides the perfect location for walkers, cyclists, canoeists, horse riders plus, in winter, there are numerous excellent ski resorts for all levels, most of which are an easy drive away from just about anywhere within my area. Most of my clients are, of course, francophiles and there is ample opportunity to enjoy the wonderful food and wine of the region, numerous local markets such as that in St Girons which attracts people from miles around and the usual wide selection of restaurants serving local produce. In addition, we have, within an hour, the region’s capital, Toulouse which is a thriving and fashionable metropolis with all the culture, arts and shopping that anyone could want. An added bonus is that this region is perfectly located to make the most of Spain on the doorstep, an easy day trip away and to enjoy the best of both the Atlantic and Mediterranean beaches which are both around two hour’s drive.

What sort of budgets do your clients have?

There is a common belief that property finders are only for those with very large budgets but that is not the case in reality. I have worked with clients with budgets from €150,000 – €2m and I will take on any search as long as my clients have realistic expectations as to what their budget will buy.

What sort of properties are available in your area?

This is another advantage of the region; we have such a wide selection of properties here ranging from small village houses, to sprawling farmhouses and from renovation projects to ski apartments or mountain barns to Manoirs and Châteaux. However, what I have discovered from the last 15 years of living and working in this region is that, very often, we do not buy the property we think we are looking for when we begin our property search. House hunting is, in reality, not something you can do on paper or on the internet because, although in theory, we might think we know what we are looking for, in reality a house can tick every box on that check list and still not be ‘the one’ while another property may not meet any of the requirements and yet could well end up as the house you decide to call home. The process needs to evolve which is where I come in, to tease out the actual requirements that fit both a client’s wish list and their actual lifestyle and to point out the cons as well as the pros of each property (an agent is very good at doing the latter but will very rarely do the former!) Finding the right house in France is about so much more than the actual bricks and mortar and a big part of my job is not only finding the right property for my clients but also the right location whether that be close to the best schools, best restaurants, best transport networks, best ski resorts, best doctors and all and any of those aspects of daily life that you can only discover either by living here or by working with someone who lives here.



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