Get ahead of househunting in France by following these top tips from our editorial team
- Set your budget
Work out what your budget is before you start viewing properties. How much do you want to spend? Could you afford any extra if you find a property just over budget? Don’t forget to include notaire and agent fees in your budget and think about currency exchange.
- Write a wish list
Think carefully about the property you want to buy and write a list of ‘must haves’ and ‘would like to haves’. What size of property do you need? How much land? Do want to renovate/redecorate or just move straight in? How close to neighbours/shops/transport do you want to be? What things are you willing to compromise on?
- Explore the area
Make sure you explore the area you want to buy in thoroughly. If possible visit in different seasons, on different days and at different times of day. Ideally spend a few days staying in the area to see if it is somewhere you want to live in – places can be very different in the winter!
- Make use of the internet
The internet is a wonderful thing! From the comfort of your own home you can explore the area on Google Street View, work out exactly how far the property is from the nearest airport/shop/bar on Google Maps, search for news stories about your village and look for any community groups… This should help you narrow down your list of properties to view in person.
- Speak to your agent
Talk to your agent and let them know your requirements and budget – they might be able to rule out properties or tell you about properties that you haven’t come across. They will also know if a seller might be persuaded to negotiate on price.
- Go properly equipped
It makes sense to dress comfortably and wear sturdy shoes – you may be exploring uneven gardens, climbing lots of stairs or stepping over broken floorboards in a renovation project. Don’t forget a raincoat or umbrella! Take a notebook to record the pros and cons of the different properties, what you like and don’t like. A camera is an essential tool, it will help you remember all those details that merge together after a few days of property viewings.
- Don’t try and cram too much in
Don’t be tempted to cram in too many viewings each day. Allow plenty of time to travel between properties and to do the viewings themselves. If possible, leave time to explore the immediate area as well.
- Be honest with the agent
As you go through the different viewings, make sure you let the agent know what you like and don’t like, as this will help them to select further properties for you to view.
If you haven’t found a property you want to buy, make sure you give clear and honest feedback to your agent(s), in order for them to ensure any further properties they show you will be suitable.
- Get your finances in place
Ensure your finances are in place before you start viewing properties, and then if you’re lucky enough to find ‘the one’, you can make an offer straight away. It also indicates to the vendor that you are a serious buyer and they will thus be more likely to accept your offer.
Continue your househunting at the French Property Exhibition at Olympia London on 25-26 January where you can browse from hundreds of properties for sale, and attend free and informative seminars covering all aspects of buying in France. Register for free tickets here.