How do you go about finding your dream home in France when you live in another country?
From an abandoned Château with everything to do, to a cute little one-up-one-down that’s ready to move into, everybody’s vision of ‘chez nous’ is unique. For Melanie Atkins from French Connections HCB, it’s a topic that’s dear to her heart.
Let’s start with the question that everybody is asking: is it still possible to move to France after Brexit?
Absolutely yes! There has been a lot of confusion over what is and isn’t possible, but as far as the French government is concerned, British citizens are still very welcome to come and set up home here. The only thing that’s really changed is that if you’re not already resident, you’ll need to apply for a visa if you want to spend more than 90 days in any 180 days living in France. Here at French Connections, we can help with that as well as helping you to find your ‘chez nous’.
Where is the best place to live?
Some people have been coming to France for years and have a very firm idea of where they want to settle and what sort of property they’re looking for. Others are setting off on the adventure of a lifetime and are open to all possibilities. The best approach is to line up some properties to visit in areas that interest you, then come over for a visit and get the feel of the place. That’s where we can help.
What’s your favorite part of France?
That’s a difficult question! I’ve travelled widely around France because I graduated with a Double Masters in oenology, and my work took me all over the country to different regions to learn about different climates, landscapes, and of course their wines. Personally, I love Pézenas in the Languedoc. It’s beautiful little town with a really arty vibe and only half an hour from the coast – and of course you find lots of wine estates in that region! Avignon is another place I feel very much at home, and La Rochelle, which feels like you’re on holiday all year round. Where to set up home is a very personal decision and that’s what makes it so exciting.
Is it difficult to buy a property in France?
In many ways it’s easier than buying in the UK, because there is no chain of buyers and sellers. In France, it’s a much simpler process. Most people buy through an estate agent or directly from the seller, but either way a Notary is involved. Sometimes the same Notary will act for both parties, but it’s more common for buyer and seller to have their own. The challenge for people who don’t speak the language is that all legal documentation must be in French. That’s where having a partner like French Connections HCB can be really advantageous.
How do you help people who are thinking of buying?
We always start with a free consultation, where you can talk about your project and the things that are important to you. When you’re looking for a new home, it’s not just a question of how many bedrooms you need, but all the other things that make life meaningful. For example, do you see yourself in a village with neighbours you can get to know? Or are you thinking of somewhere more isolated and private, perhaps with land? Do you want to be within walking distance of a boulangerie, or have an airport close by? Priorities are different for every client.
If I want to go ahead, what’s the next step?
Before starting our search, we ask for a holding deposit. Once that is in place, you are introduced to the rest of the team on a zoom call and the search begins! We keep you fully updated with details of properties we think you’ll love and when there’s something you’d like to visit, we make the appointment for you. If language is a problem, we can join you via telephone video link. For an additional fee, we can even accompany you in person or visit properties on your behalf. When you’ve made a decision to buy, we organise a condition report, advise you on price negotiation, gather together all necessary paperwork and provide translations of legal documents so you know exactly what you are signing. To guarantee the security of your purchase, we recommend known and trusted Notaires who have looked after property matters for our founder Richard’s family for the past 35 years.
On completion we also offer, completely free of charge, a two-hour consultation with our experienced financial advisor, Simon, and the chance to ‘re-imagine’ one room in your new home with our 3D in-house graphic designer, Juliette.
How far ahead should people start looking?
It’s never too soon to start the conversation. Our initial consultation is free and it can provide you with a useful time frame, so if buying in France is your goal, just click this link to book an online appointment and we’ll help you get your foot in the door.