Are you lusting after the idea of owning a rural property in France, but not sure how and where to start your search? WT asks the advice of French property finders, Country Homes France

How does Country Homes France work? “Country Homes France work in partnership with a network of independent French estate agents, built up over many years and mostly family run, this enables us to provide a personalised service to our clients. Our service starts from the initial contact to discuss property search requirements, advice with property selection, arrange viewing appointments, assist with offer negotiation, through to the purchase completion. We have extensive knowledge of French regions and are happy to share this with our clients to provide them with as much information about properties and their search criteria.” 

What do you specialise in? “Country Homes France specialise in country and village property from barns and houses to renovate, through to fully renovated country houses, manor houses and small chateaux. Our clients may be looking for a second home, retiring or making a permanent move to France to enjoy the French lifestyle and climate. Many of those looking to relocate to France are seeking a home with income potential and a house with gite accommodation is often the first choice – we have helped many clients who are now running successful gite businesses.”

Which regions prove the most popular? “The most popular regions to purchase a property in France fall into two categories. For those who want to have easy access or be close to the UK, then the regions of Normandy, Brittany, Picardy and the Pas de Calais are the natural choices and where it is still possible to buy a renovated 2-4 bedroom home for €125,000. For those looking to be further south, the most popular regions are the Charente, Charente-Maritime, Dordogne, Garonne, Lot and Lot et Garonne areas that enjoy a good year-round climate and which currently offer very good value for money and regular flights to the UK.” 

Do French properties tend to hold their value? “French properties tend to hold their value and have always appreciated over a longer period than in the UK. Prices in France did suffer following the global financial crisis in 2008 and have remained level since. However last year there were a record number of property sales in France and we continue to see an upturn in confidence and property demand from both French and UK buyers which will ultimately have a positive effect on property values. At the present time prices in France still represent very good value for money.”

How do you go about getting a mortgage for a property in France? “Country Homes France have worked in partnership for many years with a Paris-based mortgage broker who works with the major French banks and lenders (UK banks will not lend against a property in France) and who we are happy to recommend to clients. Mortgages are available for both permanent and second homes and interest rates are comparable with those in the UK. Our partners are English speaking and are able to give pre-agreement indications before you make a viewing trip so that you are in a position to offer on your new home in France during your visit if you wish.”   

Has Brexit affected the rules and regulations surrounding buying a property in France? “Buying a property in France will always be possible, and the French have no wish to place unnecessary obstacles in the way, however some of the rules and regulations will change with regard to owning property in France following Brexit. For a permanent move to France, UK passport holders will need to obtain a residents permit which we understand can be applied for online from July 2020 and before July 2021. For second home owners using their property less than 90 consecutive days per year there are no changes. For those wanting to use their property for more than 90 days and less than 180 days it may be necessary to apply for a visitor’s visa similar to the ESTA form when visiting the USA.” 

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Cost Cutters – Discounts for over 60s

The National Trust offer senior members a concession of 25 per cent off their adult rates. If you’re 60 or over and you’ve held an individual or joint membership for at least five of the last ten years, you’ll be eligible for the reduced fee.

English Heritage offer a variety of reduced rates – Adult & Senior (1 adult under 65 and 1 senior over 65), Joint Senior (2 adults aged 65+), Senior Individual and Senior Lifetime. Plus, membership includes six accompanying children per adult member

Over 60s can claim a large chunk off the cost of lifetime membership of Royal Horticultural Society at £835 for Individual (usually £1,395) and £1,255 for Joint (usually £1,945)

Kino Hawkhurst & Rye: Seniors 60+ can save £1 per ticket on the regular adult price

Everyman Cinemas offer off-peak senior citizen concessions for 60+ at all their cinemas. Silver Screen is a weekly matinee screening of a current release for film fans aged 55 and over. Ticket prices include a free hot drink and a slice of cake!

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