At Healey Fox we spend a lot of time talking to clients about
houses and sometimes it is difficult to get them to move away from focusing on
specific properties and to look at the bigger picture. I guess it is always
exciting to fantasise about beautiful character cottages, glamorous villas and
especially little stone buildings for restoration but sometimes I talk with clients
who I just feel will never take the plunge to go out to France to look at real
life properties, to move away from sunny day pictures, to move away from the
dreams and to touch base with reality.
However, planning a viewing trip is not only an essential prelude
to buying your dream property it is also something that it is vitally important
to get right. None of us have time and money to waste on badly planned trips.
After years spent in helping clients to find and buy homes in
France I believe that we, at Healey Fox, have a pretty good idea of how to make
your viewing trip successful. Years ago I remember talking with clients who had
visited France every school holiday for four or five years, according to my
reckoning that could be more than twenty trips. They even prided themselves on
having a database with every property they had ever seen. Five years on, they
were still searching for the right property and I have a feeling that if I
could find them now, they would still be looking!
So as I see it the essentials are:-
- Ensure your chosen area offers you what you want
from a lifestyle point of view as well as having a good selection of properties
that suit you within your budget. France
is an enormous country with a huge diversity of climate and landscape. It has
mountains, hills, flat lands, lakes, rivers, lots of sea, huge areas of empty
spaces, pretty villages, bustling towns and delightful cities. The
possibilities are endless but talking with everyone involved in the purchase to
identify what everyone wants from an area is really important before you make a
trip to view houses.
- Consider ease of access from wherever you are in
the UK. The time and the costs of any journey might affect the frequency of
your trips if it is a holiday home you intend to buy, or of friends visiting if
you are planning a full time move.If you would like to
talk about the right part of France for your needs please call us. We have years of experience of living and working
in France which we are happy to share with you.
- Most of our clients hope to find their property using the services of an Estate
Agent. Our advice would be to make sure you use a bi-lingual agency. However,
good your French language skills, unless you are bi-lingual it is safer to work
with someone who you can properly communicate with. All Healey Fox partner
agents in France are French and English speaking and are used to helping
English people with their property searches. There are cultural differences in
the way that English and French buyers go about choosing a house and it as well
to work with someone who has an understanding of the cultural differences.
- Be wary of working with too many agents.
You will find generally that the more agents in an area you make appointments
with the worse the service will be. Local agents know each other, they often
compare notes and if they know that you have appointments with many of their
competitors they may see you as being 'not a serious buyer' and give you less
time and show you less good houses. There is no point in them showing you all their
best properties if you are likely to have another week of appointments before
you are able to make a decision. By the time you are ready to decide, the house
may well have sold. Better for, the agent to show it to a local person who does
not buy in the same way that many English people tend to.
- So, having chosen a couple of good agents in the right area, make sure they
understand your property requirements before your visit so that they can
arrange the necessary appointments. I think it is best to arrange to see only
one agent each day, even if you are going to spend just half a day with them.
Take it from me, there is very little as exhausting as house viewing in a
foreign country. There is a good reason why on all the TV programs they only
look at two or three houses a day. It really becomes impossible to distinguish
one house from another at the end of a long and possibly hot, day. It is also
useful to have spare time to look around the immediate vicinity of any property
you might be considering and to check out local amenities
- And other handy hints:-
- Do not spend a lot of time taking photos, it is important to really immerse
yourself in the property. You can take photos and measurements on a second
viewing, but use the first one to get a true feel of the property.
the agent good feedback. Do not pretend to like a house to be polite, it is
much more useful for you and the agent to know exactly what is right and what
is wrong with the property for your needs.
appropriate footwear and outer wear, water and a snack bar can also be useful.
Do not be tempted to drink alcohol during your visits, you could end up making
the wrong decision and almost certainly will end up with a headache.
- Book somewhere comfortable for your stay.
And finally, make sure that the agent
knows your plans. Let them know if you might want a second viewing or if you
would like to see some different houses or let them know if the area and houses
aren't right for you. Remember, the more you communicate the better the service
from the agent is likely to be.
And please, if we at Healey Fox,
have had the pleasure of making your appointments let us know how your
experience was. We will be in touch with you on your return, but if you need
our help while out in France or if you want to discuss your trip, the
properties you saw....maybe even the one you are going to buy before we manage
to get hold of you, we would love to hear from you. HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL VIEWINGS