In this month's issue I look at ways in which buyers of homes in France can hang on to their property, during a time of recession and when many owners contemplate selling-up and returning home. This is often not the best solution, particularly at a time when the market is depressed and there may be a glut of secondhand properties for sale. Even heavily discounting the selling price may not be sufficient incentive to off-load a property quickly if other factors are present which prevent a quick sale - poor location, state of repair, size and disposition of rooms etc.
Instead I suggest ways of reducing costs, and looking at the possibility of letting a second home long-term or for the summer season. There is still a good rental market for the right type of property in the right location - larger family homes close to public transport and conurbations where people travel to work, studios and smaller apartments in university towns, and holiday rentals on the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts. Property seekers and workers on temporary assignment are also potential users of furnished rented accommodation over the short and medium term.
Downsizing is not always a cost-effective option, due to high transaction costs in France. If you are thinking of selling one property and buying another, you need to facor in two sets of agency fees (5 - 10 per cent of the sale/purchase price) and the Notaire's fees and other costs (around 7% of the purchase price). You may find that you are spending 20,000 euros or more - money that is not recoverable or reflectded in tangible assets such as a home extension or a new kitchen! - just to make the move, when it might be wiser to stay put and wait for the market to improve.