Monday, June 16, 2014

Property searching

As well as selling my existing home, I am also starting to search for another apartment - this time away from the coast and in the nearest large town. Despite - or perhaps because of - the slowdown in the French property market there is a huge choice of small apartments of the sort I am looking for. And after a couple of frustrating weeks, literally overwhelmes by the wide selection on officer, I decided that in order to save time - and stay sane - I must revise and stick to my list of requirements. I hope it may help others caught up in a property search. My advice to myself is:

- Accept there is a huge choice, draw up a list of what is acceptable and what is not - and stick to your rules!

 - Best concentrate on one or two selected areas, get to know them through regular visits, and decide if this is where you would actually be happy to live. Visit at different times of day/evening, at weekends, literally check out you possible future neighbours!

- Look at For Sale boards (agents or private sellers), LeBoncoin etc and spend time looking at potential properties from the outside before even arranging a visit, to see how they fit into the area, and may put you off - a noisy street, a bar opposite, absence of parking etc. These are the sort of things you cannot change, and you need to decide if they are unacceptable or you could live with them.

- Look at the general condition of the property - outside painting, state of the front door, are there hastily printed names next to the doorbells indicating high turnover of occupants etc. Look at the state of Windows and curtains, also cars parked outside (always a reliable indicator).

- My practical half tells me I should buy a ground floor property (looking ahead to old age etc) so I tell myself to stop dreaming of attics and lofts!

- How small? How large? Given that every square metre costs money in taxes, charges and heating bills, be realistic about how much space you really need. Maybe now is the ideal time to review how much 'stuff' you own and start paring down your possessions.

- Looking ahead, just in case, is the property resellable? I like atypical properties - former shops or workshops, lofts etc - but atypical properties need atypical buyers if you have to sell in the future.

- Agents' d├ętails often miss out the most important things and even before visiting you need to have your own checklist - what floor is the property on, taxes, management charges, future works planned for which you will have to pay, are the building managers a large company or is the property managed by a group of volunteer residents?

And when you finally get to look Inside:

- Remember that floors, walls and ceiling can be changed; a new kitchen or bathroom installed - factor in these potential costs.

Good hunting!