Monday, 30 December 2013

The main differences between house buying in England and France

The main differences between house buying in England and France

This post is a humorous take on our personal experience of the house hunting process in the area of Brittany that we bought in, and was my entry in a writing competition. (I also came 2nd so thank you to everybody for voting)

I am aware that in other areas of France the process may be different and this post was not intended to offend in any way, but just give a lighthearted view into the buying process (and to warn any potential buyers about the garden/land issue!)

The top 5 differences between French and English estate agents

You may think that this is a strange topic to be writing about, after all selling a house is selling a house, can it really be that different?

And the simple answer is yes!

You really don’t notice the difference until you start to search for your dream property, and I would like to share the biggest differences and spill the beans on the terminology used in France (this may just be Brittany, but somehow I don’t think it is!).

Difference number 1

A beautiful garden

UK translation – you will step out of the house into a beautiful garden

French translation – you will buy a garden, but this is not necessarily anywhere near your house. The house you are buying may indeed be photographed with a beautiful garden, but this garden may actually belong to your neighbour. Your garden may be up the road, around the corner and next on the left! This was not something we found out until we spent a week in France viewing properties; we had asked for a garden or some land, we did not know that we had to ask for it to be attached to the property.

Word of warning number 1 – Ask where your garden is!

Difference number 2

Requires a little updating

UK translation – needs a little bit of updating

French translation – requires a bathroom, a kitchen and possibly one or more walls, floors or roof adding, and no, this is not an exaggeration! We viewed a number of properties that required a ‘little bit of updating’ one of these properties was so derelict that there was no way you could move into it, even the local wildlife were too afraid to enter it. On this occasion we had an extremely enthusiastic estate agent (who had given us torches to use and gallantly held the rickety, wobbly ladder required to get to the first floor) who was ever so excited about how we lucky we were, as we could add the bathroom of our dreams just here, and that it could be off the master bedroom that we could build just there, and once the walls were made secure we could add the window back into the original stone opening and the whole place would look amazing and how, as we didn’t have to make do with somebody else’s choices, we could really make the place our own.

Word of warning number 2 - Be very clear how much work you want to do on a property

Difference number 3

The photographs that are used

UK photographs – the house is dressed and shown at its best

French photographs – nothing in the house is cleared away and it appears to be mandatory to have a clothes maiden, complete with clothes, in the bathroom. Not just anywhere but actually blocking the view of the bathroom so that the clothes maiden is all that you really see. The beds must not be made and if possible, be covered in lots of clutter; again clothes seem to be a popular choice. In the kitchen, worktops must not be cleared, remember clutter is key!

In France it also appears to be a requirement that the person taking the photographs must have no knowledge of what makes a good photograph, and when taking a photograph of a room, one item, preferably of clutter or an item of furniture (that is not included in the sale) must take up the majority of the shot.

Word of warning number 3 - Try to look past the photographs used to sell the property; you may find a nice surprise

Difference number 4

In a certain town

UK translation – the property will be in that certain town

French translation – the property will be in a 30 km radius of that town, not necessarily anywhere near it, but within a 30 km radius. There is a reason for this ambiguity, in this part of France many properties are left empty, so it is for safety reasons, but when you are looking for a property in a ‘certain town’ be aware that you might be quite a distance away from it.

Word of warning number 4 – Arrange to meet the estate agent and let them drive you to the different properties, you’ll save a fortune in petrol.

Difference number 5

Estate agency opening times

Open 9 – 5.30

UK translation – the estate agent is available all day and may even work in the evening

French translation – the estate agent arrives in the office at 9.30, but this is too early to view a property, 11.30 is also not convenient as the estate agent closes for a two, sometimes even two and a half hour lunch at noon. The estate agent opens again for the afternoon but by 4.30 it is then too late to view a property as they will close at 5 – 5.30.

There are very small windows of opportunity to view a property with a French estate agent, if you get one, jump on it.

Also beware Christmas holidays, summer holidays and the many, many bank holidays that happen in France.

Word of warning number 5 – don’t plan on visiting too many houses in one day, and remember word of warning number 4, use the estate agents car!

No comments:

Post a Comment