1- Get timing right and don’t get in too late into a market that is overvalued and likely to peak
2- Diversify your assets to reduce risk
Other bargains to be had are properties in need of redecoration or renovation and where you can highlight this to negotiate the price, especially if it has been a long time on the market.
On the fun side, redecorating a villa in the south of France, browsing around local brocanteurs is a great hobby. It’s certainly more exciting than renovating terraced houses in Liverpool.
If you rent the house over just 6 weeks in July and August, you can a get 3% return from rental income on your investment. And if you are concerned on French wealth tax, it only applies over 1.3M Eur and only on your French assets initially, Use of a mortgage can keep your assets below that threshold, and mortgage rates are currently at all-time lows, between 2% and 3%.
Price watching is a national sport for many - when you own a house owner, you watch your capital increase with glee, or if you are a buyer, you nervously watch prices climb and hesitate when to get onto the bandwagon.
An alternative if you are living in an expensive town like London is to rent property next to your work, and commute weekends to your home in the south of France. I did this for over 10 years with my house in the Var. The best times were when I was home working 3 weeks a month. I had to be very discrete with colleagues, about where I was calling them from, sitting with my laptop in the shade of an olive tree by the pool. As the French say: Il faut vivre caché pour vivre heureux.