With many houses in need of renovation, there are no shortages of potential projects in the region. Could that be your next revenue generation scheme ?
If you thought a modern style house could not have character, then check this house in the Var near Flayosc, and relax with the volume switched on !
Houses like this are excessively rare and this house sold very quickly. Your best chance of getting a similar house is to get a well proportioned Provencal house in a good situation and renovate it. We can help you find houses with potential and put you in touch with experts in renovation. At the end of the day, that investment will give you significant capital appreciation!
With many houses in need of renovation, there are no shortages of potential projects in the region. Could that be your next revenue generation scheme ?
Our pick of great videos includes these ones of the Nice to Monaco corniche and yachting in St Tropez.
Beautiful footage and video of the regatta "Voile de St Tropez", when 300 yachts converge in the Autumn in the gulf of St Tropez:
Plus the excellent French program "Racines et des ailes" describing the history and origin of St Tropez:
The immediate impact on house hunting in France during confinement
With a new confinement period starting again in several European countries, and from this Friday in France, property buyers will not be authorised to view properties, nor to visit estate agents. Instead the French housing ministry encourages buyers and agents to do virtual visits instead. So in the same way workers and companies are required to adapt to home working, or use click and collect internet websites instead of going to supermarkets, property buyers are encouraged to further their search through the internet and the collaborative tools that exist.
Can agents support buyers in a “remote search”?
Property portals and websites are perfect for identifying potential properties of interest. But if you need more details and want to see a house remote, today not many French agents are equipped to run virtual visits. Also, unless they know the buyer is serious, even the agents who could do a virtual visit, will often not be motivated to do so.
On the other hand, a property finder is used to meeting buyers’ requests, as we always work for the buyer rather than the seller. It is normal for a property finder to do upfront visits for clients who do not live locally. Smartfinder Home often check houses in advance, sending a complete set of photos and videos of a property that has been shortlisted by a buyer. In addition, we can also run virtual visits with whatever application you prefer – Facetime, Skype, Teams or Zoom. This way we can show you round a property and answer your questions as we move from room to room, so you can ask us to point the camera in any direction. And if you are concerned at the state of a property, we can take high definition photos and get further advice from professionals.
The 2 other key factors when buying a property
Beyond the style and layout of a property, the 2 key factors in making a buying decision is of course the situation of the property and knowing if it is at market price.
If you know from past visits the area you are searching in, that is ideal. If you do not know the area, google maps and street view are fantastic tools. But they will not indicate the level of road noise nor give you an idea the neighbourhood. Therefore, you need an expert who knows the different areas and can give you realistic view of house prices. And as a property finder is not limited to a portfolio of properties and that objective feedback is given, it is quite evident that there is no better way to find a property, especially in current circumstances.
Smartfinder Home is the only licensed property finder member of the FFCI covering the French Riviera, the Var and Alpes Maritimes – we will be delighted to help you find your dream property in the South East of France even during confinement !
As we are always on the lookout for properties with a unique appeal, here are 2 affordable properties that have that rare combination of a superb +180 degree view as well as a practical and enviable location.
For the best panoramic view over the Provence countryside I have seen in 25 years check our first pick, a large 5 bedroom villa near Lorgues in the Var !
The large and deep terrace overlooks the plain of vines and olive groves below and as far as the hills of Roquebrune and the Maures natural park over 20km away. Very well located 1km from the lively market town of Lorgues with over 40 restaurants, you are also just 40 minutes from Sainte Maxime facing St Tropez and 1 hour from Nice airport.
This well-equipped and spacious property has the living room, open kitchen and master bedroom on the ground floor, all opening onto the south facing terrace with that superb view. Another 3 bedrooms are on the first floor and fifth one is at basement level, all en suite. The pool is surrounded by a lovely stone wall in a totally private setting, so you have the choice of where to celebrate with friends and taste the famous rosé from the local vineyards.
Our next pick is a superb bright apartment on the west of Nice facing south west over the Baie des Anges and the Cap d'Antibes. Every early morning you can admire how the city lights fade away as the sun rises or admire amazing sunsets in the evening as the lights come on over the West of Nice and for over 20km all along the coast.
Recently renovated, the living room and open kitchen open onto the south and west facing terrace. The 3 ensuite bedrooms also open onto the outside terrace. The property also has garage and a pool in the residence with shops just walking distance from this superb luxury well maintained building. Check out the photos of this spacious and practical 120m2 apartment, just 15 minutes to the city centre, 10 minutes from Nice airport, right next to the Botanical gardens.
So why not make these your next homeworking base !
Villas now preferred to hotels - Following deconfinement and the frustration of many city dwellers deprived of space, there has been a huge increase in demand for rental of houses with gardens and a pool. In the South of France, client requests have literally doubled in August compared to 2019, and in every segment. Sotheby’s in Monaco or the Leboncoin website at both ends of the spectrum have seen the same surge in interest. But luxury hotels on the coast due to travel restrictions are having difficulties getting reservations.
Holiday rental websites - We have listed on the rental listings page some of the top holiday rental websites covering the French Riviera and Provence verte. A useful website that lets you search across several of the largest rental sites like AirBnb and Homelidays/Abritel from a single location is likibu.com.
For personal advice, if you would to get information on the best holiday rentals and areas in the region, please contact us and we will pleased to advise you. For luxury villa rentals we also can run a dedicated search and pick precisely the best rental meeting your criteria.
A new lifestyle ? Renting in a villa in the sun may be a good way of testing a new lifestyle of home working from a distance. Although in many office jobs, this has been a possibility for years, employers had been reluctant to let their employees work for too long remotely. But now as they have been forced to do this because of Covid 19, mentalities are changing fast, helped as well by the sudden realisation that this could also save businesses expensive office space. This new level of trust in homeworking can be a huge opportunity to shift from expensive centrally located city apartments to spacious houses in a rural setting.
300 days of sunshine ! So why not jump further still to Provence or the Cote d’Azur and get the sun as well as the space ! And with Nice as the second largest airport in France after Paris, means you can fly to over 100 destinations direct, including New York, Dubai and Peking. This is why the area within 1 hour of Nice airport has attracted research centres and science parks and why so many exhibition venues are held between Cannes, Nice and Monaco. So if you come here and are not retired yet, you can tell your boss it won’t be only for the Rosé !
On March 17th, French authorities took the unprecedented decision to almost shutdown France and confine people in their homes, as the only way of dealing with the covid 19 epidemic,.
Like in many countries this is a particularly difficult time, with the most fragile and elderly particularly exposed. We hope that the authorities quickly apply the best policies to control the epidemic !.
What is impact on the French property market ?
The immediate impact is to freeze the property market, as all estate agents have closed even if they remain available by phone or email.
So all house visits and sales are on hold and are delayed until after the end of confinement.
This week confinement has been extended to the 15th of April, so 4 weeks in total, and if the number of victims does not start to drop, it will likely be extended into May.
This 2 months lockdown will clearly reduce the number of transactions this year and probably over the rest of the year too due to the impact on personal and public finances.
If we check what happened in the last Financial crisis in 2008, property prices in the South of France stopped rising as you can see in the graph below.
The French social system in 2008 tended to cushion the effect of the economic downturn.
This time, combined with the support by the Central European bank, a more solid banking system and lessons learnt from the previous crisis should also help contain the downturn.
Also the underlying demographic trend in the South of France is a steady increase of people moving to the area and settle in the sun, so in the medium term prices should remain stable.
There may be more amateurs considering homeworking from a villa in the South of France following this period where companies have been obliged to accept homeworking !
Confinement was far easier for lucky homeworkers who could see the effect of springtime in their gardens compared to those confined in small city apartments.
Whatever your real estate project is, we will pleased to advise and will respond to you and answer any questions you may have if you are considering moving to France. During this period we can still run a property search and in certain circumstances also arrange virtual visits. Contact us so we can help you be the first on the spot when the market starts again.
When purchasing an apartment that you will be using as a second home, it makes sense financially to rent it out when it is unoccupied. And in Nice and Cannes there is no shortage of tourists and business travellers who are interested in short term rentals.
Why Cannes offers better rental opportunities than Nice
How do purchase prices compare ?
Cannes is considered more upmarket and expensive than Nice, yet if you venture just a few hundred meters from the seafront, prices are quite reasonable, at 4000-5000 Eur/m2 instead of 15000 Eur/m2 on the prestigious Croisette.
In Nice, close to the old port or near the central square of Place Massena and Carré d’Or prices can be as high as the Croisette, whereas in the other districts popular for foreign buyers, like Cimiez, Mont Boron or Fabron to the west, prices are also 4000-5000 Eur/m2.
Other key differences between Nice and Cannes
But the choice depends finally depends on the buyer and if you prefer the larger and livelier city of Nice with its new tram and easy access to the airport, then it makes sense to buy in Nice.
If you prefer a quieter and more secure environment with sandy beaches then Cannes is likely to be your town.
Both towns offer you all the charm and great lifestyle of the French Riviera with its 300 days of sunshine a year !
The return on holiday rentals
You can get up to 4-5% net return on your investment if you choose just the right rental property. Flat tax on property rentals is 30% in France, but there are other options available that depend on your personal tax situation.
Smartfinder Home will be happy to advise and help you find the best rental properties that meet your requirements.
Sanary sur mer, located 20 minutes west of Toulon on the Var coast is a especially picturesque fishing village, rather like Cassis.
Here is a video showing the Christmas lights of Sanary, when even the fishing boats participate in the decoration of the village.
Since Sanary won the competition of the nicest market in France in 2018, most French people have heard of the little port, that was pride of the Provence and Cote d'Azur region.
Here is another video showing the port and town in the daytime.
Next to Sanary is Bandol, which is well known for its excellent rosé, considered the best in Provence.
Discover the coast, the beaches, the town and clear sea with this footage from a drone. It gives you an idea what you can see from a motorboat when cruising in the area:
And to see Sanary right now, go to the webcam: www.sanary-tourisme.com/webcam.html.
Best is to see Sanary between 5 and 6pm French time, just when the sun sets.
Happy New Year to the Smartfinder Home community !
Choice, geography, priorities, projection, due diligence, negotiation - these 6 words summarize the potential traps when a buyer embarks on his house hunting journey.
A book could be written on this subject, but in this article I will focus on just the key mistakes house buyers do and how to avoid them. And to support buyers beyond this article, Smartfinder Home are providing a tailored coaching offering remote via phone and chat.
1- Choice constrained by time
A house hunter is like a fisherman, trawling through property websites. The more time you spend, the better chance you will have of finding the right property. But just like fishing, you have amateurs and professionals, the latter will know where to look and how to do it effectively. Our key advice is:
- Don't limit yourself to looking at just 2-3 property portals. To maximize choice, identify at least a dozen property websites you will monitor and make use of our directory of the top 30 websites with the most adverts.
- Avoid creating alerts that generate unmanageable emails and phone calls, run instead repeat in depth searches every 1-3 weeks on the property portals you are monitoring, and sort the results by date. Ensure your criteria gets you a selection below 100 properties.
- Avoid doing the search on your own and delegate instead. You will save time if you have reliable family or friends to check specific property portals. Alternatively get a property finder like Smartfinder Home to do this work for you.
2 - Geography knowing where to look
Often property searches are too narrow if the buyer limits his search only to areas they have been on holiday. Others are too broad, looking across multiple regions - it is best to focus on your favourite region first. When looking for a permanent home space is important, so consider areas further from the sea front or town centres where you may have been on holiday before. For example, within 1 hour of Nice airport you will access better value properties located inland or west towards the Var.
3 - Priorities to get realistic search criteria
There are many examples of impossible searches, like cheap properties with sea views, large land holding walking distance to a village, etc.. So when you start your search, note down and check your criteria on a property portal without any price limits. You will quickly find out if you are at the very bottom of the quality range. As part of our coaching offer we give you a checklist of all criteria you should consider. This will enable you to prioritize faster and save you pointless visits.
4 - Projection or imagining a different decoration
When confronted with old or poor decoration, instinctively buyers just want to walk away.
If you are ready to redecorate, imagine the property with empty rooms and white walls, like a new build with same layout and openings as the current house. From that mental picture then add elements of your own furniture to get an idea of how the room would be like. If you have an interior designer using software, you can get pictures of what the new interior would look like.
5 - Due diligence and getting documents
Sellers and agents often exaggerate possibilities on extensions or minimize issues. We advise that you check these claims through documents, including information regarding planning rules for extensions, diagnostics, building permit conformity etc...
The French legal process ensures you receive many of these documents when signing the compromis de vente, but that can be too late after you have negotiated the price. So if you have a helpful agent or a property finder, make best use of them to help you through all this information, as French notaires are often too busy to be of any help.
6 - Negotiation and making a sensible offer
If you start off too low or use wrong justifications, you will lose credibility and upset the seller pointlessly. If you make an offer below the asking price because of a budget limit or to ensure you are buying at market value, find out the context of the sale and psychology of the seller.
The level of your initial offer needs to be realistic so check the history of the property regarding past offers/price changes/time on the market. Unless there is an urgent compelling event like a professional move/health issue do not expect +20% price drops. Also sellers will not make an effort on price for a buyer they do not like, so empathy is key as well.
When sending the offer to justify a price drop, do not only highlight weaknesses of the property, but mention also what you like about the property, as appreciation helps sellers be more flexible. You can also get the help of a professional negotiator, and Smartfinder Home provides this via a specific "negotiation mandate" that is results based.
Get Smartfinder Home's new "Coaching for Buyers in France" session now for professional advice adapted to your needs ! With this remote advice you will save yourself weeks of work and ensure you buy at the best price. We also share an extract from our database of property and agency websites, so you can extend your search.
The best property portals covering the French Riviera
From our latest June 2019 check on property portals, we again checked which property websites have the most properties for sale in the Var and the Alpes Maritimes. There have not been major changes in the ranking of top 30 portals since last year, with Seloger and Superimmo in the top 2 places, and in the luxury property segment of +1 million Eur www.luxuryestate.com/france has consolidated its lead. Almost a dozen portals have disappeared, so consolidation is slowly taking place.
Tips for using property portals
To filter through the huge number of properties available, narrowing the list to a small budget and size range can still mean you are looking at several hundred properties if you are looking across a wide area. To filter properties more quickly, think of using good keywords such as sea view or "bastide" or "mas" for traditional houses. You need a good understanding of the words used in property descriptions by French estate agents to pick the right words for your search.
The issues remaining on most property sites
All buyers are frustrated by not knowing exactly where the property is located, and by the incomplete set of photos available. Also some property sites make it hard to select specific areas, and you need to become an expert in local geography to know the names of all the local towns and areas that might meet your requirements. And speaking to agents who focus on just a single area is not of much help, hence the need of an advisor who spans a much wider area like we do at Smartfinder.
The easy option - delegate your search
If you don't want to spend days looking for your dream home on the different property websites, think of delegating your search to a property finder. Most of the time a property finder incurs no additional cost and can save buyers a huge amount of time. Other benefits of using a professional house hunter like Smartfinder Home is getting access to properties early through our network of partners, before they reach the Internet. For these and many other reasons, buyers who have never thought of using property finders, are turning to us.
Here is the Good News for UK buyers in France this month
The one lesson from the 6 months extension to leave the EU agreed this month, is that despite all the speculation of a hard Brexit if May’s Brexit deal gets rejected, the actual alternative is staying longer in the EU. There has never been a majority for a Hard Brexit either in the British parliament or in the population. The reason is most British understand the need to maintain strong trading ties with UK’s neighbours - the geographical position of the UK makes this obvious.
So the future options are:
a) May’s Brexit,
b) A softer customs union Brexit backed by the opposition Labour party
c) Staying in the EU if a second referendum stops Brexit
So at least a messy hard Brexit is not going to happen.
More business friendly options
All the media scare stories on the consequences of Hard Brexit , such as shortages in shops, further drop in the pound’s value, or difficulties in travelling for summer holidays can be put aside. When businesses realize that the uncertainty is between more “business friendly” options, hopefully investment and the normal course of business will resume as well.
The implication for UK house buyers wanting to buy in France
As we said 1 year ago, even in the case of May’s current Brexit deal, the impact will be minimal.
French Residency or buying a house – There are no changes either to residency or house purchase up to the cut-off date of 31st December 2020. The worst case scenario after that would be getting a 1 year Carte de Sejour to become resident like non-EU nationals. As a non-resident you would always have the right to buy a house to use as a holiday home.
Healthcare and pensions – The same rules on residency applies with regards to access to benefits. However it is best to spend at least 6 months in France as resident before the 31st December 2020 cut-off date. Missing the deadline does not mean losing access to these benefits, but there will be more steps and hurdles to go through after Brexit.
Mortgages – It is expected that banks will finance 50-70% of a house purchase by UK nationals after Brexit instead of 80% currently. With historically low interest rates in France, this is an opportunity not to be missed.
Taxation –Bilateral tax treaties in place will continue so no changes are expected. The UK French double tax treaty ensures people are not taxed twice on the same income.
So in the same way people can relocate from non-EU countries such Switzerland and Norway to France, Britons will still be able to buy properties and live in France even if the UK is no longer be part of the EU.
Latest news on the French property market from BFM
The news from INSEE, the French statistics office was that 2018 set a new record year for property sales in France, with 970000 sales excluding sales of new homes, so slightly above the previous record of 2018. The same factors are at work, interest rates for home loans at record lows fueling demand, helping younger buyers buy their first home.
Impact on prices variable across France
High demand combined with fewer properties available have resulted in the highest price increases in Paris and dynamic cities like Lyons, Bordeaux and Toulouse - prices increases were 5-10% per year in those cities over the last 2 years. For the rest of France, after years of stable or declining prices, there has been a 3% per year increase over the last 2 years.
And in the South of France, Provence Alpes cote d'Azur region, for the very first time in years, house prices have risen above 2% in 2018, as the abundant stock of houses on the market are beginning to decline.
What are the Fundamentals for the property market in the South of France ?
In Provence and the French Riviera, the +10 million holidaymakers who come to the region every year are all potential home buyers when they reach retirement or save enough to buy a second home. So the demographic fundamentals look excellent long term.
In the short term scare stories in the media on Brexit are holding back some UK buyers, as are stories on gilets jaunes, but there is not much apetite in 98% population for another French revolution....
And when Macron's announcements on tax cuts get implemented, confidence in the economy and the property market should continue to improve.
So if you were waiting to decide when to buy, don't miss out in 2019 on the exceptionally low interest rates and the start of the property market recovery !
How many gaze through their office windows dreaming of sunshine and the sea ?
In France the answer is 59% of the population dream of moving according to a Yougov study last November.
The largest number, 24% of those wanting to move, want to settle in the PACA region in the South East of France on the Mediterranean shore, between Nice and Marseille. The next most popular area is the South West Mediterranean shore with 20% interested by the Occitanie/Montpellier region, then followed by other regions to the west on the Atlantic shore.
The same study mentioned the highest proportion of those dreaming of a move, 71%, are women under 40 living currently living in the Paris region.
City or country under the sun - the Lifestyle choice is yours
There is a wide choice of areas across the Var and Alpes Maritimes that will certainly meet your preference. Inland in the Var you will find Provence and village lifestyle, yet still within close reach of the sea. By the coast near Nice and Cannes you will benefit from a livelier urban lifestyle.
As TF1, the French TV channel highlighted in their news program today, new residents arriving in the Var have resulted in a net population increase of 9000 people per year, and in fact the reporter who made the documentary was leaving her job today to do precisely that !
Are you next ?
Making that New year resolution happen – #movingsouth
Don't miss out on free help and advice. If your first point of call may be friends or relations living in the area, you may find their advice too subjective.
That is why a professional property finder who advises buyers, knows the area and is able to listen to buyer's needs should be your first point of call. This is precisely what we do at Smartfinder Home as we will always offer you our advice whether you use our search service or not.
For useful tips you can also check out our website for the best areas, largest property portals, market prices, and many other topics on our blog, or contact us via our search form or directly on the phone.
Our passion at Smartfinder Home is to help people realize their dream move !
A special event in the Var this year will be "Cotignac 500" that marks 500 years since since the first apparition that set Cotignac on the map in the 16th century as a Christian pilgrimage site . What is unique about Cotignac is the focus on the family and children, that no doubt from the apparition itself, where the infant Jesus appeared in the arms of the St Mary.
Tens of thousands of pilgrims come each year, and for them a series of events will run throughout 2019 culminating in the Jubilee week mid August. For more information you can check this page: http://frejustoulon.fr/page/cotignac-500/
Other heritage news
- The Collegiale church in the centre of Lorgues has been re-opened after 8 years of renovation work that has consolidated and brightened the building both inside and oustide.
- You can admire the gardens of the remarkable landscape gardener, Dominique Lafourcade, who after the Chateau de Berne, has renovated the Domaine d'Orves:
www.architecture-lafourcade.com/ and www.domainedorves.fr/
- The Sainte Baume site near St Maximin has received an award as "Foret d'exception", and the path leading up to the grotto of St Mary Magdalene has the most stunning view of Provence.
Smartfinder Home wishes you a Happy New Year 2019, and that you may realize your projects !
Investors do not like uncertainty it is said, yet it is surprising how well the stock markets are holding their value despite so much uncertainty. Are we in another pre 2008 situation, waiting for an event that will trigger a collapse in confidence, or will the markets ride out each of these threats to the real economy ?
Some of the risks facing investors.
Government debt in Italy heading towards 150% of GDP combined with a stagnant economy could lead to default that would be very hard to contain. A US-China trade war could trigger a panic in Chinese equities. Theresa May losing her vote in parliament for her Brexit deal, may lead to a no deal economic slump in the UK. Or if the "Gilets Jaunes" in France get under the control of extremists, it may lead to economic blockage.
Property as a safe haven
Whatever the outcome, potential risks have never been higher and this is why I privately sigh with relief every time one of my clients buys a property and get their savings out of a potential financial trap into an investment with real value. A property, like land, is one of the few assets with real residual value, one that you rent or find shelter in whatever happens in the outside world. And if you need shelter, the French Riviera and countryside inland is definitely one of the safer and nicest areas to move to.
I hope 2019 will bring more peace and harmony and just prosperity for a safer world !
A health resort first
If the French Riviera became famous in the 19th century, it was mainly due to certain figures of British high society who promoted the area as a health resort for the winter. Before that Nice was known as a stop over for aristocrats heading to Italy on their grand tour of Europe, to see first hand the cultural sites of Europe.
In 1765 a Scottish doctor Tobias Smollett helped set Nice as a desirable destination when he wrote a bestseller on his travels drawing attention to the town as a health resort due to its mild winter. And when sons and brother of King George III started coming regularly to Nice, this added to the prestige of Nice. At that time, Lady Penelope Rivers was helping many British settle for the winter here, and she was no doubt the first property finder ! Then after the unsettled period of the French revolution and Napoleon, the British came back again after 1814 in ever increasing numbers. More hotels and villas, and even blocks of flats were built to accommodate the visitors. The other popular destination alongside Nice was Hyeres, known for its spa, located near Toulon thanks to the efforts of Alphonse Denis the mayor of the town.
Where the English left their mark
In 1823 following a bad harvest, many locals were out of work and the Anglican Révérend Lewis Wey had an idea to employ them - build a promenade along the sea front with the financial support of English visitors. Completed in 1824 it was later called "camin dei Inglés" or "Promenade des Anglais".
Then one day in 1834, Lord Brougham stayed in a very small fishing village called Cannes, and was stunned by the beauty of the bay and surrounding area. Just a year later, he came back to build the first château Éléonore-Louise in Cannes, and many others followed. From initially a British resort, the French Riviera in the 1860's then attracted high society from Paris, Russia as well. Queen Victoria, Edward VII, the Romanoff's were all regular visitors.
With the extension of rail travel and tourism, and the many famous artists and painters who came to live here, the French Riviera or Cote d'Azur became the prime holiday destination in Europe. Luckily the nicest buildings of the 19th century period are still visible today.
If you want to explore in detail the history of the Riviera in the 19th century, with pictures of the first villas built here, check this excellent source: https://journals.openedition.org/insitu/11060
A surprise for many buyers looking at houses available on the market in the South of France are the number of properties that still have old fashioned dated interiors, with sometimes rather gloomy and dark furniture or not very nice tiles from 70’s or 80’s.
In contrast, here are 2 superb properties the first property re-visited by a Belgian owner with alot of taste and another by a British interior designer, both currently for sale.
The bastide set in a dominant position with a stunning view over the hills of Var close to the popular village of Lorgues was built by a Belgian owner. Completed quite recently with much care, the elegant furnishings and stone floors convey a timeless classic style to the house. Rooms are perfectly proportioned and bright, and the layout is well thought out. There is a feeling of serenity when visiting this house, that seems to whisper this a just reward for a life of work or the perfect getaway. It is reminiscent of the abbey of the Thoronet located not far away, and yet it is only an hour from Nice airport. As pictures speak more than words, here are some of the views of the interior and outside.
Part of a Chateau, with spectacular open views over the surrounding grounds and vineyards to the west of Lorgues, is a house renovated by a British interior designer. The clever combination of stone from the original chateau, and a more recent and sober provencal style, gives the house charm and character. A fairly open plan with a nice hallway, stairs and landing ensures there is plenty of light in the house. All 3 bedrooms have their own shower rooms/bath rooms, and there is an option to buy an additional studio. As the chateau is managed like a secured domain, you can use the large pool or tennis court without having to worry about maintenance. No wonder it has attracted international residents who mostly use it as their perfect holiday home. The price has just been reduced, so it may not remain on the market for very long !
From the ongoing property search we run for our clients, we will be giving you regular reviews of other houses for sale that stand out. But better still is to provide your requirements to us directly through our search form, so you get first pick of the best houses available in the Var and Cote d’Azur !
Rental income or capital appreciation ?
If most buyers buy here to make use of the property themselves, certain buyers look at making a good investment with the possibility of one day using the apartment themselves, for example when they retire.
As prices since 2008 have stagnated, it is return on rentals that are the focus for property investors on the French Riviera, rather than capital appreciation. I have provided indications of gross returns only, as net returns depend very much on your personal tax situation in France.
Which is the best area ?
There is no quick answer on where to find higher rental returns, and most media articles that compares the average purchase price Vs. average rental are useless, as they do not take account of the huge diversity within each town and even each street. Also the values given of between 3% and 7% gross return per annum, do not take into account occupancy level and risks of bad payers that cannot be evicted under the highly protective laws that favour of long term tenants. The cheaper the property, the higher the return, but also the higher the risk of bad payers.
As a result an option that many prefer in the touristic areas like the Cote d’Azur are seasonal rentals. For short term AirBnb type lettings, while ensuring sometimes a better return on investment than a long term rental, gives the owner the possibility of making use of the apartment during the year when the property is free.
3 types of investment opportunities
Buying a studio in Nice a few streets back from the sea front for 150K Euros, that can be rented for 10 months to a student, then for 8 weeks as a seasonal rental in July and August certainly provides the best gross returns of around 7%. But you will need to find someone to manage changeovers in a cost effective way, as agents can take up to 25% to manage the seasonal rentals.
Another possibility is an evolution of the Chambre d’Hotes concept to the AirBnB concept. Whereas the former works well in country houses, but demands a lot of work and attention, it is possible to run in a more autonomous way, rental of rooms or small self-contained flats within a larger property in towns like Nice or Cannes. A Dutch owner managed excellent returns from his villa in Nice overlooking the sea, managing bookings remotely.
Another special market for rentals is Cannes, famous not only for the smart sea front lined with luxury belle epoque hotels and its film festival, but also for its very active convention centre that attracts visitors at all times of the year. You may not have heard of MIPIM or MIDEM, but these are events held in Cannes that are known worldwide in the property and music business. Here a well chosen 1 bedroom flat close to the convention centre can provide a 6% gross return with about 60% occupancy.
How safe is the investment ?
Knowing that the fundamentals are positive in the South of France, with a steady demographic increase mainly in the Var due to the influx of wealthy sun seekers from the north of Europe, and a well preserved environment, your investment will be relatively safe from economic hazards. The sun, blue skies and restaurants can’t be moved to China, and no Frexit in view either !
If you need to pick an investment property from a large area, you are better off contacting a property finder like Smartfinder Home covering all the French Riviera than dealing with multiple agents who can only present their own portfolio of properties. We hope we can provide you that rare combination of good and fun investment !
With record summer temperatures everywhere in the Northern hemisphere and in the South of France, take a look at our top 7 outings for staying cool on the French Riviera.
Top 3 cool destinations on the sea
L'Estagnol, The best beach
The best beach of fine sand and shade that you get from the pine trees is the Beach de l'Estagnol, near Bormes Les Mimosas, further west than St Tropez towards Hyeres. It is just minutes from Fort Bregancon and you can understand why French Presidents like Chirac and now Macron like to come to this part of the coast in the summer !
Boats the easy way
Since 2017 you can now go for a day trip on a boat for a very reasonable rate of beween 20 to 50 Eur per person for a day thanks to the new web platform called www.cobaturage.fr
Once you register for free, you can reserve a trip on one of 30 boats available on the site for the Cote D'Azur. To stay cool, make sure you select a boat that has a good cover from the sun !
Kyanos, the classic boat in Ste Maxime
This classic boat can take parties of 8 people and make you discover some of the best spots to cool off for a swim from the boat around the bay of St Tropez. The young 84 year old skipper* of Kyanos has a few stories to tell, as you will discover in the July issue of Motor Boat and Yachting magazine, including how at eight years old he drove motor boat launches for the Royal Navy in the Caribean !
Top 3 cool destinations inland
Saint Cassien Lake near Les Adrets and Fayence
Just half an hour inland from Cannes, and a few minutes from the Les Adrets motorway exit is Lake Saint Cassien. There are several nice beaches like plage de l'Americain with its pedalos and restaurant, where you can cool off for a swim in the lake, but arrive early to get a good parking spot near the beach. www.visitvar.fr/noesit/!/fiche/le-lac-de-st-cassien-619526/
Lac Sainte Croix near the Gorges de Verdon
Higher up, within an hour from the Var coast you can reach the Lake St Croix and its less crowded beaches, in a wonderfull setting at the end of the Gorges of the Verdon which is the deepest valley in Europe. Here you can also hire sailing boats and pedalos and swim in the cooler waters of the lake fed from Alpine valleys. www.visitvar.fr/en/have-fun/in-the-water/rivers-and-lakes/
Puget Thenier for closest walks at higher altitudes
At mid altitude (400-1400m), easier than the Southern Alps and closer than the Mercantour, Puget Thenier has 17 different footpath trails. Choose one that runs along a mountain stream, to cool off from an energetic walk - www.visorando.com/randonnee-puget-theniers.html
The cool urban destination - Cap 3000
Just next to Nice airport, for the less adventurous you can always spend a day in a pleasant fully airconditioned shopping center. Cap 3000, the first large shopping centre of the French Riviera has been revamped and extended recently and has over 150 shops, from Gallerie Lafayette to Apple store. The full list of shops and restaurants are here.
Who are the winners from our June 2018 update ?
In the luxury property segment of +1 million Euros, it is www.luxuryestate.com/france that has made it to the top in terms of number of houses and apartments for sale in the Var and Alpes Maritimes. This UK based property portal was created in 2011 and as you will see it has outstripped the other big names, like Rightmove, Primelocation and in France Seloger or the Figaro.
For all properties, it is www.superimmo.com that is the leader with almost 70 thousand properties for sale across the 2 departments of the French Riviera. It has also one of the best search capabilities that we often use internally at Smartfinder Home with a powerful keyword search and useful criteria including land size.
Quality slowly improving
The quality of most portals have improved, as they have adapted to mobile phones and made their search facilities easier to use. However no major advances have been made, such as locating a property on a map or seeing videos or virtual visits of a property, as these are usually either slow or rarely well done. The day virtual visits will replace photos like on this website, much time will be saved in visits : http://vip-luxury360.com/fr/visite-virtuelle-luxe/visites-virtuelles-360/47-visite-virtuelle-immobilier.php
The complete list property websites Vs. delegating your search
In the A-Z listing you will see nearly 100 property websites with over 200 adverts. Unfortunately there is not one site that combines all of these properties for the French Riviera into a single listing like a regional MLS in the US. This is why when running a search, we recommend you delegate this to us, as we have in addition to the list of portals, a database of +3000 agents covering the French Riviera and other professional tools so we are perfectly equipped to run an exhaustive search.
When a house buyer gives us their criteria, and commits to using our services via a search mandate, we will be able to find them just the right property from a pool of over a hundred thousand ones available. We are riding the Internet & IT wave and picking up every trick to make our search more efficient, so that we can save our clients lots of time when they decide to delegate the search to us.
Alistair Phillips initiated Smartfinder Var, and has from his childhood lived in many locations in France and across Europe.