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Today we went to our first overseas property show – A Place In The Sun, 2018 in Manchester.

We took the train from Liverpool so we could make a day of it. There was a dedicated French section in addition to the more generic services such as tax, pension and finance advice. We’d identified the talks we wanted to attend and spent the rest of the time talking to a number of estate agents. 

However, we seemed to spend most of the time just looking at the details of properties we had seen online and weren’t in a position to buy anyway. Lesson learned – plan better and come with some goals.

Some of the talks were very useful. One was by an English law firm specialising in French property who offer a service carrying out all the detailed searches the French tend not to bother with. We made a note to use them or a similar service. 

Others covered such things as the buying process and lifestyle and helped cement our desire to make it happen, come what may.

Things we learned today:

  • The notaire handles the legal aspects of the sale process on behalf of both the buyer and seller. This is obviously unfamiliar ground for us Brits, so we need to look into this more. However, we were told we can employ our own notaire and the two would split the fees.
  • French buyers tend not to have any surveys carried out, but the seller has to provide, and pay for, a number of reports. How thorough these are, we will need to investigate.
  • The buyer pays the estate agency commission, which appears to be quite a hefty percentage in France. 
  • If we can afford to buy in France it is likely the property will require upgrading. It was encouraging that a number of estate agents at the show spoke of home-owners doing a lot of the work themselves due to the basic fabric of old stone properties. 

We decided over a few drinks to visit France later this year to try and identify areas we would like to live in and, more importantly, could realistically afford.