Saturday, 26 December 2009

Party time

On Christmas Eve we went to a party in a neighbouring village, hosted by some friends (they became friends after buying a house through us in 2003). Their house is now for sale again, since their family circumstances have changed, and they are forced to sell their beautiful home.
Also at the gathering were no less than 5 or 6 other couples who had also purchased via Allez-Francais over the years. It was a real joy to hear them all relate their stories and discover how happy they are in rural France. Every single one said that it was the best decision that they had made, and there were absolutely no regrets.
These clients still look forward to and enjoy our quarterly newsletter (see http://www.allez-francais.com/newsletter.php?q=4&y=2009)
The common element to the feedback that we received was that we were one of the very few agents that actually bothered to really listen to their requirements when they were looking and that we had a fabulous range of properties across all prices. It was really rewarding to hear this and they have all recommended our company to friends considering a move across the Channel. I hope that you had a Joyeux Noël and wish you Bonne Année for 2010!
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial)

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Client testimonial

Why use our agency and not one of the "big-boys" ? Here is what a recent client has to say – We have been searching for a home abroad for a number of years now and during that time have searched many web sites and dealt with a number of agencies in both France and Spain. I must say that we found your web site to be very user friendly, very informative and most importantly accurate in both the pictorial & worded descriptions. We were certainly not disappointed with any of the properties we viewed during our brief visit. Being based so far away meant that our time was very limited and therefore the process needed to be both very efficient and accurate, as we did not have anytime to waste. The initial viewings were all of properties that met with our criteria and the house we decided to purchase not only met but also exceeded our expectation.
After our unfortunate experience in the Spanish property market it was vital to us that we dealt with a professional organisation who would help and guide us through the various legal and administrative requirements associated with the purchase of a house in France. The team at Allez-Français again exceeded our expectation is this respect and your help and guidance in taking us through the purchasing, mortgage application & insurance process is very much appreciated. I cannot stress how apprehensive we were about this whole process after our disasters in Spain , however it was very reassuring knowing we were in professional and caring "hands". Again we thank you and your team for helping us achieve our dream. We now look forward to the day we finally leave behind the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong and take up residence in our beautiful home in France.
The end of the year is fast approaching, and this is often a time of currency volatility. Sterling is still strapped to very narrow trading ranges as a small amount of positive data and reassurance from the Bank of England that Britain has weathered the recession better than expected, hasn’t proven enough to support the ailing Pound. The massive level of UK government debt remains the fly in the ointment here.
As usual at this time of year, I would suggest this is the period to think about placing automated market orders to try to capture any spikes or troughs in exchange rates. The two weeks over the Christmas period are some of the most unpredictable and profitable in the whole year for those who use their market orders correctly and your dedicated Allez-Français currency dealer will be happy to discuss the options with you.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Completing a French property purchase

One of the most important things to get right when you buy a French property, apart from your currency, (more on that later), is the structure for the ownership, taking into account the French Inheritance laws. I have sat in with clients on 3 separate occassions this week at their final “Acte de Vente”, and in each case their individual scenario has been very different. Children by previous relationships and unmarried couples make for various permutations, and it is so incredibly important to get the way in which you buy the property correct. Failure to do so, could result in children by a previous relationship owning a house jointly with a step-parent, or Inheritance tax being paid at 60%. This is why we accompany clients to the Notaire’s office for the final signature – to ensure that the best outcome is achieved. Having a very competent, English speaking Notaire is a very useful asset. Turning to the currency matter, we have saved clients literally thousands of £s this week by using a dedicated currency dealer, rather that a High Street bank. The rates offered are significantly better, and with no charges. Full details available upon request. E-mail: allez-francais@wanadoo.fr Website http://www.allez-francais.com/

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Bargain hunting

Bargain hunting With the property market fairly quiet, there are always some great opportunities to snap up a bargain. Being in the best position to negotiate a good sale, i.e. with cash in your pocket, or even better your £s already exchanged into Euros, puts you a step ahead of the competition. There are quite a number of very large price reductions now on our website, and this provides the astute buyer with a fantastic chance to buy a French property at a significant discount. See our website http://www.allez-francais.com/ or telephone or e-mail for the latest bargains .... Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Renewable energy, & mortgage lenders

A week ago we were driving back from the Algarve, passing through Portugal and Spain en-route back to the Poitou Charentes. What was immediately evident was the extent of the efforts that have gone into providing renewable energy sources in those 2 countries. Wind farms appear on many horizons as you make the drive. Whether you like them or hate them, they do appear to lie idle for an awful lot of the time, either because there is too much wind, or conversely, because there is not enough. However, given that they have a projected life span of 20 years, and they take 15 years to break even, we remain to be convinced about their value. What was noticeable on this journey, was an increase in the number of solar powered projects. Sitting in football sized fields, the panels are low level and unobtrusive, quite a difference to the modern éolien (wind mill), that stands 140 meters high and is visible for many miles. In fact, you almost miss the solar fields because they are so discreet. It is therefore a bit of a puzzle why this region of France has opted to invest in so many wind farms, (34 parks planned for our department alone), with a complete absence of solar energy except for small individual installations. It is acknowledged that we enjoy well over 2,200 hours of sun per annum, and the area is the 2nd sunniest in France, the decision to opt for wind power baffles me. Enough on this subject for the moment – now for another moan ... Mortgages - I often arrange mortgages for clients and have previously had good experiences with all French lenders. This year, we have been facing one problem after another with one particular lender. Earlier in the year, they were keen to promote their Equity release mortgage, which is a relatively new product here in France. I consequently submitted a number of cases to the lender, and found that each case was rejected by the office that we dealt with, as the rules had apparently changed retrospecively. We subsequently found that the same clients were able to arrange these loans via another branch of the bank, despite assurances to ourselves that this could not be done. Recently, I have had 2 on-going sales where the buyers wanted to take advantage of low French interest rates and finance their purchases via a mortgage. Both cases stood up very well on income and valuation, and both were approved in principle quite quickly. However, the bank’s underwriters started to request information that had already been provided several weeks earlier in both cases. As a consequence, both loans were significantly delayed, although finally approved. The annoying thing was that the completion for both sales had to be rescheduled, to great inconvienience to all parties, and causing a significant amount of stress. No apology has been received to any of the parties, and we feel that this reflects upon our business, as it is us that have made the recommendation to use the lender. We have to seriously question whether we could ever recommend this lender again. (I am quite happy to name and shame the lender to any interested parties).

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Chateaux for sale

There is always a great choice of exceptional properties for sale in France, but perhaps the best value for money is within the Chateau or Manoir category.
The styles very tremendously, from glamourous homely estates, to enormous palaces, and of course, fortified castles.
If you are looking for something extra special don't hesitate to contact us, we will certainly have something extra special for you.
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres

Sunday, 1 November 2009

A new exclusive development in France’s beautiful Mervent Forest

This new exclusive development in France’s beautiful Mervent Forest is a ‘Turn Key’ Self Build Project. As a result you will buy the plot and then enter into a separate building contract to create your detached property. Plans will be drawn up to detail the design of your property based on a 2, 3 or 4 bedroom template together with the plot you have chosen. A company will handle the project management of the build and your property will be delivered to you complete in circa 30 months following exchange of contracts on the land. Options to tailor your purchase to state of the art sophistication are available such as private swimming pool, furniture package, interior design and intelligent home functionality.
Stunning elevated position above the meandering River Mervent, nestled in amongst trees and wildlife, whilst benefiting from panoramic views of France and surrounding villages. Just 5 minute walks to a man made beach at the river itself, other facilities that can be enjoyed in the immediate vicinity are: · Sailing & Canoeing Centre · Horse Riding Centre · Coarse Fishing · Mountain Biking · Walking and Rambling · Tree Top Adventure Park
The managing company has secured this land project significantly below market value, and furthermore by using the benefits of self build and bulk buying we are able to deliver the completed units considerably below the current market value too. Blue Sky has structured this opportunity, for investors to take full benefit of the discount. Subsequently investors will buy at less than 80% below market value. The remaining discount of 20% is effectively your equity. Investors will also be able to take advantage of various financing options to purchase their property.
A reservation fee of €5,000 secures your plot for 60 days at the current discounted price. These funds will also cover any architects costs associated with your purchase. A build quotation will then be issued to you based on your plot and a mortgage (if required) will be ‘approved’ for the total amount of the land and build costs in total. Any extras such as swimming pools should be decided on at this stage in principle so they can be included in the mortgage. A contract for the plot will then be issued, signed and exchanged. A further contract for the build at a fixed price will then be issued signed and exchanged. The mortgage will then be drawn down in installments relative to the progress of the build, initially settling the land in full.
For legal costs including associated mortgage and notary fees you should budget 8-9% of the land costs only, (a significant saving against the normal purchasing costs in France), which will be payable on exchange of the land.
The project itself will be 99 individual detached dwellings both modern in design but sympathetic to local surroundings, materials, features and architecture. Contact us now for full details via http://www.allez-francais.com/
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE

Sunday, 18 October 2009

France is the best place to live in Europe

France is the best place to live in Europe, according to a review of 17 quality of life factors carried out by a leading UK based consumer website.
The study examined a range of variables, such as net income after taxes, the cost of essential goods such as fuel, food and energy, along with lifestyle factors such as hours of sunshine, holiday entitlement, working hours and life expectancy, to provide a picture of the quality of life experienced in each country. The index was produced by the website http://www.uswitch.com/ a comparison site for consumer services and products. They publish an annual quality of life index across the main countries of Europe.
According to their study, France enjoys one of the lowest retirement ages, has the longest life expectancy in Europe and spends the most on healthcare. It also has one of the highest levels of spending on education. French workers also benefit from 34 days holiday a year – compared with only 28 days in the UK – and it comes only behind Spain and Italy for hours of sunshine. France has an average of 1,967 hours of sunshine per year, compared with 1,476 hours in the UK. Our base, in the Poitou Charentes is the 2nd sunniest area of France, after the Med coast, with around 2,250 hours of sunshine on average.
The study shows that money does not buy everything, for the UK has the highest net household income in Europe. At £35,730 it is £10,325 higher than the European average. However, people living in the UK also have to contend with a high cost of living - the average household energy bill alone adds up to an eye watering £1,239 a year while they also pay £1,175 a year in council tax. Even travel is expensive with a 30 mile journey into London on a train setting commuters back over £3,000 a year.
Drawing on official figures from the EU, the study shows that the same basket of goods that costs £134.48 in the UK costs £124 on average in Europe and only £118.76 in France, which enjoys the lowest food prices amongst those countries in the study. While they earn less, the French also have some of the lowest alcohol, electricity and gas prices. France is the biggest investor in health, spending 11% of GDP on health, closely followed by Denmark and Germany.
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres

Sunday, 11 October 2009

New Carbon tax

A carbon tax is to be introduced in France, accompanied by a compensatory reduction in income tax. The tax (Contribution Climat-Energie), is planned to come into operation on 1st January 2010, will be paid by households & companies who consume oil, gas or coal. (The tax will not be applied on electricity as less than 10% of electricity generation is coal powered). The rate of tax has been set at 17 € per ton of CO² emitted, a rate half of that proposed by the committee set up by President Sarkozy to provide recommendations on the introduction of the tax. For example, this will mean an increase of approximately 4.5 cents in the price of a litre of diesel and 4 cents on a litre of petrol. In practice the impact will vary significantly between households, with some households likely to be paying 200 € a year or more in tax. The French government have made it clear that the rate has been set lower than they would have desired in order not to impact adversely on household budgets during the current economic downturn. The government have stated that it is not their aim to increase the total level of taxes paid by households and companies, so other taxes will be reduced. All households will receive either a reduction in the level of income tax they pay each year, or alternatively a tax credit (Chèque Vert) if they do not pay tax. The amount of the tax rebate or credit will depend on the size of the household and the location. You can check out your own situation by visiting the following website (in French) :- http://www.taxe-carbone.clcv.org/index.html The government has also announced the abolition of the Taxe Professionnelle in 2010, although this tax is being replaced by a new system of tax, called the Cotisation Economique Territoriale, details still to be finalised. It may come as no surprise to many that there will be concessions for transport companies, farmers, and fishermen. Farmers and fishermen will receive a rebate of 75% in the first year! Look out for new measures for energy conservation and low polluting cars.
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Agency - going green

Like many people we are extremely concerned about the protection of the environment. Travelling to France from the UK, which represents most of our clientele, obviously impacts upon an individual’s carbon footprint. Whether you travel by ferry, aeroplane or car there is a significant impact.
For 2010 and the remainder of this year have decided that we will try to off-set the carbon footprint of clients viewing through us, by planting a tree* for each client visiting and viewing a selection of property, which will over time absorb their carbon dioxide emissions. At Allez-Français we are taking steps to help reduce our impact on our surroundings and create a more environmentally friendly future.
We can also assist clients to find artisans for home improvements, such as insulation to better than recommended levels, this ensures heat retention during winter months (reducing the need for heating) and ensures a cooler environment during summer months, reducing the need for air conditioning. Double glazing to all windows and doors. Recuperate rainwater. Install saltwater pool system which minimises the use of harsh and harmful chemicals. Plus of course, the use of alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar, geothermal. We would like to think of ourselves as ground-breakers with this idea. Hopefully, clients will decide to view with an agency trying to something for the environment, rather than one just offering a standard service, that we are confident that we will exceed in any case! * A tree for each client will be planted in the village of Paizay le Tort. A carbon footprint is defined as - The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO²).
In other words: When you drive a car, the engine burns fuel which creates a certain amount of CO², depending on its fuel consumption and the driving distance. (CO² is the chemical symbol for carbon dioxide). When you heat your house with oil, gas or coal, then you also generate CO². Even if you heat your house with electricity, the generation of the electrical power may also have emitted a certain amount of CO². When you buy food and goods, the production of the food and goods also emitted some quantities of CO².
Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO² (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame. Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCETel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25 Tel: 0871 717 4176 (UK)

Monday, 28 September 2009

New challenges

One of the great attractions of France is that it is so diverse. You can have rolling countryside, coastal regions and mountains, all within a relatively short area of the country. Each regions has it's own distinctive features and character, but whatever you like, you are sure to be able to find it in France. Our mission is to be able to facilitate the purchase of your French dream home, and until now we have always been limited to the area inland from La Rochelle, the popular Poitou Charentes, straying also into the Vendée and Haute Vienne. During recent weeks we have been working to extend the areas in which we are able to offer property for sale. Naturally, we will be focusing on those areas most popular with the British and International clientele. To start with, we have hand selected a small number of business partnerships, where we know that the Allez-Français ethos will be carried through and service levels be of the highest standard. Our business partners will be both experienced & established in their fields, being in a position to offer our clients an exceptional range of properties. Next year, we are looking to develop this plan further, with a regional network of Allez-Francais representatives. In the coming months we will be speaking to potential candidates to work with us on this exciting project. We will be looking for self-motivated people, (couples or individuals), with a good command of the French language, who wish to be self-employed, working on a commission remunerated basis, independently, but with the support of a team behind them.We have already identified the 8 most suitable areas of France for this project, but we will only roll-out the business when we have identified suitable candidates and they have proven to us that they are right for the challenge ahead.
Peter Elias (Agent Commecial) http://www.allez-francais.com/

Sunday, 20 September 2009

The pound at a 4 month low against the Euro

The pound has fallen to a 4 month low against the Euro because of fresh concerns about the extent of the UK's public sector debt levels.
One €uro rose to as high as 0.9057 pence in Friday trading, the single currency's highest trading position since May. The pound's falls came as official figures showed UK's public sector net borrowing totalled £16.1bn last month. The Government's overall debt now stands at £804.8bn, or 57.5% of GDP, which is an increase of £172bn in the past year.
Analysts advise that the £ was also weakened by speculation that the FSA has set Lloyds Banking Group the task of raising more than £20bn to strengthen it’s balance sheet if it wants to leave the Government Asset Protection Scheme (GAPS). Such news has hurt the £ as it suggests that it will take longer for the UK banking sector to return to normal.
So, having seen expectations of the £ trading at 1.20 or even 1.25 against the Euro for the year end, the picture has now been totally revised and experts are waiting to see how the currencies move during the final quarter of the year. We have seen highs of 1.2917 back in Oct 08 and lows of 1.0249 in Dec 08, highlighting the importance of using a specialist currency dealer when you move money between currencies. For a 250,000 € house, for a UK buyer, the price could have fluctuated between £243,925 and £193,545, a staggering thought.
Monthly average rates for 2009 highlight the progress made until June since when improvement has halted and fallen back towards levels experienced in April.
Monthly average rates 2009 January 1.08962 EUR (21 days average) February 1.12765 EUR (20 days average) March 1.08771 EUR (22 days average) April 1.11409 EUR (21 days average) May 1.13034 EUR (21 days average) June 1.1674 EUR (22 days average) July 1.16157 EUR (23 days average) August 1.15938 EUR (21 days average) September 1.13592 EUR (14 days average) Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25
Tel: 0871 717 4176 (UK) Website www.allez-francais.com

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Property exhibition time

This week, taking a break from work in rural Devon, I have taken the opportunity to visit the French Property News exhibition at Olympia, which is where we launched the Allez-Français company in January 2002. How times have changed ! The vast halls of Olympia were packed with exhibitors over 2 floors back in 2002, and space was at a premium. During the course of that weekend 40,000 visitors charged through the doors and ensured that you never had a moment to relax. Yesterday, by contrast, there was plenty of space for exhibitors, over a single floor, and visitors strolled through the doors at a trickle rather than a surge. There seemed to be as many Currency exchange dealers as Estate Agents, surely a sign that the immobilier world has taken a big hit and found times very hard during the past 12 months. There has been a change in marketing, away from costly shows, and expensive magazine advertising, towards more cost effective property website portals. That is certainly the way Allez-Français has moved during the last 12-18 months. Being here in the UK does give you a serious reality check, however. PC madness still rules ! The newspapers yesterday reported how it is now not acceptable to refer to a famous pudding as “spotted dick”, and there was an article revealing that prison officers had been told that they could not refer to inmates by simply their surnames such as “Fletcher”, and that “Mr Fletcher” was the order of the day. What would Ronnie Barker say ! No wonder there is no shortage of Brits still trying to escape the island for France. The recent increase in activity is being maintained, and once again our company has been dealing with the signing of a “compromise de vente” on a Saturday afternoon. Well done Nigel, our new Agent Commercial, on notching up your 1st sale. Many more to follow …. Peter Elias (Agent Commercial) Website http://www.allez-francais.com/ or e-mail allez-francais@wanadoo.fr

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Currency watch

Pound Euro rates faced a torrid week last week, falling on Friday for the 7th straight trading session, a first for 2009. Rates dropped after a raft of poor UK data showing the economy is still in decline, coupled with the fact that forecast interest rate differentials caused the Euro to strengthen. The rate picked up slightly in trading on Tuesday morning, however poor PMI data compounded the problem with interest rate differentials, and so the pound is still performing poorly.
What does this mean?
Interest rate differential is simply the difference between our interest rate set by the Bank of England, and the Eurozone base rate set by the European Central Bank. If rates are higher in the Eurozone, then investors get a better return. This causes increased demand for the currency, and so as more investors purchase it becomes stronger and the net effect is lower rates. So, higher interest rates usually strengthen a currency, and vice versa.
Rates in the UK sit at 0.5%, while EU rates are at 1%. It had been the case that analysts thought the BoE would aggressively hike rates in the latter part of 2009. It’s now thought that EU rates will rise much faster than UK rates, which is what caused the Euro to strengthen. This coupled with poor UK data caused last week’s dismal performance by Sterling.
The pound recovered on Tuesday after taking a beating last week, when dismal UK business investment figures helped to further convince the market that UK interest rates would remain at a record low 0.5 percent for some time to aid the economy. However poor PMI figures which were worse than expected, caused the recovery to be short lived, and the downturn in Sterling exchange rates continued.
This week we see the ECB announce their interest rate decision, a hold at 1% is expected, but don’t rule out a rise to combat deflation. Markets are extremely volatile at the moment, as the big movements in exchange rates last week demonstrated. This week we have various data releases from across the globe, which will no doubt cause further changes in exchange rates.
Uncertainty is never good for business, but it does of course throw up opportunities for the bold.
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Increased activity and sales

A few weeks ago, I was reporting on signs that the market was picking up. The trend was steady rather than spectacular, starting with properties below 250,000 €. I am delighted to report that this trend is continuing, and as August closes, it has been our best month for sales since June 2006, with properties moving in just about every price band. Quite what has inspired this rush of buyers is quite difficult to pinpoint. The £ : € rate has in fact dropped below 1.15, at level at which it has been comfortable for many weeks. That is good news for vendors returning to the UK, but hardly likely to inspire the rush in the opposite direction. In fact we have seen quite a change in the profile of our viewing clients, with a good International mix, made up of American, Canadian, Belgian, Dutch, Australian, and Spanish, plus of course the French & British that you would expect. I think this shows that our exposure to different markets via our extensive website portals is an important factor, and that we offer 1st class service levels throughout, to ensure that clients are very satisfied with their Allez-Français experience, whether they buy via ourselves or not. I suppose the simple facts are that at last, people are starting to find that house sales are re-commencing, and that one sale fuels another. Certainly, I feel that property prices have bottomed out now, and the market will be looking ahead with anticipation as opposed to fear. Last weekend we had the unusual situation of 2 offers from different buyers for the same property, whilst the owners also had 2 other offers on the table via different agencies to consider. It just goes to show that if the property is competitively priced, there are buyers out there. Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, France
E-mail: allez-francais@wanadoo.fr Website http://www.allez-francais.com

Monday, 24 August 2009

Vineyards Domaines and Chateaux

In a response to a recent enquiry, we have decided to set up a specialist arm dedicated to finding French vineyards for sale.
We have identified selected professional of the wine business, to work with in business partnership. They know that setting up in a wine region requires a certain number of surveys, analyses which only a viticultural expert, who knows all the aspects and characteristics of each zone, can provide.
We are confident that our experts and viticultural consultants combine their unique competences to audit, carry out surveys, analyse and accompany you to facilitate your vineyard acquisition project.
We are also going to be setting up a specialist department working uniquely on large Chateau estates, so if either of these exciting challenges are for you, do please get in touch with us to discuss your specific requirements.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Working with your French agency

The Allez-Français website allows you deal directly with us on the ground in France. We are not agents based in the UK working in partnership with 3rd parties. We do work with some French agencies to supplement our property portfolio. Generally, each house on the site has been visited by one of our agents, who has been authorised to sell the house by the owner. We can often offer additional information that is not available via the website. Our team will answer your specific questions based on his or her direct knowledge of the property, and will arrange to send additional images and conduct accompanied visits with you. In addition to offering an excellent service we keep our commissions competitive. We help you through the legal and linguistic process of buying a property in France - from viewings to contracts. We speak your language (so long as it is French or English)! We keep our site up to date - no pictures of alluring properties that sold years ago. These properties are for sale right now! We remove them from the site within one week of a sales contract being signed. Furthermore, if we don't have what you want on our books, we will try and find it for you. If you would like to view some properties, please contact us to make an appointment a week or two in advance. We only work by appointment, so it can be difficult to accommodate people at the last minute. We will ask you for you your name, address and a contact number (ideally a mobile when you are in France). It is most important that you turn up for appointments. Missed and late appointments cause considerable inconvenience both to ourselves and property owners. We will not handle any client funds whatsoever, your deposit and final payment will be paid direct to the Notaire. All of our prices include agency fees, but do not include the Notaire's charges, which are mostly government stamp duty. Before you view, you will be required to sign a bon de visite (a visit coupon). This is required under French law to prove that we have shown you the properties indicated on the form. If you do purchase one of the properties, it does commit you to do so through us, and pay the agreed and declared commission, which is quoted as part of the sale price. We will also advise you to sign a mandat de recherche (a buyers' mandate) which authorises us to search out properties on your behalf. It does not commit you to buying one. Signing this mandat absolutely costs you nothing, and could in fact save you money. Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25 www.allez-francais.com

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Who wants to be a Millionaire ?

I do ! For under a £1M you can buy a lovely small chateau, dating back to the 18th Century, magnificently restored, retaining numerous original features and set in 10 hectares of beautiful gardens, park and paddocks.
This delightful C18th Chateau style property has been fully renovated with great taste, comprises of a Manoir, 2 superb large holiday rental properties, several large outbuildings including stables, and the estate has a tennis court, carp lake plus 2 swimming pools. It stands in grounds of just over 10 ha, the lake having an island, and is situated in one of the most beautiful parts of Charente, just 5 minutes from Confolens (a small market town with an Annual Festival) and 45 minutes from Limoges or Poitiers airports.
Full details can be found on our website http://www.allez-francais.com/details.php?pty_id=972
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25 Tel: 0871 717 4176 (UK)

Sunday, 26 July 2009

French Estate Agents (Agent Immobilier) and Mandats

This is a highly regulated profession in France and the Agent Immobilier (or French Estate Agent) must be formally registered and bonded as such with French authorities. The paperwork that they are required to keep is quite detailed and very specific. As a consequence, when viewing property in France, you will be asked to sign a “Bon de Visite”, which is actually a legal requirement in France, (loi Hoguet), although not all agents ask you to sign these documents. It does beg the question that if other agents do not ask you to sign, how competent will they be with any paperwork resulting form a potential purchase. It does not commit you to anything, but provides a record of the properties that you view and shows that your agent introduced you to that property and the owners. It also requires that you will deal with the agent with whom you have visited a property, and not via a 3rd party or directly with the owners. This of course also ensures that the agent that introduces you to the property will get paid should you proceed to purchase. Before you can view a property, a agent will need to have a suitable “Mandat de Vente”, (also loi Hoguet), (empowering them to sell a property on behalf of the vendor) completed by the vendor and suitably registered. Any agents showing houses without a registered mandat de vente are breaking the law and the consequences are very serious. The mandates may be on an exclusive, non-exclusive, or semi-exclusive basis. Since most French properties offered for sale are on the books of several agents, the most common option is the non-exclusive basis. Vendors need to examine the terms of exclusive and semi-exclusive contract before signing as they may be committed for long periods of time and forced to pay a 2nd commission. Another type of mandat is a “mandate de recherche” (empowering them to seek out property to buy on behalf of a purchaser) and the mandat will specify the price band, type of property and the amount of remuneration. Finally a word of warning to anyone, of whatever nationality, who is not registered as an Estate Agent or Agent Commercial in France, and who attempts to take a commission on brokering properties, could be held to be committing a criminal offence. For a selection of properties in the Poitou Charentes region of France use the following link http://www.allez-francais.com/search.php Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25
Tel: 0871 717 4176 (UK) Fax: 0870 458 1804 (UK)

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Sterling falling against the Euro

Sterling is the big loser overnight in the markets and it is on the ropes this morning again. Recently we have witnessed a consistent pattern of steady gains followed by a sharp sell off. The pound has retraced to 1.15 against the euro; the 1.15 level is a crucial support on GBP/EUR and a break below 1.15 will be worrying for the pound. So what is causing this renewed weakness for the pound?
Initially the rot was started with the confirmation that June’ public sector net borrowing came in at £13 billion, the figures were actually better than expected but still underlined the dire state of public finances and understandably focused attention as to how we can climb out of this debt? Cue feedback from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) which said that government finances will remain deeply in the red for at least 4 years and this is based on the Treasury tightening the crews on public spending to a higher degree than planned…so a tighter reign on spending and inevitable tax rises is on the menu beyond the next election- very appetizing. Sterling has suffered on this negativity, as it does on any scent of bad news; a couple of articles also added to pressure on the pound- the first reported in the Financial Times highlighting a survey that more than half of businesses did not see any improvement in their prospects for at least another 12 months. The second through the Telegraph noted that Barclays and RBS will need billions more in capital if they are to continue growing their investment banks.
The Bank of England minutes just released offered no surprises with a vote of 9-0 to keep rates on hold and to maintain QE levels at £125 billion. Slightly sterling supportive as the minutes noted a reduction in the downside risks on GDP.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

French Capital Gains Tax on property sales

As in the UK, your “principal residence” is exempt from capital gains tax, so only people not meeting this requirement are impacted by CGT. However, one of the most frequent problems is that you can only qualify your “home” as your principal residence if you are formally tax resident in France. It will not qualify if you have been living in the property for some time, but have never entered the French tax system, nor completed a tax return.
The basic rules are fairly simple in that the purchase price can be revalued, by purchase / sale costs (agency fees, Notaires fees & specialist reports), and any major renovation bills, but there is no longer an inflation allowance. The resulting figure is subtracted from the sale price to calculate the taxable gain.
The gain is then taxable at a set rate of 16%, for European residents, with an a extra “social tax” (11% this year) for French residents. Anyone who is not a resident of a European state will pay a set tax rate of 33%.
You need to be aware that the conditions for the acceptance of “renovation work” are very stringent. The works must have be carried out by a registered French artisan (with an appropriate invoice) and invoices for materials that you have purchased yourselves are no longer allowed. One further expense for sales in excess of 150,000 Euros is the need to appoint an official “fiscal representative”, who is responsible for calculating and paying the tax on your behalf. They typicfally charge 1% of the sale value.
There is a significant allowance given for the length of time you have owned a property, after the first 5 years of ownership, as from then on, you are allowed 10% off your capital gain, for each complete year of ownership, with the result that a property owned for more than 15 years is free of Capital Gains Tax.
See also an article on our library pages http://www.allez-francais.com/lib/sa1204_05.htm
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25
Tel: 0871 717 4176 (UK) Fax: 0870 458 1804 (UK)

Sunday, 5 July 2009

French property fees

Most French properties are advertised on the internet with agency fees included. Typically these fees are 6-7 %, and are paid for by the buyer, not the vendor. (This actually works in the buyer's favour, since otherwise the fees would be added to the purchase price and Notary fees payable on the increased sum. Be careful though, some agents charge much higher fees!
Some agencies quote a fully inclusive price, (i.e. inclusive of all fees). Whilst at first glance this may sound like a good idea, the actual figure is often inaccurate, since the price may include furnishings or white goods etc. making the Notary fees quoted inaccurate.
On our website http://www.allez-francais.com all prices are inclusive of agency fees, but exclude Notary fees. So just how much are Notary fees and how are they calculated?
At the bargain basement end of the market, say 60,000 Euros the fees are around 8% (4,692 €).
At 150,000 Euros, the scale drops to 6.74% (10,110 €), and at 255,000 has reduced to 6.43% (16,397 €). For properties above a million Euros you are paying around 6.3%.
So if you agree a purchase that is worth 210,000 net to the vendor you would expect to pay an additional 12,600 € in agency fees, and 14,350 € in Notary fees, making a fully inclusive price of 236,900 (12.8% in fees).
NB. Additional fees are payable when there will be a mortgage registered against the French property.
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)871 7 17 4176 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25
Visit our website http://www.allez-francais.com/search.php to see around 300 properties in the Poitou Charentes for sale.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

French Property dreams

One of the main advantages about buying a home in France is that your money buys you a whole lot more property than it would in the UK. This enables people to "live the dream" and a great example of this ideal, is a new property this week :-

A large 6 bed Logis style house, set in secluded walled gardens of just over an acre with a tennis court, swimming pool and some useful outbuildings. The property is entered via an impressive Charentaise portal. Full details can be found at
Competitively priced at 394,500 Euros, the house is in good condition and has 3 en-suite bathrooms. It would make a great large family home, or indeed perhaps a B & B business.
Another great value for money buy is a detached 4 bed country house, available for just 180,200 Euros. Fully renovated, this little gem sits in around 1/2 acre of gardens, in the heart of a friendly hamlet in the French countryside. For further details visit http://www.allez-francais.com/details.php?pty_id=929
The past week has shown signs of increasing activity, perhaps brought on by the £ holding on to the recent gains against the Euro. In fact 2 of our clients have been pipped at the post during this week by other buyers who were more decisive after viewings had taken place. Not quite the busy days of a couple of years ago, but certainly noticeably more activity in the market now. I suspect that prices have now bottomed and this is the best time for buyers to be enetering the market.
Visit our website http://www.allez-francais.com/ to see our selection of around 300 properties.Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Encouragement for UK buyers in France

The recent recovery seen in the £ is gradually teasing UK buyers back into the French property market. Sales of property in the UK are slowly getting back on track, enabling many people to revisit their plans for an overseas property. Mortgage lenders are also slowly easing finance back into the system, so that the cogs of finance are progressively being oiled. This is good news for potential UK buyers in France, where property prices are probably back to where they were in 2004. In other words, there are some great bargains to be had. Many vendors have reduced their asking price quite significantly and are still open to negotiation. You can use football as a good example of how one needs to be aware of the impact of currency exchange movements.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s much publicised proposed transfer to Real Madrid was announced on the day the £ hit its highest level against the €uro for six months - and until the paperwork is signed and sealed every rise will costing the Spanish club more money. The pound hit 1.18 euros on Thursday, up from virtual parity at the end of December, and currency experts have calculated that each cent the Euro falls will cost the Spaniards an extra one million Euros. The £80million price the two clubs have agreed would have cost Real Madrid €83 million in January when the pound was much weaker, but at today’s exchange rate the same sterling amount will cost Real Madrid €93 million. The same scenario is happening to ex-pats selling property in France, and this gives buyers with cash in their pockets a great bargaining tool.
As an added incentive to get buyers into the French market, we at Allez-Francais are offering a FREE six month offer of property insurance, for buyers signing a compromis de vente between now and 31/12/2009. (This insurance would have to be arranged via our recommended insurance provider). We believe that we already offer the best option as an agency due to our v Very competitive agency fees v Very competitive currency exchange rates v 1st class service levels v Highly regarded website http://www.allez-francais.com/ v Accompanied viewings & after sales service Visit our website http://www.allez-francais.com/ to see our selection of around 300 properties.Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25

Monday, 15 June 2009

£ hits new high for the year against the €uro

The CBI (Confederation of British Industry) commented that the recession will be shorter and less severe than previously expected. The CBI believes that the pace of contraction will moderate by the end of this year and moderate growth will materialise early next year. They also scaled back their forecast for unemployment from 3.2m to 3.03m by the second quarter of 2010. However it warned that the recovery would be "slow and gradual" and it would take time to judge whether recent good news will turn into sustainable growth in the economy. This echoes the caution noted by Alistair Darling and comments from Bank Of England officials. Sterling continues to hold respectable levels across the markets, and has this morning hit a new 2009 high of 1.18 against the €uro. The Euro is under pressure this morning against the USD and sterling following an article in the Daily Telegraph reporting of warnings to be released on the credit conditions in Germany. The DIHK survey to be released this week is expected to confirm that credit conditions for large German companies are not easing despite the interest rates being cut to 1%. This will be a definitive blow for the Eurozone as it essentially affirms that the ECB have not done enough in easing credit conditions…this could lead to the ECB embracing further Quantitative Easing measures. The problem for the Eurozone and the euro is that these measures will not commence until July and could see the Eurozone sticking out like a sore thumb as other major economies drive towards receovery- this will naturally be euro negative. Good news for UK buyers in France, and 1.20 Euros to the £ is perhaps within sight. Our currency dealers offer a simple straightforward solution for all commercial Foreign Exchange requirements. Visit our website http://www.allez-francais.com Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Currency Importance

When buying property abroad, check the exchange rate - it is equally as important as negotiating the sale price. Purchasers of property abroad are always keen to negotiate a good price, but most fail to realise that they can achieve significant savings by receiving the best currency exchange rates.
Through our business partnership with a specialist brokers, we are able to offer a choice of immediate or forward contracts to secure your Euros against Sterling.
Allez França¡s has a dedicated dealer able to offer an exceptional service. A forward contract is especially worthy of consideration if a purchase is not immediate. It can be bought at a pre-determined rate from 3 days to 2 years ahead. The rates achieved will aggressively undercut High Street banks and other sources. Currency is transmitted by priority telegraphic transfer to anywhere in the world.
Our dealers offer a simple straightforward solution for all commercial Foreign Exchange requirements. Visit our Finance page to download an application form. http://www.allez-francais.com/finance.htm
Peter Elias (Agent Commercial), La Moinerie, 79500 Paizay le Tort, Deux-Sèvres, FRANCE
Tel: 00 33 (0)5 49 27 01 22 or Tel: 00 33 (0)8 77 07 58 99 Mob: 00 33 (0)6 62 28 02 25