Monday, 2 October 2017

Major tax reforms in France



A new 30% flat tax rate will be introduced for investment income from January 2018, and a new version of wealth tax will only apply to real estate, lowering tax bills for many expatriates in France.

As part of his election campaign, President Emmanuel Macron promised various tax reforms, particularly on how investment assets and income are taxed. The aim is to encourage people to save more by simplifying taxation on financial income as well as aid business growth.

The draft French budget for 2018 was presented to Parliament on 27th September 2017. A balancing act of tax and spending cuts, it includes the promised tax reforms. The budget will now work its way through parliament before being approved at the end of the year, so changes are possible.

The main measure affecting expatriates in France are summarised below.

Flat tax on investment income

Investment income is currently taxed at the scale rates of income tax, but from 1st January 2018 it will become liable to one fixed rate of 30%.

This 30% rate includes both income tax (12.8%) and social charges (17.2%).

It will only apply to investment policies over €150,000 (per person, so €300,000 for a joint policy), whether in an assurance-vie or not. Lower income households can continue to opt for the progressive income tax rates, so that they do not have to pay more tax under new system.

Assurance-vie
Note that for assurance-vie, the new system will apply to all policies set up on or after 27th September 2017, but the 30% flat rate system will not start to be applied to withdrawals until 1st January 2018. This is because the French Constitution states that 70 days have to elapse between the budget being proposed to parliament and it being approved.

While most of the reforms were expected, this early date for assurance-vie was a surprise. However, the flat rate can actually be more beneficial for individuals with a higher marginal rate of tax.

If your assurance-vie policy was set up before 27th September, the old fixed rate system is still available, as is the ability to elect to use the scaled tax system.

Policies held for more than eight years will continue to benefit from the €4,600 Prélévement Libératoire allowance (€9,200 for married couples / PACS partners).

Your assurance-vie policy will no longer be subject to wealth tax (see below).

There are no changes to the succession tax treatment of assurance-vie.

Wealth tax

From 1st January 2018, wealth tax will be abolished and a new real estate tax will be applicable. Savings and investments, including assurance-vie policies, will be exempt from this tax.

If you own or are thinking of buying investment property, it may be worth considering moving the funds into capital investments instead.

The current threshold of €1,300,000 will stay in place; the wealth tax scaled rates will apply to property, and main homes will still enjoy the 30% abatement. The 75% limit will also continue to apply.

Social charges

Social charge for all forms of income are increasing by 1.7%, as follows:

- Employment/self-employment income from 8% to 9.7%
- Pension income from 7.4% to 9.1%
- Investment income (including rental income) from to 15.5% 17.2%

Taxe d’habitation


This property tax, currently paid by most French households, will only apply to the 20% with the highest incomes.

Not yet approved


Remember that all these reforms still need to be debated and approved by parliament, and so changes are possible.








Article provided by courtesy of Blevins Franks - Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to discuss how these reforms affect you personally or for tax planning advice. The tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Luxury Property Show 27-28 October 2017

http://www.theluxurypropertyshow.com/index.html



In partnership with key sponsor Foremost Currency Group, I am delighted to let you know that Allez-Francais will be attending the Luxury Property Show at London's Olympia 27-28 October 2017.  We've also got a limited number of free tickets to give away so please contact me if you would like to register!

Once an investment niche, luxury property is now a rapidly growing market with recent data from Christies International Real Estate revealing the world’s top ten reported property sales were all priced above $100 million for the first time in the year to May 2017. Riding the wave of excitement surrounding this emerging market, the Luxury Property Show returns to London Olympia this Autumn – headed by ever-knowledgeable Director Eddie Sikora.

The show, now in its 11th year, runs from Friday 27th to Saturday 28th October and will play host to more than 50 exhibitors from around the world presenting investors with opportunities ranging from Mediterranean villas to beachside apartments in Thailand via alpine retreats in Northern Europe to luxury lofts in New York.

The exhibitors and sponsors list is long and distinguished as usual, and includes St James Place Wealth Management, Remax, Almanzora, Baker Woods, Mansion Global, Yamaha Music, Corcoran Group, Prime Properties, the International Property Awards and many more.

Alongside a wide range of exhibitors and stands the show also includes an in-depth schedule of seminars offering real world investment advice for investors ranging from those exploring the market for the first time, to seasoned professionals with global portfolios. The seminars will tackle key questions around the market including where to find the next global property hotspot to how to mitigate political risk and uncertainty. Among those delivering seminars are key industry figures and property funds.

As one key sponsor explains: “We live in a globalised world and leading investors increasingly recognise this, and build investment strategies appropriately. By taking a big picture approach – and factoring in the political and economic trends that can impact property values – those willing to do their research can make some healthy returns.

“Events like the Luxury Property Show have an increasing role to play in sowing the seeds of this market, and are a great opportunity to bring together some of the sharpest investment minds under one roof.”

Commenting ahead of the show, Eddie Sikora, Director of the show said: “Investing in property has always been a good option and, over the long-term, property investments continue to outperform other asset classes.

“With many domestic markets saturated however, and housing becoming an increasingly political concern, investors now are looking globally and focusing attention on the more exclusive end of the market – which carries less risk and where returns can be greater. Our show at the Olympia has gone from strength to strength on the back of this trend and we expect this year to be our biggest yet, bring investors and opportunities together to explore the potential of this market.”

_____________________________________________________________

The Luxury Property Show runs from 27th – 28th October at the London Olympia. For further information visit http://www.theluxurypropertyshow.com/ .

Monday, 28 August 2017

Britons continue to move to Europe – Are you one of them?



Moving to Europe is a dream for so many Britons. Some aim to retire abroad, while others cannot wait and move over while still working, or take early retirement to start the dream sooner rather than later.

What about you? Around 900,000 UK citizens are currently long-term residents of other EU countries, according to the Office for National Statistics. But will this trend continue after Brexit? The referendum led to uncertainty over whether Britons already living in Europe would keep their current rights, and also whether it would mean less new people moving over if they chose to wait until after Brexit negotiations were concluded.

In fact, we have noticed a surge in interest from people who want to leave the UK, and as soon as possible. With offices in Spain, France, Portugal, Cyprus and Malta, we are also getting enquiries from people who have not yet chosen a country and are investigating their options – but most are pretty sure they do want to leave the UK and preferably before Brexit.

Residency rights


Reassuringly, both the UK and the EU have confirmed that securing citizens’ rights is a top priority. Both sides have committed to recognise existing residency rights. So if you are already fully resident within the EU – or gain residency before a certain date – you should keep the right to stay there permanently. What we do not yet know is what the cut-off date will be, or what the residency rules will be for those who arrive after Brexit. Following the negotiations, new mutual agreements should lay out how processes like acquiring residency, visas and permits will work in a post-Brexit world. We anticipate that most countries will continue to welcome British expatriates, but the procedure may be less straightforward than today. If you want to live in the EU but are still a UK resident, you may want to secure residency soon – under current rules – rather than waiting to see what happens.

Which country?


For many people it is an easy decision; they have visited a country a few times and can happily picture themselves living there. But could the tax implications put you off? Others are still weighing up a few different countries. In this case you need to think about which country will suit you best, but also research the tax regimes as one of the factors to consider. For most of us, lifestyle is more important than how much tax you pay, but tax does play a part and tax burdens vary across countries. Some countries, like Portugal and Cyprus, have regimes in place to attract new residents and these could potentially save you considerable amounts of tax. What we suggest you do is list the countries you would like to move to in order of preference, then discuss your choices with a cross-border financial advisory firm like Blevins Franks.

You may be surprised to find that, with effective, compliant tax planning in place, the taxes in your preferred country are not as high as you imagined. With a deep understanding of the local tax regime and planning opportunities you may be able to significantly reduce your tax liabilities. This is particularly the case if you are retired and have pension and investment income, as how you hold your assets can make a big difference to how they are taxed.

Tax and estate planning tips


This is not an area for do-it-yourself tax planning. However much research you do on the internet, it will not match the knowledge and experience you get from a specialist who lives in the country and has been working with the local tax system for years and knows how to use it to your advantage. The answer for you may even be to move to one country initially to take advantage of their tax breaks, and then later move to your preferred country. You will need specialist, highly personalised advice to establish the best course of action for you.

You also need to think about when to sell assets. Weigh up whether you would be better off selling UK property and investments while still UK resident, or waiting until you are resident in your new country. It is also important to consider estate planning when moving, as each country has its own succession laws and often some form of inheritance tax, typically with very different rules to the UK. Again, these rules can often be overcome or mitigated with local knowledge and careful planning.

Cross-border financial planning can be complex at the best of times. The new global automatic exchange of information regime makes it even more important to get this right, preferably from the outset, and Brexit now adds further considerations. Specialist advice from a firm that can advise on a few countries and the interaction between regimes will be invaluable as you navigate this new world.


Article courtesy of Blevins Franks. Blevins Franks has been providing specialist financial advice to British expatriates across Europe for over forty years.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Should I have a survey report?

Some buyers – not many it has to be said, think about demanding a survey when they find their dream French house. They feel that it is the norm in the UK, and seek that extra reassurance.

Do you need that comfort blanket? Before answering, if you have a reasonable knowledge of houses you will probably back your own eyes and experience. Some agents offer the alternative of a local builder to express an opinion. The 'expert' in the bar is usually a bad idea, in our experience. If you have serious concerns you need a professional answer.

Ask the “surveyor”, (but beware they are not all surveyors), what they will report on, perhaps more importantly what is likely to be excluded and if you have any special worries, that they look at anything of particular concern or interest to you. Do ask in advance of the survey, rather than after it has been requested. In the grand scheme of things, a pre-purchase survey is a relatively small cost, typically a few thousand Euros for a medium size house. But that is a lot of money towards that new bathroom or other project that needs doing.

The Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT) – the compulsory set of reports required before you can sign a Compromis de Vente (CdV) offers a wealth of information for a buyer. Some of it is limited, and some can be a little “over the top”, but very detailed information, a good base to start with. Remember though that these reports are measurements against new build standards for today, not a diagnostic of a C18th Manoir…….. So, use with caution.

Vendors are often wary of buyers requiring surveys. It is not common practice in France, and is frequently seen as a tool to try to renegotiate the price, therefore treated with suspicion. A good agent will take time to assure their vendor that requesting a survey is in fact a positive sign, since this is an investment on your part, an indication of serious interest. But it can create friction if not handled well. Negotiation is always a skill of diplomacy and good agents will broker a deal that suits all parties, the “win / win” scenario.

So, should you have a survey report? Yes, if it gives you peace of mind when confirming your choice of property purchase. But, as a warn of caution, many buyers who request a survey, then report back to us that they are proceeding in any case, as they were aware of everything highlighted in the report ...


Monday, 17 July 2017

GBP/EUR Rallies to Three-Week High of €1.14



Last week’s high: €1.1430

Last week’s low: €1.1185

Pound Rebounds vs. Euro


After struggling for the first half of last week, GBP/EUR surged on Friday thanks (in part) to Bank of England (BoE) official Ian McCafferty. As well as asserting that he would still be voting for higher borrowing costs at the next BoE meeting, McCafferty implied that the central bank should consider winding down its quantitative easing programme. ‘Given that other central banks are thinking about it, I think it would be remiss of us not to at least think about it. I think it’s a question that needs a bit of asking.’

Meanwhile, speculation about the European Central Bank’s (ECB) plans for quantitative easing put the Euro under pressure.

According to recent reports, the ECB is planning to keep its asset purchase scheme open-ended amid concerns it may have to backtrack on tapering plans if the Eurozone economy falters.

The GBP/EUR exchange rate was also able to advance to a three-week high thanks to positive progress in the UK’s Brexit negotiations. The UK Government appeared to be taking a softer stance on the subject of the nation’s financial obligations to the EU after its exit, and this change in tone was viewed as being positive for the future progress of Brexit discussions.

Many thanks to Foremost Currency for the content of this article

Thursday, 13 July 2017

La fête nationale de la République française


Totally unrelated to property - A very important date in the French Calendar: Le Quatorze Juillet, or Bastille Day. Blue, white and red flags will be on display throughout France the French and Francophiles around the world celebrate the country’s national day. Celebrated just 10 days after America’s Independence Day, Bastille Day marks a truly important date for France.

Bastille Day originated on July 14, 1789 when a group of revolutionaries and troops stormed the medieval Bastille fortress in Paris that was at the time being used as a prison for political prisoners.

The storming of the Bastille marked the start of the French Revolution. The prison represented the hated Bourbon monarchy, and it was the end for King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette. France’s new revolutionary government ordered the Bastille prison torn down and the last stones were removed in 1790.

Today, fireworks, parades and parties mark the modern celebration of Bastille Day. Among the celebrations, there is the Bal des Pompiers or a Fireman’s Ball. This tradition, which started in the 1930s, is carried out by fire stations opening their doors to host fundraising dance parties. The money collected goes to help funding of the fire stations all over France.

Jets for the Patrouille de France fly over the Arc of Triomphe during the traditional Bastille Day parade in Paris, France. Photo by Thibault Camus/POOL/EPA


Monday, 3 July 2017

Mortgages



Many of our clients are cash purchasers. In fact probably over 90%. But even if you can purchase for cash, there are numerous advantages of taking a mortgage in France.

Borrowing money in the country of residence (typically UK Buyers for 2nd homes), often involves securing a mortgage against a main home. This means leaving less equity available for future investments or for unexpected events.

It is essential to maintain a balance between liquid assets and real estate. If you take a French mortgage, it will enable you to keep cash / liquidity in order to seize other investment opportunities.

In certain cases you could reduce exposure to French property taxes - A French mortgage has certain tax advantages (for ISF and rental income). For more information please contact a tax adviser.

We can arrange finance for the purchase up to 6 months (existing property) or 12 months (new build) after the signature at the Notaire’s office.

See https://www.allez-francais.com/finance/mortgages or contact Peter at sales@allez-francais.com to find out more…………

We have partnered with BNP Paribas International Buyers to offer mortgages for numerous projects and purposes: main home, second home or rental properties. With more than 20 years of experience, BNP Paribas International Buyers are dedicated towards assisting its international clients throughout the buying process, from the initial search for the best mortgage solution right up to the payment of the final instalment.

We have also partnered with CAFPI, France’s No 1 mortgage broker. Established now for over 40 years, they have contacts with over 100 lenders to offer the best choice of schemes and rates available. (Some not available to individuals).

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Allez-Français active now in North West France !


We have been selling houses in South West France for over 15 years now. But recent weeks have seen some top quality houses appearing on our website in the North West corner of France.

Our marketing started with a house on the Normandy landing beaches, a property that had been on the market for many months with no serious interest. We became involved, and had immediate interest, found a buyer quickly and could have sold the property two or three times over. That has led to a referral for another property and so on. We now have a very select group of outstanding properties :




Saturday, 10 June 2017

A Strong, Stable, Shambles





It hasn't quite gone according to plan for May!

Poor Theresa May; standing outside Number 10 almost a month ago she looked like the cat that got the cream. A masterstroke the media called it - perhaps she would finally be rid of her socialist foe and be left to negotiate a potentially hard British Brexit.

Yesterday the British people went to the polls to do decide who should preside over, not just Brexit negotiations, but Britain's future. It must have been an incredibly difficult evening at Conservative HQ: having orchestrated one of the very worst election campaigns in recent memory. The nerves were justified; the Conservative party lost twelve seats, Labour added twenty-nine and the Liberal Democrats added four. The result was a hung parliament: no majority for any one party, no government- strong and stable indeed.

So What Happens Now?

Three hundred and twenty-six seats are required for a party to form a majority government and, with no party able to achieve this independently, the courting process will now begin where the Conservatives and Labour will look at forming either a coalition or a loose alliance with one or more parties.

In 2010 it was the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats who hopped into bed together - a dalliance that Nick Clegg unfortunately hasn't been able to forget and neither has the people of Sheffield Hallam who decided yesterday to relieve Mr Clegg of his job.

An outright coalition with the Liberal Democrats is off the cards at this election. Tim Farron and co have said that there will be no partnerships with either Labour or the Conservatives. The Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland could be an option for the Conservatives; their ten seats could see the Tories take a majority.

Whilst the Scottish National Party could still well play a part in this saga their stalwart Alex Salmond will not. In scenes that could well have been out of the Scottish play, the Scottish Tories (having campaigned furiously in his area) managed to oust the former leader of the SNP and leave him, with Clegg, on the job hunt.

The clock has now begun for Theresa May, who will need to form a party by the 13th of June when the new parliament is set to meet, or resign; there have been calls for her to do so already. Corbyn and co will be campaigning furiously as well as the aim will be to have a government fully formed ahead of the Queen's speech - which is scheduled for the 19th of June.

What Has This Done to the Pound?



Since the exit polls yesterday evening sterling has dropped, not to the degree it did during Brexit, but by two cents against the euro and just over that against the dollar. Whilst this drop is disappointing for anyone looking at purchasing another currency with pounds, it is worth bearing in mind that, towards the end of last year, GBP/EUR was nearly three and half cents lower.

With this fresh spate of uncertainty it will be worth contacting your account manager here at Foremost Currency Group today to discuss any potential requirements you may have. With no stability in government, and Britain beginning the negotiating process with the EU in just over a week, it is definitely worth assessing your options and discussing strategy with your contact here today.

Today's Announcements


Today, any developments from this morning's election result could have a bearing on sterling; so we could see some volatility over the course of the London session. Today there are also a number of eco-stats from the UK, including: Trade Balance figures, Industrial and Manufacturing Production numbers and Consumer Inflation Expectations. The UK will also publish a GDP estimate later this afternoon. This morning Germany published mixed Trade Balance figures themselves and there are a handful of minor releases from the States. There was a published decline in Australian Home Loans last night and no major economic releases issued from New Zealand.

Blog commentary provided by Foremost Currency

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Just the business ...



From time to time we have a run on a particular style of property, whether that be water mills, or farmhouses etc. At the moment, we have some really fabulous business opportunities in the form of Bed & Breakfast / Gîtes properties.

Having the combination of the 2 of course means that you are not exposed to one particular type of market. Chambre d’hôtes generally means having somebody sharing your living space, but some properties have flexible accommodation that lends itself to this sort of business, whilst retaining your own privacy. Having a business of this type in France is generally easy to register, and gets you into the healthcare system as well. Tax returns are not over complicated, and you can set your seasons to suit your rhythm of life.

My selection of properties for you :



https://biz.allez-francais.com/property/P9806 B & B + Gite + Pool 665,600 €

https://biz.allez-francais.com/property/P9796 B & B + Gite + Pool 595,000 €

https://biz.allez-francais.com/property/P9645 B & B + Gite + Shop 495,850 €


A few tips :
  • Location, Location, Location so very important.
  • Make sure people can find you! If they arrive late at night with no GPS and you are down a remote track in the back of beyond, inevitably you will not get off to a good start.
  • Be within easy reach of an Airport. If guests need to travel much over an hour it will hurt your bookings.
  • From the income you generate you will need to pay taxes, social charges, insurance, local tax de séjour, plus the running costs. If you need a mortgage / loans then don’t expect French banks to loan money for this type of business. If you have some other income, such as a pension or investments then you will be may find a lender.

All of our properties with business potential can be found at https://biz.allez-francais.com



Thursday, 1 June 2017

A new president and another election


So we have a new French President, in the youthful figure of Emmanuel Macron, who also speaks excellent English. He has a previous career that includes a spell as a philosophy student, an investment banker, and a minister of economy. He is seen as the last great French hope for a European future based on a common market and a common morality, a single currency and a singular commitment to the continent’s core values.

Meanwhile in the UK, Labour continue to narrow the gap on the Conservatives with one recent YouGov poll putting them within five points of Theresa May's party. This has impacted upon the £, making French houses more expensive for UK buyers, as the currency markets hate uncertainty. As I prepare this newsletter the FTSE 100 closes at record high and the pound has hit a two-month low against the Euro. Not long now to wait for the final outcome, and then hopefully, a rest from elections!

We have started a series of articles that will be featured in our Library pages (see https://www.allez-francais.com/library). We work with leading International companies to provide the best advice to our clients, and if you would like more information please contact me by e-mail sales@allez-francais.com and I can put you in contact with the most relevant expert. I can also share with you the rest of the series of articles before they are actually published. For UK buyers who are particularly worried about the consequences of Brexit we have a great feature here https://www.allez-francais.com/library/buyers/e-u-position-post-brexit

Monday, 29 May 2017

Biggest isn't always best ...



You may have noticed that our agency keeps a steady portfolio of around 250 active properties. That is because we work as 5 teams within our business, and the number of properties that we offer is to maximise our management of these properties, and with the goal of achieving a sale as quickly as possible.

Some agents have as many as 16,000 + properties ……..

We have made a comparison between ourselves and this particular agent, using their own figures :

Sales generated 2015 – 1,251 sales on average of 16,000 properties = 7.7% success ratio
AF Sales generated 2015 – 56 sales on average of 250 properties = 22.4% success ratio

Sometimes biggest isn’t best.

Allez-Français – Award Winners

Our dedicated in-house research team have spent the past 2 months scouring the resources available to them to put together a shortlist of the firms we believe stand out as clear examples of the continent’s crème-de-la-crème, the companies that, through their diligence, innovation and ethics showcase the strengths of the European business world.

Our team put forward Allez-Français as a clear winner and the award itself is yours and freely given for you to use and promote as you see fit.

Daniel Hornsby – Research Executive i-invest



Sunday, 14 May 2017

More success stories with our Exclusives


It is with increasing frequency that we are obtaining sole agency mandats, and then backing that up with a sale. 7 of our last 15 listings have been registered on this basis.

All of our “exclusive” properties are shown here : https://www.allez-francais.com/for-sale/exclusives



Why does this work so well?

An “Exclusive Mandat de Vente” signifies a stronger commitment to work together between the vendor & the estate agent. Because we are guaranteed to receive our fees upon sale, we are inevitably more motivated than ever and we can justify a larger advertising budget to promote the property. This means that we will advertise your property on additional internet property portals and also in selected printed media.

Because the property is only being offered for sale by Allez-Français, it will only ever be advertised for sale at one “fees included” price – and this helps to protect a vendor’s asking price. We have complete control over the complete marketing process enabling us to manage the viewings, buyer expectations and negotiations more effectively.

An exclusive agency agreement does not preclude Allez-Français from working with any other agents that may have a potential buyer - in fact we welcome it if it assists with a sale.




Monday, 24 April 2017

French election result helps the euro


Despite UK retail figures coming in well under the predicted level on Friday morning, the pound still managed to finish the week trading around 1.5% higher against the euro, the first time the GBP/EUR cross has ended a week above €1.19 since 16th December.

The latest retail numbers did initially dent sterling’s value, however the GBP/EUR cross quickly rebounded, with the pound still benefitting from Theresa May’s surprise election announcement last Tuesday and investors treading carefully ahead of yesterday’s French election.

GBP/EUR graph before the French election


As Friday drew to a close the euro was edging lower across the board as markets prepared for the first round of France’s Presidential election. Although Friday’s polls suggested Emmanuel Macron was leading the race, it seemed investors were concerned about far-left candidate Marine Le Pen gaining momentum following another terrorist attack in Paris during the early hours of Friday morning.

However, last night’s election result has seen the euro strengthen across the board with the GBP/EUR cross falling two cents after the markets preferred candidate Macron finished ahead of Le Penn in the first round of voting.

With the euro strengthening the GBP/EUR cross fell from €1.1950 to €1.1757, while EUR/USD broke through the $1.08 barrier and is currently trading at €1.0845.

GBP/EUR graph after the French election


For the past few months the polls have shown Len Pen leading the way, but Sunday’s result now puts Macron as clear favourite ahead of the final vote it two weeks’ time.

Despite the fall for GBP/EUR it is not all doom and gloom. The pound is still trading around four cents higher than a month ago, and yesterday’s move only takes us back to the levels we witnessed before Theresa May’s election announcement last week.





Sunday, 23 April 2017

Understanding fees (honoraires)

One of the most talked about subjects concerning house purchase in France, are the fees, both the size of the fee and who pays them.

If you are purchasing through an Estate Agency it is worth pointing out that whoever pays the commission, (seller or purchaser), the price of the property remains the same. The price is determined by the mandat de vente, and this specifies 3 figures, a price net to the vendor, the amount of the commission, and the price including the agency fees, or marketing price. This was formerly shown as FAI, but is now more correctly HAI (Honoraires d’Agence Inclus).

Some purchasers think that if the seller is paying the commission they are saving money, (if only), and some sellers think that it is a burden on them to them to pay the commission, (again not true). If the seller is to pay the commission then it because the mandat de vente is signed with an inclusive price and the commission will be deducted from the sale proceeds.

Many agents use a vendor paying the fee mandat to hide the amount of commission from their advertisements. Unless the sales details clearly state the amount or percentage of the fees, then it is likely that the property is being sold using a vendor fee mandat. The alternative is that the agency is not complying with the letter of the law. *

You might be fooled into thinking that it doesn’t matter about the wordings on the mandats, but you would be wrong! Below is an example that I have just shown a client, highlighting the difference between what a buyer would pay purchasing through us, against another agency also selling the property :



Allez-FrancaisOther Agency
Price to Vendor350000350000
Fees paid by Buyer21000
Fees paid by Seller24000
Price HAI *371000374000
Notary fees estimated2600027700
Total Price397000401700

In this case, our fees are slightly lower, but the important factor here is that because the other agency is using a “vendor mandate” then the Notary fees and stamp duty are calculated on a higher figure also, 374,000 in this case, rather than 350,000. Previously, it was common practice by some agents in the case of the purchaser paying the commission to get the buyer to sign a Mandat de Recherche with the Estate Agency. The aim of this practice was to reduce these legal costs. This practice is now illegal.

So, as you can see, a bit of knowledge is a powerful tool. Check the ads and make sure you understand who pays the fees – you could save several thousand Euros.

*Since 1st April 2017, agents have to show clearly on their website and in their offices, their “bareme” or scale of fees. Ours is on our home page. In addition, advertisements must specify the amount of fees payable where the buyer is paying the fee, but this does not apply where the vendor pays the fee.





Monday, 3 April 2017

Brexit, Currency and Clouded Thinking


The debate surrounding Brexit is largely informed by confirmation bias, which is a tendency to search for, and interpret information, in a way that confirms one’s pre-existing beliefs. Those that voted Remain may bury themselves in the pages of the Guardian, BBC or Independent that give warnings of economic doom and nurture the idea that the whole thing can be undone. It cannot.

Equally those that voted to leave may ignore the pitfalls of leaving the EU, including information and evidence that leaving the EU will be bad for the economy, viewing Brexit through rose tinted glasses, the Telegraph, Express or Daily Mail. Again, any good news is seen as defying ‘Project Fear’ when actually, the true cost and effects of Brexit on the economy are unknown, and will remain so for some time.

The reality is that there will be both positives and negatives; whether the positives will outweigh the negatives remain to be seen, and we have a few years to wait before we know what the UK economy, and our relationship with the EU, will be like once we leave the EU in 2 years. Only then will we all know whether the benefits will outweigh the costs in the long term. A Conservative MP last week recalled the words of Sir Francis Drake in wishing Theresa May good luck and fortune in the negotiations, that I thought apt: “There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.”

The negotiations will be bitter and will focus on both the exit terms and interim agreement on trade, before a final trade agreement is reached, that may well take longer than 2 years. The veto that the EU have given Spain over Gibraltar illustrates how one issue can jeopardise the entire unanimous agreement we need to get a deal. While the negotiations are ongoing, Sterling will be susceptible to commentary that will be coming from the UK government and the EU, and any indications as to how the negotiations are unfolding will likely have a big impact on the value of Sterling against other currencies. If you think that the last 9 months were volatile for the currency markets, brace yourself, as the next 2 years are likely to be even more so. Let’s hope that the both the UK & EU abide by Article 8 of the Lisbon treaty that is in the interests of both parties: “The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.”

Confirmation bias can also be seen when our clients make very important financial decisions regarding fixing an exchange rate. A client that needs to buy a large amount of Euros, for a property purchase for example, will obviously want the exchange rate to go up. They may then search the internet and read news reports for information that validates their hope that this may happen. In exactly the same way, a client that needs to convert funds back to Sterling will give more weight and credence to anything that suggests the Pound may weaken while filtering out any information to the contrary. It’s natural to want to make the most of your currency but with this bias subtly affecting your decision making, it may not be the best way to go about it.

It’s here that Foremost Currency Group can help. We don’t only offer exceptional rates of exchange, we offer a full consultative service to help understand your requirements, time-frames and attitude to risk, to be able to explain the different options you can consider. When you need to exchange currency your decision process is likely driven by your heart and not your head. Our expert brokers do not have the same emotional attachment to your trade, and can therefore provide a clearer view of what is happening based on facts, not hope. In this way you can ensure that confirmation bias is not working insidiously inside your mind, potentially skewing your view on the timing of your trade.

Written by:
Alastair Archbold
FX Manager - Foremost Currency Group
T: 01442 892 066


Monday, 27 March 2017

Brexit starts this week...sterling in for more volatility

Those of you that have been following the currency markets will be well aware of the affect that last year’s EU referendum has had on the value of the pound. On the eve of the vote, sterling was trading at 1.30 against the euro and 1.50 against the dollar, but now sits around 12% lower against the single currency and is over 20% down on the US dollar.

The prospect of a hard Brexit has been weighing heavily on the pound. In the build-up to the election, Brexiteers had been proposing a Norway-style trade deal with the EU, in which the UK retained access to the single market in return for a fee. However, over the last few months it has become clear that the UK government would not be pursuing this option, favouring immigration controls over access to the single market, and the pound has weakened significantly as a result.

The financial services sector relies heavily on this access and the financial markets don’t like the prospect of a hard Brexit. This sector accounts for around 15% of UK GDP and giving up tariff-free access to this market is likely to have a hugely detrimental effect on UK economic output.

EU sceptics are often quick to highlight the economic fragility of the currency bloc, citing Greek debt issues and Spanish unemployment. However, the reality is somewhat different. Inflation in the bloc is now rising, unemployment is falling, and the ecostats are now starting to paint a much rosier picture. In fact, the Spanish economy is actually growing at a faster pace than the UK economy.

It’s surely only a matter of time before the European Central Bank begin a normalisation of monetary policy, raising interest rates as inflation continues to rise. The Bank’s aggressive quantitative easing programme finally seems to be working and I wouldn’t be surprised to see further euro strength once it becomes clear that Marine le Pen stands no chance of winning the French elections.

Article courtesy of Foremost Currency


Saturday, 25 March 2017

Changes for gîte activities

The Finance Act for 2017 was adopted by the French Parliament on 20 December 2016 and was published in the French Official Journal on 30 December, 2016.

But what many will not have noticed is that the legislation included a provision for social contributions to be paid on furnished lettings – i.e. gîte activity. Previously, social contributions were only payable where furnished rentals were operated as & “professional” activity.

From January 2017, if your annual turnover exceeds 23,000 € you will be liable to the new contributions. This will require owners to register with either RSI or CPAM.

The legislation was changed at the 11th hour, after much lobbying by French hoteliers, principally because of internet platforms such as Airbnb, and therefore exact requirements are still not clear.

But be prepared, the cotisations are coming, and will be due once your income exceeds 23,000 €. It may be worth exploring changing your classification to “meublé de tourisme”, but that cannot be done part way through the fiscal year.

Best advice is to talk to your accountant if this concerns you. If you want to do some homework beforehand visit http://www.assistant-juridique.fr/regime_fiscal_gites.jsp (in French).





Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Golf properties in the Dordogne


We have just started to advertise a small number of quality properties on a superb golf domain in the ever popular Dordogne. Set within 360 hectares of beautiful French countryside, these tastefully restored houses are for sale fully furnished, with the benefit of a 9-hole golf course and many other services are available throughout the year.

Priced from 255,000 - 390,000 Euros. If you can’t find the exact property of your dreams, there is also the opportunity to purchase a plot of land and have your own property built (subject to approval).

Inspected by Nigel Cowles & myself recently, the domain received their seal of approval, especially for the quality of the environment and the concept of the project.

















For further information of a viewing trip (highly recommended) contact nigel@allez-francais.com

Friday, 3 March 2017

A New Life in the Sun

Allez-Français have been approached by the Producers of Channel 4s “A New Life in the Sun” TV programme to send details of clients thinking about making the move from the UK to France.

In particular, they are looking to feature people who are just entering their first season in the new business, searching for businesses or who may have been set up for some time but about to enter a new challenge, as well as people who are just at the very beginning of their journey and are looking to buy a property and start their new life in the sun.

They are particularly interested in upmarket and aspirational businesses/property – and we have plenty of those.

Contact either Peter Elias to advise of your interest – sales@allez-francais.com or anewlifeinthesun@truenorth.tv


Sunday, 26 February 2017

Making the Difference

One property sale agreed last week has provoked me to analyse the difference between us and a typical French agency. So there will be some self-congratulations in this piece, but for that I make no apology!







Situation – one very attractive 4 bed detached Maison de Maître, with a heated pool, set in extensive gardens of 4 ha, competitively priced just below 250,000 €. On the market for a year or so, a few visits, one offer but nothing ever signed. The French agents had the usual A4 display in their window, an advert on-line on their own website, plus a few on-line adverts on generally free websites in France. At this point, I would add that there is generally a reason that websites are free, and it isn’t because they sell lots of houses. The wording / descriptive for the property ran to less than 5 complete lines, a selection of images, some of which were duplicated.

Our involvement – I contacted the owner, who does not live in the property but in Holland, and by e-mail we arranged to take a mandat for the sale, after I convinced him that we had potential buyers for the property. Because of the distances involved, it took a full week for the property to be properly registered on our books, and a few more days for me to gain access and a key. In the interim, I started to contact our active buyers with that sort of budget, sending images taken by the owner, (and smartened a bit in Photoshop). Over 150 e-mails later, and many phone calls, there were clearly some very interested clients who were “pre-registered” with us. Then the property was loaded on to the AF website, pictures optimised, and a thorough descriptive prepared. The property was featured in a newsletter going out to 20,000 registered customers, and then an advert was placed in French Property News.

Within 24 hours of obtaining the key, we had 6 viewings booked over the period of a long weekend, another agent working in collaboration with us, and we fielded 10 calls on the first day for this property. The 1st viewing took place on Friday morning, and within an hour a full-price offer was on the table, with no strings attached, thereby securing the deal. By the afternoon, a Proposition d’Achat had been signed by the buyers, and countersigned by the vendor.

The other agent is now puzzled as to how we concluded a deal so quickly……….

The owners comment:
“It is surprise for me to receive a bid in line with the asking price. And so quickly! I thank you for being terribly efficient.
Buyers comment before the visit:
“Thank you for sending us the 2 series of pictures, we appreciate to be able to see it as it is now and the owners pictures from the summer, but we can see in winter the location is beautiful. We look forward to the visit and meeting you as arranged”.



Wednesday, 15 February 2017

A flat in London or Paris, or a château in S W France?


The financial centres are amongst many looking closely at where they have their international offices based following UK’s Brexit decision. HSBC are rumoured to be amongst many banks planning to relocate many staff from London to Paris, but where do those staff decide to live?

For the price of an apartment in the suburbs of London or Paris, you could escape the crowds and own a château of your own in the recently renamed Nouvelle Aquitaine, in the suburbs of Brive-la-Gaillarde, serviced by Brive-Vallee de la Dordogne International aéroport. 3 flights per day each way ensure that can you opt for a relaxed lifestyle away from the stresses of big city life. At the weekend you can relax at the theatre, watch Top XIV rugby, or just chill out at home.

Brive is a wonderful city with a bustling market, 2 Michelin star restaurants (Castel Novel & La Table d'Olivier), a wonderful theatre (Les Treize Arches) and so much more to offer, such as the Lac du Causse nearby. All this for £775,000 – amazing! 

Full details can be found here : http://prestige.allez-francais.com/property/P9512

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Introducing Adam Stickland



Introducing our new agent - Managing the Périgord Noir is Adam Stickland. For a long time, the Périgord Noir has been a bit of a black-hole for our company. Nikki & Richard Morford cover the area to the north, (Périgord Vert & parts of Périgord Blanc), whilst to the west Dan Arnold covers the Bergerac area (Périgord Poupre & parts of Périgord Blanc). To the east, Peter Elias manages the properties close to Brive and the Dordogne Valley.

Previously a sales and marketing consultant, Adam speaks English, French, Spanish and some Japanese! Having previously worked as an agent in Andalusia, he now services an area including popular favourites, with villages such as Domme, Saint-Cyprien, Le Bugue, Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil , Montignac, Terrasson and, of course, the world-famous Sarlat-la-Canéda.


Consequently, we are on the lookout for quality properties, (price range starting at 250,000 Euros and above).

Contact details - Adam Stickland: 0780 33 76 89 or e-mail adam@allez-francais.com


PerigordS

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Gîtes for under 450k€

We've been putting together a selection of properties in certain groups - these gîtes are all priced under 450,000€ and for sale in south west France.

For any more information - please email me sales@allez-francais.com

Bargain price for this small gite complex, close to Elephant Haven — in Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Top of Form!

The France Show held at Olympia in London always kick starts the year for French agents, so we expect to be busy in the months ahead. What is encouraging from our perspective is that we are already busy, and receiving plenty of enquiries from clients with excellent budgets. Most are from the UK, and determined to make their move to France regardless of Brexit, but many are also from the USA and Continental Europe.

We are matching those clients’ expectations with some wonderful new listings, and in the first 10 take-ons this year, we have 3 below 250k, 5 in the sector between 250-500k, 1 over 500k and one whopper at 14.9 million ... More of course, are in the pipeline, and several are exclusive to our agency.

Many clients are rate aware, and think that the £ is low currently (1.17 at the time of writing). It is important to point out that the average rate over the past 5 years has only been 1.20 and the days when rates were above 1.40 were very brief. However, it is that rate of 1.40 odd that many remember too well. Our dedicated currency dealers can assist here with a range of contracts, some for today and some for the future. Adam Bobroff and Tom Taylor will help you with your specific requirements.

Don’t forget to give us plenty of warning for your viewing visits. We can ensure your success by helping organise your visit. Too many clients try to fit too many properties in to their schedules, and often fail to appreciate the distances between houses sometimes. Talking to your Allez-Français agent in plenty of time will help your success rate. We may even have a cash-back reward for you, if you remember our previous offer!!




image © BrianAJackson