Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Steady French property sales to UK buyers following Brexit vote

“Many of our UK-based clients who were already considering a move to France now feel uneasy about the UK and see its economy suffering,” he says. “For some, the vote to leave has cemented their personal desire to make the move to France happen. The sooner the better in most cases: many have brought forward plans for a five-year ‘escape’ and made it into a 12-month project.”

Read the full version of this article on page 10 of the September issue of French Property News

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Selling a property in France – agency or private ?

I was recently asked about estate agencies in France and how selling fees are managed. Most agencies advertise their houses to include agency fees, (Price FAI) – as we do at Allez-Francais.

One or two agents advertise the property fully inclusive of all fees, (including agency & notary fees). However, this can be overly complicated, as prices may include fixtures & fittings, which would normally be excluded from notary fees.

Agency fees do also vary, sometimes quite considerably. Typically between 6 to 8%, which means that a house with a price net of 250,000 could be advertised anywhere between 265,000 and 270,000.

The agency fees are set out in the mandate which all agents have to have in order to market the property legally. The terms of the mandate will specify who pays the fees, either the vendor or the buyer, but in reality, because almost all properties are advertised to include the agency fees, it is effectively the buyer who pays.

There are a number of websites encouraging people to try and sell properties privately in France. On the face of it, this saves on agency fees and that money seems better off in the buyer's pocket than that of an agent.

However, not only can sales be slow, this can also be a huge mistake with legal and complicated repercussions. For example, items that should be listed in the Compromis de Vente (CDV) can be easily overlooked, and come completion day, the buyers are cursing their course of action as they haven’t got everything that they expected ... or worse.

On average, Allez-Francais fees are always highly competitive and we also offer the option of an exclusive mandat - which is of particular interest to any owners hoping for a quicker sale.

For details of the different Mandates we offer, please contact me

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Guest blog: The Complexity of Expat Finances

One of the biggest challenges that expatriates face when moving to and living in France is the complexity of expat finances. According to HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey, 75% of respondents (9,288 respondents worldwide) say that their finances have become more complicated since they left their home country and this can be especially true in France with the complex inheritance and tax rules. Add to this, problems with understanding language and it can soon become difficult to know where to turn.

Many expats don’t consider all aspects of their finances before, during and after moving abroad; therefore making organising their financial affairs even more difficult than it needs to be. What are the common mistakes made by many?

1. Living beyond your means

The excitement of starting a life in a new location, integrating with the local culture, building or renovating a new home (always unforeseen expenses) and making new friends can affect your spending behaviour. How far does your income/investments go to cover this lifestyle? Am I planning far enough ahead for my/my children’s future?

2. Banking, local or overseas

It is of course imperative that you open a local bank account in your new country of residence to assist with your day-to-day financial needs. What then - what other needs do you have and what products are suitable for you now you are in France? Like in the UK, France has many tax efficient savings and investment solutions (Assurance Vie as an example).

Should I maintain accounts in my home country or consider alternative locations? It’s important to get this part right to ensure you are aligning everything in a tax effective manner and getting the best service/returns for your money.

3. Not getting your tax right

Many expats forget to inform their home country’s tax agency of their decision to move abroad, thus failing to change their tax status. In the UK, aspiring expats should inform HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) of their intention to move abroad and submit a completed P85 form. This is crucial for expats to ensure that they will not be sought after for tax, claim tax relief or any tax refund they are owed and become non-UK resident to avoid tax on certain incomes. If you are a UK expat and want to learn more about getting your tax right now you have moved abroad, visit HMRC’s website or speak to a regulated financial adviser.

4. Not researching the laws of inheritance in the country you are moving to

Every country has its own way of taxing people’s wealth after they have left this world. Leaving the UK, contacting HMRC and completing the P85 form does not remove your Inheritance Tax liability to the UK; but on top of this you are likely to have a liability on the assets you hold in the country where you now reside and this is certainly true in France, potentially up to 60% Inheritance Tax liability. Careful financial planning is required to ensure that you get to leave your wealth to your loved ones in the most tax efficient way possible.

5. Neglecting your pensions

Ok, so by this time you know how much you need (or know what you are spending) to maintain the lifestyle you have always dreamed of (or become accustomed to); you have the appropriate banking facilities in place and have notified HMRC in the correct manner; you have also looked into your inheritance tax obligations and fully understand what this is likely to look like for your family.

Next you would be advised to review your pensions; we have all been educated over our working careers that we must set aside monies to be able to live a comfortable life in retirement. So what should I do with what has been accumulated? How do the new Pension Reforms in the UK affect me? What options outside of the UK could have advantages such as QROPS etc.

6. Getting the services of unregulated financial planners

One mistake expats make is believing that their financial adviser is regulated in their new country of residence. You need to ask the question and complete your own due diligence; the Internet is a great place to start. If your financial adviser is regulated appropriately then you should be able to see this via the countries regulator; i.e. the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK or the Financial Services Commission in Gibraltar – this is not sufficient in itself if you live in a country outside of these – the Financial Adviser must have the relevant ‘Passporting’ permissions to provide advice in your country of residence – again this information should be well documented on the Regulator’s website.

7. Poor investment choices

Making poor investment choices is, to some extent, relevant to the previous mistake, which is getting the services of unregulated advisers, especially in countries with lax policies on regulation. Many expats make investment choices based on the advice of insufficiently regulated financial planners. It is imperative that you understand that your adviser is regulated, has the appropriate licences/permissions to advise you in the location you are in and hold sufficient Personal Indemnity cover. Failure to do so could leave you with a difficult task should it be necessary to complain about your investment choices/performance.

Do you recall your parents telling you ‘You made your bed, you lie in it’ – well it doesn’t quite have to be like that! You wouldn’t jump out of a plane without a parachute, so why continue without the necessary tools to help you make wise financial choices. The key, as always, is to educate yourself and to take control of your own financial future, but when your situation becomes too complex, you can always get the expertise of a planner to help you organise your finances in your native language. If you are an expat, or if you are just about to become one or have made these mistakes and need help organising your finances, speak to a qualified financial adviser.

Guest article by: Rosemary Sheppard
Blacktower Financial Management (International) Limited

Cycle for Life 2016

From 11 – 16 September 2016 a 300km cycle ride will take place alongside the Canal de Garonne from Bordeaux to Toulouse.

The event is organised to raise funds and awareness for Cancer Support France (CSF), a network of registered associations helping English-speakers in France (and their families) affected by cancer. Hundreds of trained volunteers provide a complete range of services and support, whether that's someone to talk to, someone to make home-visits, accompany or drive people to consultations, or simply translate.

We at Allez-Francais are very proud to be an official sponsor for this event in 2016, and our very own Nigel Cowles, agent for properties in the Charente area, might also be taking part !

Finishing in the pink city of Toulouse on Friday 16 September, the cycle ride is a flagship event for a new initiative - Activity for Life - and CSF associations will be organising events all around France. To find one near you, see

Cycle for Life is a fun event and definitely not a race. Following the success of a similar event along the Canal du Midi in 2015, the organisers expect this to be a very social occasion with plenty of laughs at the lunch spots and bicycle banter along the way. The event is free to join, and participants can choose to take part in the full event, or cycle for just one or two days.

For more information or to sign-up, visit - or follow the updates on their Facebook page

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A “champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget"

Fractional ownership offers a “champagne lifestyle on a lemonade budget” because it allows people to “own” an overseas holiday home on a relatively small outlay – a fraction of the overall cost.

As of today, we have some “fractions” for sale of apartments within a superb Chateau near to Limoges priced at just £36,000. The fractions also benefit from a 10 year Buy Back guarantee offered by the developer. Fractional ownership means that you literally own a fraction of the property, in this case 1/12th. This allows you to purchase something way beyond your normal means.

Please find below a summary of the deal:
  1. Price £36,000 (the price on our website is a guide in Euros, but the actual cost is in Sterling)
  2. Rental 2 years at 10% (Paid from day 1), then an equal share of the profit
  3. 150% Developer Buy Back option, year 10
  4. A minimum of 2 weeks has to be put into the rental scheme each year due to the leaseback scheme
  5. In first 2 years possible personal use for up 2 weeks and just pay for ownership costs for the weeks used and still get a rental return.
  6. Year 3 onwards receive an equal share of the rental profit and provided you offer at least 3 weeks each year into rental scheme – developer guarantee all costs will be covered or they pay the shortfall.

The properties for sale in this luxury golf and spa resort can be fully managed and maintenance free, offering buyers a hassle-free experience.

This leaves you free to relax and enjoy the amazing facilities exclusive to the retreat, including a professionally designed 18-hole golf course, world-class spa complex and even a luxury hotel with a fantastic restaurant.

See and also where there is also a fly through video of the resort.

Full details, viewing visits from £149 / person – contact me on

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Fractional ownership near Limoges

A Fractional ownership opportunity at a Chateau in France for only £36,000

See and also where there is also a fly through video of the resort.

Wyndham Halcyon Retreat is luxurious golf and spa resort for the entire family with a Louis XIII style hotel, the carefully renovated 17th century chateau, an 18-hole golf course and world-class spa. In addition, there will also be a selection of private residences throughout the resort available for ownership. The French properties for sale are located on beautiful grounds amidst lush countryside in the country’s stunning Lake District. Bordered by glistening lakes and an established arboretum and nestled into rolling open countryside, the location of the resort couldn’t be more perfect. Channel Four’s ‘A place in the Sun’ has named the Limousin region in France as the 5th best place to buy abroad due to its “beautiful scenery and quiet farming villages as yet relatively undiscovered”.

Spanning a massive 220 acres, the grounds of French chateau are dotted with tree-lined paths, glimmering lakes and manicured gardens. Bordered on one side by one of the country’s finest and best stocked fishing lakes and on another by an established arboretum, the setting of this chateau is amazing.

The main residence, the lavish and historic French chateau, has been converted into an elegant and character-filled luxury hotel with only 19 suites. The ground floor of the chateau, with its majestic panelling, period frescos and towering windows will be home to the Retreat’s grand reception room, luxury restaurant and Sommelier’s fine wine bar. The other floors offer luxury hotel accommodation with 19 suites.

The French spa will be the centrepiece of the resort. The unique and enchanting 16th century ‘Petit Chateau’, set in an idyllic plot, approximately 250 metres from the main residence, will be home to the resort’s exclusive spa. The Spa will be designed by the internationally renowned Spa design company Blue Spa. The property is set to become one of Europe’s top spa destinations. The 18-hole golf course will meander around the grounds and lakes with the last hole at the main chateau. There are two fully-stocked fishing lakes, the larger lake being one of the best fishing lakes in the region.

See and also where there is also a fly through video of the resort.

  • Choice of stunning lake view luxury rooms
  • 10% NET for 2 years immediate return-plus option to use up to 2 weeks and just pay costs
  • Equal share of the rental profit year 3 onwards
  • No ownership costs option. Use for 1 week and give 3 weeks back to rental scheme and we guarantee all your costs are covered and there is a shortfall the developer pays them.
  • Just £180 Fractional Ownership Charge (FOC) payable each year.
  • Furniture and completion costs included
  • Optional 150% Developer Buyback in year 10Fully managed
  • 12th Fraction of a luxury chateau room for just £36,000 (fractional ownership).
Discounted viewing trips available at £149, Subject to availability and terms conditions apply.
The chateau will be used as part of Wyndhams worldwide marketing campaign directing customers to the stunning chateau meaning higher occupancy and room rates and good news for all owners!