Monday, 12 August 2019

Brexit – a reality check for UK citizens with a holiday home in France




Main points

• After Brexit, as a British citizen living in the UK you will lose your EU citizenship and free movement.
• You'll become a third country national - and you'll be treated to a new location in New Zealand, Chile, Morocco or anywhere else in the non-EU world.
• This will happen from the end of the transition period, 31 December 2020, if an exit deal is agreed.
• If the UK exits the EU with no deal, it will happen from Brexit day.

• All British citizens living in the UK and wanting to travel to the Schengen area will need to register under the ETIAS scheme - the European Travel Information and Authorization System.
• This is a new and completely new electronic system, which is expected to be in place by 2020, which permits and keeps track of which countries do not need to enter the Schengen Zone.
• Its prime function is security, but it is also designed to help manage borders and impede irregular immigration. Registration will be done online.

Those who live between the UK and France though are in a vulnerable position. You might need to do some tough thinking - and do it fast.

Many people, especially those with second homes in France, have been used to coming and going without restriction, often spending 6 months every year in France and 6 months back in the UK, being careful to ensure that they're not out of the UK for more than 183 days a year and therefore keeping their UK residence intact. If you're someone who's done this yourself, it might come as a shock to find out that you're quite possibly 'unlawfully resident' in France for several months each year even though you have the right to free movement within the EU. Why?

Because as an EU citizen, you're permitted to spend only 3 consecutive months in another EU country without exercising treaty rights and becoming legally resident. So if you arrive each year on, say, 1 March, you can stay until the end of May without formality and with just your passport. But from 1 June, if you want to continue staying legally in France you can only do so if you meet certain conditions. The bottom line is that you've 'got away with it' previously because France is the only EU27 country not to require EU citizens to report their presence after 3 months in the country - and because there are no real immigration controls at airports or Channel ports.

As a 3rd Country National, you will be able to spend 90 days in every 180 days in the Schengen area. So if you arrive at your French house on 1 March, you can stay there until the end of May. Then you must return to the UK for another 3 months before you can travel again, so you would not be able to return before September. During the 'home' period between June to September, you wouldn't be able to take any short trips to any of the other Schengen countries either, as the 90/180 day rule applies to the entire Schengen area, not just to any one country within it. So no quick Ryanair city breaks in between times.

But isn't this just a return to how things were before the UK joined the EU?

If you currently live for part of the year in France but are still resident (for fiscal and all other purposes) in the UK, you basically have some tough choices to make. And just to make things totally clear - you can apply for a Carte de Séjour ONLY if you're exercising treaty rights and are legally resident in France.

Here are your choices:

1. You can remain as a British resident and accept that your visits to France will have to be restricted to 90 days in every 180 days.

OR

2. If you want to stay longer than 90 days at a time in France after Brexit day or end of transition, you can go through the immigration process in France. In a nutshell, this is what you'd have to do as a Third Country National:

• before you leave the UK you'd need to apply to the French Consulate in the UK for a long stay visa;
• once arrived in France, you would have 2 months to apply for a titre de séjour.
• If you're retired or otherwise inactive, you would probably apply for a card entitled 'Visitor' which doesn't allow you to work. You'd need to show evidence of 'sufficient and stable resources' - this is higher for Third Country Nationals than for EU citizens and is currently set at 1204€ per month for one person.
• For a visitor's titre de séjour note that you do NOT need to show evidence of health cover, although if after 5 years you want to apply for a carte de resident longue durée you would need to do so. The cost of a visitor's titre de séjour is currently 269€ and the card lasts for one year; it's renewable, and to renew you'd need to show the same evidence as for an initial application.


For more details, use this link to take you to the official government web page: https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F302

OR

3. You can consider becoming legally resident in France before the end of transition on 31 December 2020 (if there is a leaving deal) or before Brexit day (if the UK leaves the EU with no deal) and therefore having your residence and other rights protected under the Withdrawal Agreement or under France's national no deal contingency plan.
But it's not just as simple as the amount of time you spend here - to be exercising your treaty rights and therefore legally resident means that you must shift your entire life to France - where you pay your tax, where you are registered for health care and all the rest.

You can't cherry pick here - residence means residence, to paraphrase a well known PM! What you'd be doing is moving everything to France: your fiscal residence, your health care, your home, the centre of your life. If you then want to travel back to the UK, you would do so as a French resident and you'd then have to look at how, as a French resident, you deal with the nuts and bolts of your life in the UK.

You'd also have to look at how your residency in France could impact on other issues, such as inheritance, which works very differently in France.




Wednesday, 3 July 2019

French Mortgage Update

Good news across the board for non-resident borrowers this month.

For the first time it is now possible to get a French mortgage without life insurance, which will greatly assist those older borrowers, or people that had ample cover already in place.

New products are coming onto the market – you can now get a 20 year product with the first 5 years on interest only, and the remaining 15 on a capital repayment basis where both ‘legs’ are fixed at the outset. Guaranteeing you security from interest rate rises over the longer term.

Lenders are increasing their LTVs, giving more options for those borrowers wanting to borrow the maximum available.

Rates are being cut – due in part to new round of quantitative easing by the ECB, at least two lenders have decreased their rates over the past two weeks.



Monday, 1 July 2019

July news

We kick off July having endured a real heatwave at the end of June with some record temperatures established in France. This is therefore a very timely reminder to all clients planning to visit in July and August to plan their journeys well in advance, try to do as much as possible during the morning rather than the afternoon, and be pet aware if you have some furries travelling with you. The temperatures are significantly higher than you may be used to.

July is a great month of festivals in France. Most notably 14th when France's national day celebrations take place all over the country. Be prepared for more crowds at the most popular tourist spots. In addition to the warm, sunny days, you will be able to shop at the biggest and best outdoor markets and choose from a plethora of great events and celebrations that happen throughout the country.

Don't forget, it is also the month of the famous Tour de France, this 3-week cycling event is the sport’s most prestigious event. No win this year for Chris Froome though. The ladies World Cup football is also taking place in France, and at the time of writing both England and the host nation are still in the running.


Did you know that we have "sister" websites in addition to the main Allez-Français website? It can make your task a little easier if you are look for a specific type of property :

Prestige Property https://prestige.allez-francais.com around 50 properties


Business Property https://biz.allez-francais.com around 70 properties


Golf Property https://golf.allez-francais.com a smaller selection


As always, our diaries are very busy, so please give as much notice as possible for viewings as many clients have been disappointed that we have not been able to fit them in over the last month.





To subscribe to our monthly newsletter and my pick of the top properties - sign-up via www.allez-francais.com

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

A golden opportunity in SW France





All good things come to an end, at least that is what the saying states. So at Christmas 2019, I will call it a day, at least as far as the selling role is concerned, operating as a property agent in S W France.

This means that there is a golden opportunity for an enthusiastic, hard working person to take on my portfolio of properties in the Dordogne Valley. Currently, there is a quality portfolio of 24 properties, with exactly half of those in exclusivity to our agency.

Most properties are within 30 minutes of our base near Beaulieu sur Dordogne, and cover the southern tip of the Corrèze, plus the northern part of the Lot.

This is not a typical 9 - 5 job, far from it. But an organised individual can create for themselves a great business within a business, with dedication and hard work. The skill sets are pretty obvious, but in particular our team has a focus on good people skills, and camera work, (requiring a good quality digital SLR camera and software).

So, if you think that this could be for you, please send me your CV and a recent photo so that we can explore the possibility of you joining our team. I shall remain as MD of the company, and retain responsibility for the marketing and PR work.

As well as my replacement, we would also be open minded about the possibility of an agent joining us in the following areas : Sarlat / Montignac (24), Bergerac (24), Cahors (46), Gourdon (46).

I look forward to hearing from some super talented people out there!




Peter Elias
sales@allez-francais.com










Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Don’t listen to the neighbours



We frequently find that our clients seek our advice before putting their property on the market, which is reassuring, of course. But then imagine our frustration when they then proceed to go ahead based on the opinion of a “well intentioned” friend or neighbour.

There are some classic examples – here are just a few:

Diagnostic reports

We advise all of our vendors to get all reports done before they go onto the market. This includes the fosse / drainage report and the famous termite report. By law, you are only required to have the DPE (Energy) report to place the property on the market.

Friends often advise to just get the DPE report done at this stage. The others can wait. The termite report goes out of date quickly.

The reality is that without knowing the outcomes of your diagnostic reports it is near impossible to provide an accurate market valuation. What if the fosse doesn’t not conform or there are major electrical anomalies…

Going down this route invites what we call “double negotiation”. In other words the buyer negotiates on your asking price, and then comes back to haggle further once they discover the problems, (whether they are large or small).

Even if you are lucky and have “clean” reports, having to request these reports after you have found a buyer inevitably causes a delay. Sometimes of up to 2 weeks – most notably for drainage reports. This means that you cannot sign a contract (CDV), and effectively you are giving your buyer longer and longer to reflect and perhaps change their mind. Many sellers find the 10 day cooling off period bad enough, so why add to it.

Oh, by the way, most diagnostic companies will offer a free updated termite report. Many also offer a discount for getting the entire package done at the same time, so a discount price for getting it done at the outset.

N° of agents

In the UK most people selling use a sole agent. France has traditionally been different, and has been multiple agency.

Friends tell you you have more chance if you use a bigger agency or several agents. They cite that the bigger agent gives you more publicity, so you have to be on their books. Because it doesn’t cost you anything you can go with 2,3 or even more agents, and increase your chances of selling.

Wrong on both counts! Sole or Exclusive agents have a proven track record of selling more quickly and getting the asking price for your property. Listing with several agents means that you end up on the same portals at different prices (due to the variances with agent’s fees), making you look desperate for a sale. Rather than increasing your chance, you are actually decreasing them. On an exclusive mandat basis, will can control the marketing process, provide extra advertising if required, and manage your viewings professionally.

Oh, and as for going with the biggest agents, just do the maths. They have over 15,000 properties on their books. In a whole page advert they promote 12 properties, so you have a 0.08% chance of being on that page, (actually less as these figures are rounded up).

Your house in unique - keep it that way with the advertising. Exclusive clients like to buy an exclusive property!

Pricing

We are very experienced in the geographical areas in which we operate. We know how much a property has sold for, we have access to industry data and trends. So we can give you an accurate estimation for the value of your house.

Your own brain and your friend tells you that you can always reduce your price, but not increase. You also think well it cost me A and we have spent B, so we will ask A + B plus a bit. That might work in a rising market or in the UK, but this is France!

Modern properties generally have a rate per square metre habitable for your area. Older properties will also have that, but in addition will vary enormously depending upon the character features, or quality of renovations undertaken, and indeed potential cost of repair / maintenance.

Starting at the correct market price is key. The first 3 months are critical for you to achieve the best price. There is an old saying in the property business that “time is not your friend”. What this means is the longer that you are on the market, the lower your eventual price will be.

We know of many vendors who have ignored our advice about pricing, and have gone down the wildly optimistic route, but remain for sale 5 or more years later!

Strangely, you will find that these people also ignored our advice about sole agency and diagnostic reports.


Monday, 1 April 2019

Latest client testimonial


Once we had made the decision to sell our house in France it was important to find an agent who would present the property in a professional manner. After doing the rounds of a few agents we came across Allez-Francais and liked what we saw on their website and invited Richard Morford over.
 

From the outset we were impressed and liked Richard’s approach and within no time at all photos were taken, description written and floor plan drawn. The floor plan was an important inclusion so often not included by other French estate agents. Presentation is everything and the photos went a long way in doing this. Richard spent a great deal of time on the photography and the subsequent selection of best shots to use. Those taken using the drone were really impressive. Our house was on the website in no time at all and was being presented in the best possible way.

Some will say it takes years to sell a French house and yes this is true, in many instances it can. But there are many factors that sell a house, none more important than the house itself and the asking price. We set a realistic price and within weeks we had a viewing and had accepted an offer for the full asking price. But you also need an agency that doesn’t just list your house, you need one that takes an interest in it and you as the owners. We can say that our choice in Allez-Francais met every criteria we set and we could not have been happier with the outcome. Thank you Richard and Nikki for all your efforts and assistance.

We would not hesitate in recommending Allez-Francais.

Sheila & Alan Brown


www.allez-francais.com



1st April - April Fool / Poisson d'avril ..........



We are still here, uncertain about Brexit even though the 29th March was set in stone ages ago. It is fair to say that Europeans are watching this farce played out with increasing weariness. So moving on, no doubt we will return to the subject in the weeks / months ahead.

As a small company, we are very aware that there is a wide choice for our customers out there, and we genuinely appreciate your custom. Our enthusiasm and professionalism sets us apart from the larger companies out there, and we regularly have wonderful testimonials, some of which are highlighted at the foot of this newsletter.

So why do clients choose Allez-Français? First of all, I think that smaller is better. We are closer to the action, we know our properties, our areas and you do not end up dealing with Head Office to arrange viewings etc you deal with us directly. Our focus has always been on providing rapid responses to telephone calls and e-mails, usually within hours or even minutes, rather than longer delays. We cover a large part of S W France, and 3 geographical areas in some detail, all of which are popular with UK & International buyers in particular.

Larger agencies may seem to be an easy "one stop shop", but prove to be anything but that from feedback that we receive. Viewings of 5 or 6 properties in an area such as the Poitou Charentes can result in accompanied visits with 3 or 4 (or more) agents, who vary enormously in talent and experience. Our team is made up of experienced agents who have been with the Allez-Français team for at least 5 years. They are successful because they are enthusiastic and professional. They will guide you as necessary in accordance with your requirements and demands. Often, we are able to propose a property that you may previously have overlooked, based upon the feedback that you give us during your visits. Often, our sales are in conjunction with those clients who have chosen to spend at least a 1/2 day viewing with us, allowing this flexibility.

Don't forget, we can introduce you to a range of complimentary services, primarily Currency Exchange and Mortgage Services. During Q1 of 2019 alone we have seen the £ to € fluctuate between 1.10 and near to 1.18 - that is a 7.25% difference if you got your timing right or wrong, which is what some of our clients have done by having a frequent dialogue with Tom and his team at Foremost. A reminder also, that all of our contracts (CDV) are drafted and signed with a Notaire (not the agency) and similarly, all deposits are paid to the Notaire (not the agency).

Learn more about our properties and services at www.allez-francais.com


Friday, 1 March 2019

A few tips if planning to view French property after 29 March



I had really hoped that by now we would have had a bit more clarity for Brexit as there are now only 28 more days to go. Alas, that was wishful thinking, so we go into the final month still not knowing what sort of deal will be agreed if one can be achieved at all.

Meanwhile, many of our UK buyers have decided that they will get on with their French dream regardless. Some have wasted time whilst they hoped for greater clarification, whilst others have thought 'enough is enough', lets just get on and live our lives and live the dream.

If you are planning a viewing visit post 29th March, here are a few tips to help you on your way.

From 29th March regardless of whether there is a deal or no deal, it is expected that any travel into Europe by road will require a 'Green Card'.
This will replace the European Certificates of Insurance that have traditionally been issued from UK insurance companies who have an agreement with the EU to allow UK citizens to travel under one simple certificate of insurance. The European Green Card should be free from your insurer. In addition to your UK driving licence, motorists may be required to purchase an International Driving Permit to be able to legally drive on European roads post-Brexit. This is most likely in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Anyone driving abroad will need one 3 months before they travel, and they are available from main Post Offices.

How up to date is your passport?
If there’s a no-deal Brexit, it is likely that you will not be allowed entry to the EU (except Ireland) if your passport is within 6 months of its expiry date.

Remember also, our diaries are pretty full at this time of the year, so please do not leave it too late before requesting a viewing visit, as you will possibly be too late.
We have around 175 properties for sale currently, 59 of which are in exclusivity, so roughly 1 in 3 which are effectively sole agency. The big advantage for you as a buyer dealing with a property that is listed on this basis is that we know exactly what is happening and can advise you accordingly. With multiple agency listings, (very common in France), the vendors can often forget to keep everyone in the loop, and even worse, an agreed sale in principle can be overturned by another agency! And to reassure you, all of our contracts, (Compromis de Vente) are prepared by a local Notaire, and all money (deposit and final balance) is paid direct to the Notaire.



Second referendum looks like the only solution to parliament stalemate


The Prime Minister will come back to the Commons with another tinkered with withdrawal agreement, changing a word here, re-phrasing a sentence there but essentially the same deal as before. If that gets knocked back by MPs once again, she will ask Parliament to approve or reject leaving with no deal. That will almost certainly get rejected, so then we go to her third vote in the sequence, to approve asking the EU for an extension to the Article 50 leaving date of March 29. However, with the EU not prepared to negotiate a new deal what is the point of extending the leaving date unless it is to seek another outcome.

Mrs May said there are three choices: Leave with a deal, leave with no deal or no Brexit. If Parliament rules out the first two then the only option remaining is the third.

If there is to be an extension to the leaving date and Parliament has exhausted its options, it can only be for the purpose of giving the people another say. That will no doubt cause uproar among the hardened leave supporters who say we made our decision and we should stick to it. Get on with leaving. But what is wrong with asking people, almost three years later, if they still feel the same? The situation has changed. We are no longer bombarded with jingoistic slogans from Boris Johnson and Co.

The arguments have moved way beyond Nigel Farage, UKIP and their mistrust of foreigners. The warnings that were dismissed with a snort about huge firms leaving the UK are coming to pass. Multi-national companies who are closing facilities, moving operations, shifting assets and cutting jobs as a result of Brexit has grown ever since the vote in June 2016. Nissan, Jaguar and Honda in the car industry. Airbus in aviation engineering, Barclays and Goldman Sachs in finance, Panasonic and Philips in electronics. Even Dyson, whose boss was a strong campaigner to leave, is off to Singapore. The NHS is facing staff shortages that will last longer than the short-term worries over medicines and supplies.

So why would anyone want to deny people the opportunity to re-think their decision, unless it because you are worried they have seen through the lies and want to change their mind.

Trust in and respect for parliament would be lost and never recovered we are told. There’s not much trust and respect there at the moment if we are being honest.

The people have spoken and Parliament should get on with it we are told.

MPs are not there simply to do as they are told. They are representatives and if they think the country is making a mistake they have a responsibility to say so. MPs are not delegates, simply carrying out instructions from their constituents, they have a far greater responsibility than that.

Article by Stewart Paterson 
https://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/news/17467234.brexit-second-referendum-is-the-only-solution-to-stalemate/


Monday, 11 February 2019

February - the month of romance



February – the month of romance, with Valentine’s Day falling on Thursday 14th. Is this going to be the month that we can help you fall in love with one of our French properties for sale?

We certainly have a great selection, currently over 175 properties on the site, of which 58 are on Exclusive mandats with our agency. Explore the website to see what has changed since you last browsed.

This month is also a great time to view, with the temperatures and the light quality at its worst. No doubt about it, if you like a property in February, you will love it when bathed in sunshine in the summer months.

Constantly in our focus, at the moment, is the Brexit scenario. Obviously it impacts significantly for UK buyers, and the £ enjoyed a mini revival until 29th January and the MPs votes on the various amendment proposals in Parliament. But also, Europe is massively involved, although the consequences for the EU nations of Britain crashing out are not as harsh as they would be for the UK.

On the subject of a referendum, there is talk in France of the Loire Atlantique region to rejoin Brittany. The Government has been asked to consent to a public vote. I hope they know what they are letting themselves in for ....

The PUMA was designed to replace the Couverture Maladie Universelle (CMU) but it goes further in that it is compulsory for any French tax resident who is not affiliated to mainstream French social security or that of another territory for health purposes. The contribution applies to all investment income (revenus du patrimoine) at a rate of 8% after an annual allowance of €9,933 (2018) per person.

www.allez-francais.com

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Why now is the time to spring clean your agents !


Spring – is known as the season of rebirth, revitalisation and regeneration. It’s a time of the year where clean-ups and clear-outs are popular. It’s called a spring clean for a reason, after all.

Whilst we are still in January, Spring is appearing on the horizon, and you should start forward planning. Why?

The property market tends to be better in the Spring, and hopefully we will soon have Brexit and its associated problems behind us.

As we march onwards deeper into 2019 many of you should be asking if you are getting the best from your estate agents?

Being with several agents may appear to be the sensible option, and "widening" your chances of a sale. But the statistics actually suggest the opposite. Working with an agent on a sole agency (or Exclusive mandat) generally ensures a faster sale and achieves a higher price.

Our agency is consistently selling more properties that we have in exclusivity in comparison to "simple" mandats where there are a number of competing agencies.

Your property is unique - so why devalue the property by offering the property to a number of agents, who then advertise the property at varying prices (because of their different fee structures), and use a mixed bag of images, (some bad and some truly awful).

Far better to entrust your sale to one top notch agency who will present your property professionally, invest via their marketing budget, to achieve a sale as quickly as possible for the best possible price.

We await your call, or e-mail us at contact@allez-francais.com for more details.