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October 31, 2008

Ski season Imminent – Snow levels looking promising

With the onset of winter and even a snow fall in London which hasnt happened in October since 1934, I am sure lots of people are beginning to look forward to the skiing season and some really good snow.  Properties in the ski areas have always been popular as they not only provide accommodation for winter skiing, but for many they are ideally situated for walking holidays in the spring and summer and in some ski stations there are quite a few summer activities including golf, tennis and swimming pools as well a few resorts offering summer glacier skiing. 

Prices of properties in the ski areas start as low as 60,000 Euros for a small apartment which will be an ideal bolt hole and will also rent out well during the weeks or months that you are not able to use it.  Whether you are looking in the  Alps in the Haute Savoie, the Pyrenees or the Alpes de Haute Provence there is a wide selection of properties available at under 200,000 Euros including new apartments some of which are being sold on a leaseback basis, so that you buy the freehold and give a lease back to a holiday/management company who in return give you a guaranteed rental and normally several weeks personal use.  This can be an ideal investment for those who love skiing but only have limited week’s holiday. 

If you buy in the Alpes de Haute Provence you will be in a position to get to the Cote D’Azur in under 90 minutes so that you can easily go to the coast for the day and enjoy a two-centre holiday without moving accommodation – skiing one day, having lunch on the beach the next.

Conversely if you like skiing, but not enough to buy a property in a ski area, then consider buying in Provence either in the countryside or the coast and you will be able to take yourself off to ski in a choice or resorts for a day at a time whenever you feel like it.   You will be surprised at the price range of properties on the Cote d’Azur,  not all properties are built for millionaires, there is a good selection of properties at under 500,000 Euros.

For those looking for family sized accommodation, chalets will start at around 320,000 Euros for properties just outside the ski stations and will go as high as a few million Euros but with a good choice between 700,000 and 1m  Euros.

Whilst reading this, you may be thinking, why buy now when everything financial is in the doldrums – but remember, prices are down just a little in France, (the market is holding up really well compared to ours) but prices are negotiable and you may be able to buy a property at far less than will be the case in a short time, especially if you choose your moment – the Euro/Sterling rate is fluctuating between 1.23 and 1.29 at present and looks set to stay around this level.  Unless you want to put your whole life, your dreams and your ambitions on hold then this is the time to see what you can get for the money you can pay – a buyer’s market is not seen very often – take advantage of it now.

Why not go and take a look, flights are very cheap at present offering you the opportunity of a few days away and the chance to see what you can get for your budget.

October 22, 2008

Reminder – time running out for reductions on Cote d’Azur

Just a reminder that some developers are offering reductions on new properties until the end of November – you have approximately 6 weeks to get there and choose a property on which you will get up to 15,000 € reduction.  Some of the apartments are almost ready to move into.  With mortgages costing less than in the UK, why not take a mortgage on the property so that you dont need to worry about exchange rates until they get better – and then you can pay off the loan.   The possibility is that you could be sitting on a capital gain in 2 – 3 years rather than waiting to buy in a rising market.  With the market being quieter at present the building of new developments has reduced which will lead to a shortage in a couple of years, making prices rise as demand is higher than supply.   It is a lovely time of year to visit the Cote d’Azur, the sun is still shining, so why not enjoy a few days there – lunch in the open air, dinner by the fire, and take a look at some of these well priced properties.  Give us a call for further information and we will send you the details.

October 15, 2008

Be a Winner in this financial climate – French property offers you the chance!

Property prices in France have always been more stable than the UK, whether going up or coming down.  It has taken a while for the world’s financial problems to filter through to the typical French vendors of character properties, but it appears they are beginning to realise that if they need to sell their property they are going to have to reduce their price and be a little more negotiable.    We have had many price reductions this week of between 10 and 20%.  So, good news!  Sterling is becoming a little stronger, petrol prices down, Sarkozy is confirming that he will provide money so that no French bank will ever fail – what’s stopping you – now is the time to get over to France on-a-cheaper-than-normal flight, stay in a hotel offering lower-than-normal-rates and go out with our agents to see some of the most beautiful properties at the best prices we have seen for a long time – and then we will try to negotiate further for you.  French banks are still lending if you have a reasonable deposit nad at lower rates than the UK, sometimes at lower rates than you will get on deposit here,  and in many parts of France the sun is still shining – so, don’t hold back, go and find your dream property, put your money in the safest of places – bricks and mortar – and enjoy your property whilst you watch it increase in value over the coming years whilst providing you and perhaps your family and friends, with excellent holidays and a great deal of fun.   If you dont want to use it as yet or can only use it occasionally, you can rent it out profitably as presently there is high demand for rentals.  Everytime there is a financial situation there are always winners and losers – WHY NOT BE A WINNER THIS TIME!

Amazing reduction on Ref 381SJLT in Normandy – now at 105.000Euros

If you have been waiting for prices to reduce so that you can find a ‘bargain’ then wait no longer.  We have just received a reduction on a charming South facing  property which is just 8 kms from Mont St Michel  with adjoining outbuilding to convert, set in over an acre and a half of land with leafy garden & well.  This  17th Century (no it hasnt been on the market that long!) two storey property renovated comprises: Ground floor: living room with fireplace, kitchen area with wooden stove, utility room, study, laundry room, wc. 1st floor: 3 bedrooms, shower room.  The property came onto the market a year ago, possibly overpriced at that time, and then over the year has been reduced from 294,000 Euros down to it’s present price of 105,000 Euros, possibly due to a desperate vendor.  If this could interest you, then I suggest you jump on a plane, train or ferry and get there to see it before it is snapped up.

October 10, 2008




But perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel – we have experienced our first gazumping for a long time – one of our clients today was gazumped on a property costing only 49,000 Euros because another buyer came in at 20,000Euros more – almost 40% higher than the price that had been agreed.   It is a lesson for us all, if you do manage to secure a good price on a property, make sure you sign your compromis immediately and even more important make sure the vendor also signs.

As mentioned in The Times today – some frightened investors are putting their money into properties rather than leaving it in the bank – and where better than in France – where the property market is in better shape than here due to the cautious French bank lending.

October 7, 2008

Golfing, shopping, eating on the beach – a lovely few girlie days!

Just back from a girlie few days with my friends in the South of France. We jumped on a plane at Luton and an hour and half later we were in Nice with brilliant blue skies and we never saw a cloud for 5 days. The journey both ways was quick and easy and everything ran on time. I was staying in a villa which belonged to a friend in the beautiful Provencal village of Valbonne, near all the amenities of the Cote d’Azur but situated up in the hills away from all the bustle of the larger coastal towns.


We spent each morning visiting Cannes, Juan les Pins, Antibes and several other locations in the area, stopping for a light lunch on the beach, even though it is October it is hot enough to do that, a little shopping in the gorgeous boutiques then off to the golf course for a round of golf where you are spoiled for choice. The prices vary depending on the time of day and whether or not you use a buggie but most courses offer twilight golf where you pay for 9 holes and play until it is dark. The times for this vary as the days become shorter but it is possible to play the full 18 holes at this time of year.


Evenings were spent in local restaurants in Mougins, Valbonne and Antibes. Again prices vary but it is still possible to eat well and reasonably, most restaurants offer a choice of set price menus according to your budget.  Meals were washed down with a glass of lovely local wine.


There is something for everyone in the South of France and if you are an artist the light is spectacular at this time of year. Then it was back to the UK where it was raining and I wished I had more time in France. But work was calling……

This blog was written by Sharon, a negotiator at Latitudes French Property Agents for the last ten years and who has a 14 handicap.

October 6, 2008

Currency – Sterling getting stronger

Good News for those looking to purchase in France.


The GBP:EUR exchange rate hit a 6 month high this morning of 1.2980 as the financial markets reacted to another weekend of poor economic data coming out of Europe, including the faltering of Fortis Bank and Dexia.

 However this is actually good news for the UK’s overseas property buyers as the financial institutions look to place their funds outside the Eurozone thus creating this morning’s spike.

 What does this means in real terms?  Well when you compare today’s rate to this time a week ago a UK buyer purchasing a €200,000 property would have saved over £5,600 just on the favourable movement of the currency rate.

 However to benefit from this favourable movement you will have to move quickly.  With the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting this week to decide about interest rates there is a strong possibility of a cut being announced on Thursday.  This would typically pre-empt a slide in the rate thus eroding any savings that you stood to make.

 The solution to this is to forward book your currency effectively locking your exchange rate now by putting down a part payment.  This service is available through our Currency partners Currencies Direct.

 To discuss this further please contact James Shattock on 020 7847 9440 or register to open your free account by clicking HERE.  Be sure to mention Latitudes to get the best rates.

What’s stopping you – keep your money safe – buy a property in France

Fortis’s Belgian and Luxembourg operations have been bought – and effectively rescued – by the mighty BNP Paribas of France for just under £12bn in shares and cash.


The Euro – Sterling exchange rate is at 1.29.29, the best rate for us for many months.


So what is stopping all those of you out there that really want to buy a property in France?  For all the following reasons now could be the best time to buy and definitely a safer bet than leaving your cash in the bank!


Mortgages are available, France is not suffering in quite the same way as other European countries due to their careful lending criteria in the past.  In general a borrower could not be spending more than a third of his monthly outgoings on mortgage repayments, so limiting his debt. 


On top of this is the fact that credit cards are used very little, much more common is the debit card which immediately takes the money out of your account. 


French banks do not allow unauthorised overdrafts.  If you spend money you don’t have you will get more than a nasty letter and a charge from your bank.  Your account will be closed and you will be unable to open a bank account with any French bank for the following 10 years.  This definitely encourages people to live within their means and only buy what they can afford.


Some property prices are coming down in price, especially new properties being sold by developers in areas where they are noticing a dearth of International buyers.   The French domestic market is still there.   This is the strong point for buying property in France, there is always a good domestic market, pushing up demand, unlike Spain and some of the emerging property markets, where developments are being built purely to sell to non-nationals, and with the world in crises this market has dried up.


Resales from individual vendors are hardly effected, due to the fact that the vendors either have a mortgage well within their means or no mortgage at all.   However prices are much more negotiable than earlier in the year and together with the rising exchange rate, the safety of the market,makes this a perfect time to buy in France.

October 3, 2008

Put your savings into a French property and enjoy your weekend.

Well, at the end of a pretty tough week in the UK – as they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get going!   I am looking forward to jumping on a plane to Nice this evening so that I can enjoy a couple of days of tranquility in the sunshine.  Owning a property within 30 minutes of Nice airport has a lot going for it.  The weather is in the mid 20s with plenty of sunshine, we intend lunching on the beach and relaxing around the pool, as well as a stroll around the lovely village of Valbonne.   After a lovely long day in the sunshine, the evenings are likely to be a bit chilly so we will curl up infront of our log fire with a bottle of wine and some olives and enjoy a good book or perhaps watch Strictly Come Dancing as we have UK TV which is easily available.   On Sunday we will do much the same, perhaps a wander around the art galleries in St Paul de Vence and should the weather disappoint us, there are plenty of art museums to visit and another long lunch will not go amiss.  The flights are cheap at present and you can eat really well at much more reasonable prices so why not give it a try.


Prices of properties on the Cote d’Azur can be sky high, but it will surprise a lot of people to know that there is a good selection of very reasonably priced properties starting as low as around £100,000 for a one bedroom apartment.  Wouldn’t your money be safer invested in a property in France that will give you great pleasure to enjoy, even if you can only spare a weekend, and can produce some income if you rent it a little, than leaving your money in a UK bank and spending the weekend worrying whether it will still be there on Monday!

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