Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Apologies for the lack of posts lately but it's been a busy start to the year.
Earlier this month I was in London for The France Show in Earls Court. The show happened to coincide with France losing it's AAA credit rating and I wondered if this would affect the mood of visitors to our stand.
The answer was a resounding "not at all".
We had, literally, thousands of visitors over the three days and the ones that I spoke to didn't mention credit ratings, the forthcoming election, PIIGS or the fate of the euro.
Instead they asked me about sunshine, vineyards, education, healthcare and "respect" (of elders, teachers, policemen and each other). It was clear that whilst funding the dream may be proving difficult, the attraction of France remains undiminished.
Within hours of returning home I had picked up two search mandates and have others "bubbling under" which I expect to come to fruition over the coming days.
I'm pretty sure that overall housing transaction numbers will be down this year in France - I'm optimistic though that by increasing market share there will still be plenty of opportunities to prosper.
Monday, January 09, 2012
Now in their third year, the main award has been won previously by yours truly and the much respected property journalist Graham Norwood. This years winner is another journalist, Roger Hunt, you can see his excellent blog here.
I'm delighted to say that A little drop of Cognac was "placed" for the third year running. I wrote "House prices - will Google ruin your dinner party?" back in the summer and the judges decided that this particular entry was worthy of the runner-up spot.
I guess the thing I am most thrilled about is the consistency - a win and two runners-up in the three years that the awards have been running is no mean feat. Being ultra cynical I write the blog in order to win business and to position myself as being an expert in both French property matters and in local issues pertinent to life here in the Charente. The awards give added authority (and perhaps even a much needed gravitas) to what are some quite personal and parochial postings.
Anyway, I'm thrilled that my work is recognised and will do my utmost to justify the award.
Here's to the 2012 competition.....
Friday, January 06, 2012
Earlier this week I had a most interesting Google+ "hangout" with some of my colleagues in the FrenchEntrée property finders network.
One of the agents, Sophia, was telling us about her experiences in America where she lived and studied for a while. She was saying that it is the norm for buyers to have representation when looking for a house - it's probably the biggest expenditure they will ever make so this makes perfect sense.
I looked it up and, according to this article in Wikipedia 63% of Americans do indeed instruct a buying agent. The article goes on to say:
"Most Buying Agents specialise in a particular location: a large part of their expertise is derived from local knowledge, personal contacts with local estate agents, and inside-information about properties that are not yet on the open market".
This combination of local knowledge and contacts is doubly important if you are looking to buy a property abroad.
For example, if you are currently living in the USA, Australia, South Africa or the far east there is simply no way that you could expect to fully search the market here, or indeed gather the comparable evidence needed to help you negotiate the lowest price possible.
We are seeing an increasing amount of business coming from international clients and whilst it is hard on my telephone bill it is also comforting to know that we have such a robust and long standing business model.....one that more and more UK buyers are adopting.
Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Regular readers will know that I'm a fan of the research team at Knight Frank and particularly like the way they present their research.
Of course we have to understand that they have an extraordinarily wealthy client base and look at things from a different viewpoint to the majority of other property analysts.
Their 2012 property predictions report says that instability in the Eurozone has led to very weak mainstream housing markets but, perversely, this has helped "prime" markets such as London & Paris.
They forecast that 44% of the worldwide cities they monitor are set to see house price increases.
Several Asian cities are set to see soaring house prices, including price rises of up to 20% in Bangkok and Jakarta, with Paris (yet again), Kiev and St Petersburg forecast to see similar increases.
However, certain cities are pipped to see massive falls, with values declining by up to 20% in Shanghai, Mumbai, Hong Kong and Geneva.
As regular readers will also know I don't have much (any) faith in house price indices - transaction numbers are the only key indicator that really count.
A double digit rise in Paris would mean plenty of misleading headlines about "soaring French house prices" but would be distinctly unhelpful when it comes to matching vendor expectations with reality here in SW France.
It all makes interesting reading if you have the coffee ready and a spare fifteen minutes though.
Let's face it, one of the big attractions of moving to France is the weather.
Pretty much all of us like sunshine and it's a proven fact that it makes us happy.
Back in the summer I saw this posting on the Leggett Immobilier website which shows that here in the Charente I am getting around two and a half more hours of sunshine per day than I was when I lived in the UK.
The photo at the top of this post was taken on Christmas day - as you can see it was a crystal clear blue sky. Our traditional family walk was taken in just jeans, polo shirt and light jumper (which came off half way round).
We went to visit friends on the cote d'azur for new year and the photo below was taken on new years day.
It's a far cry from my native north-east of England and the freezing cold winters of my childhood.