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Property blog: The parts of France where you can still find bargains

The price of property around France is rising but that doesn't mean there aren't some incredible bargains to be had. Here are the best places to find them according to Leggett Immobilier.

Property blog: The parts of France where you can still find bargains
Photo: Leggett Immobilier

Everyone knows that the price of property in France is still amazing and although the market is on the up, there are some fantastic bargains still to be had right across the country – even in some areas that you might not imagine.  

As you would think, the rural areas are usually where the best priced properties are to be found.  

Limousin and la France profonde

The Limousin (Creuse / Correze / Haute Vienne) is a stunning region filled with beautiful green forests, hills and countryside and some of the best priced property in France – the average price for a house in the Creuse is just €63,000.

According to an Expat forum, there are over 7,000 Brits currently living in the Limousin.
 
The area is full of wonderful, lush, green countryside reminiscent of Devon and the west of England, with little rivers, streams and lakes all over the place, perhaps that is the reason why it is so popular with the British.
 
(The map below shows the concentration of where British nationals live in south west France.)
 

But it isn’t just in La France Profonde where you can lay your hands on a bargain.  Some parts of the country that aren’t traditionally associated with bargains can still deliver pockets of great priced properties.  

Think you can’t afford the Cote d’Azur?  Think again.  Just an hour or so from the Mediterranean coast you can pick up some beautiful properties in one of the most exclusive parts of France for under €200,000 – you’ve just go to know where to look. 

Up in the hills the prices are much lower than on the coast.  The pace of life is slow and the villages are still traditional communities, but just a short drive will see you rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous.

 

Further along the Mediterranean coast, the former region of Languedoc-Roussillon is a beautiful part of France with some amazingly priced properties and some stunning countryside.  Here you can live the southern French lifestyle for even less.  

The area holds many hidden gems including stunning vineyards (and wine!), beautiful historic towns; and in some areas, you can even spend the morning skiing and then drive down to the Med for a swim in the afternoon.

Ski properties don’t have to break the bank either, the Pyrenees has some fantastic ski resorts that are much cheaper and quieter than the Alps.  These are great investments (as are properties in the Alps) as they have year round rental potential – these areas come alive in the summer too – with walkers, climbers and outdoor sports enthusiasts of all kinds.  

The Atlantic coast is ideal if you are looking for sun and sea, as well as surf and for a smaller price tag that some parts of the Mediterranean coast.  Temperature wise, the area around La Rochelle is similar to southern France and the average price of a house in the Charente Maritime is just €165,000 and around an hour from the coast you can pick up home much more cheaply.

Then there are the perennial favorites with British purchasers, Brittany, Normandy and the Dordogne all continue to offer fantastic value for money.  Whether it is a holiday bolt hole for under €50,000 or a business opportunity for under €250,000, there is a reason why these beautiful regions continue to be so appealing to British purchasers.

And as for a hidden gem?

In Alps de Haute Provence, south eastern France, the pretty medieval town of Uzes is on the other side of the Rhone from the Cote d'Azur, with manageable property prices.
 
Famous for its olive oil, silk mills and of course, black truffles, which does grow all over the southern France, but the focus from November till March is Uzes.
 
Uzes is just 45mins from Avignon.
 
 

France is a beautiful varied country with something to offer every taste.  Property prices remain low, but with the economy improving and the market on the rise, now is an ideal time to buy.

by Mary Hawkins from Leggett Immobilier

To check out what bargains Leggett Immobilier has on offer around France you can CLICK HERE.

 

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PROPERTY

Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

If you're looking to rent an apartment in a larger city in France, you're likely to see announcements that require a 'garant'. Here is what you need to know about finding a guarantor in France.

Garant: How the French guarantor system works for property rental

Renting in large cities in France – particularly in Paris – is a known challenge for foreigners, especially new arrivals. In the countryside, it’s a bit easier, with less competition properties, but in the big cities compiling your dossier and landing the right place can be a challenge.

One of the biggest surprises for many people is that most landlords ask for a guarantor (garant) in order to sign a lease for an apartment. It is not a legal requirement, but in competitive real estate markets, it certainly feels like one.

Though asking for a garant might feel a bit juvenile, it is quite common, and applies to a lot more people than you might realise. Here is what you need to know:

Who typically needs a guarantor?

The most common group to need guarantors are students. However, if you are a foreigner who is not employed with a CDI (indefinite contract) and if you do not make over three times your monthly rent, you will likely need a guarantor as well.

If you don’t collect your income in France (or if you don’t have an income) you will need a guarantor.

You will also likely need one if you are still in the probationary period of your CDI, or if you cannot show three months worth of pay stubs from your job yet (even if you pay meets the three times a month requirement). If you do have a CDI, you could ask your employer to sign you an attestation d’employeur which verifies your monthly income. 

If your income is not steady or consistent (perhaps you are a freelancer). Typically, if you use an agency during the leasing process, they will require a guarantor, especially if any of these conditions apply to you. 

It is worth noting that showing bank statements typically do not suffice – landlords are looking for proof of ongoing income, not savings.

Who can count as a guarantor?

The guarantor should be a third party, such as a parent or close relative who agrees to pay your rent if you fail to pay.

This person must fulfil all the requirements outlined above (ie earning more than three times your rent with an indefinite contract).

The other tricky part is that this person must work and live in France, and usually it’s best that they are French themselves.

However, this can pose a problem for foreigners who might not know anyone that fits that description, so thankfully there are some other options fill this requirement, like taking out a caution bancaire or using an online agency. We explained the ins-and-outs of these bellow.

What does my guarantor need to show?

The guarantor needs to put together a dossier of documents including;

  • Proof of identification (a passport or French ID card)
  • Proof of residence that is less than three months old (eg utility bills).
  • Most recent tax returns
  • Employment contract and typically three months worth of payslips
  • If they earn money via real estate, they must also provide documentation for this
  • If the person in question is retired, they must provide proof of pension (again, this must exceed your monthly rent threefold). 

So, what if I don’t have a French person who can be my guarantor? There are a few options for you:

Use an online service

There are two main online services that can act as guarantors for foreigners in France.

The first is Visale, which is accessible primarily to foreign students.

This is a programme offered via the French state through “Action Logement” and it covers up to three years of unpaid rent. You must be between 18 and 30 years old to apply, and you must hold a long-stay visa (VLS-TS) – either a student visa or a ‘talent’ one.

For students who are already citizens of a European Union country, then simply presenting a student card and a valid passport will be sufficient. It can be applied to private housing and student residences, but it is ultimately up to the landlord as to whether they will accept a tenant who uses Visale as their guarantor. The main benefit to Visale is that it is free for the user.

Visale does come with some restrictions, however. Your rent (including charges) cannot exceed €1,500 in Paris, and €1,300 in the rest of the country. In addition, the lease must be for a primary residence, and your rent should not exceed 50 percent of your total income.

Another option is GarantMe, a paid online website that can also serve as an official guarantor.

Landlords might actually prefer this service over a physical guarantor who might refuse to pay or for whatever reason not have the funds to do so. The benefit to GarantMe is that they accept a wider range of tenants for their service, but the downside is that there is a fee. The minimum payment (per year) is €150, but the fee is normally 3.5 percent of the annual rent (including charges) and it renews automatically.

The nice thing about GarantMe, is that in order to apply for the service, you basically need to create a full dossier that will be identical to what you’ll need for your apartment search anyways.

Take out a Caution Bancaire

Basically, a caution bancaire is a bank guarantee, and typically its a bit more of a last resort option because it is quite restrictive for the tenant. It involves blocking off a large sum of money to be used to pay rent if you fail to do so.

Depending on the landlord (and the bank), they might ask you to block between six months worth of rent to sometimes up to two years. This would be used as guarantee during the duration of your lease, but it takes a bit of administrative coordination and obviously requires a large sum of liquid funds.

Sometimes activating a bank guarantee can take a few weeks, and for foreigners, of course, this would require already having a French bank account. There can also be fees, depending on the bank, for using a caution bancaire, and simply closing of caution bancaire account in itself can involve fees.

The other downside to this is that not all landlords will accept it, which is why this option might be best served as a last resort.

Attempt to find an apartment that does not require a garant

This is quite difficult in Paris (and other large cities around France). It is possible sometimes if you stick to foreigner-oriented sites like NY Habitat or Paris Attitude. Another possible loophole could be to see if your insurance plan offers coverage of unpaid rent. This is quite uncommon, but could be a possible option. If you rent specifically particulier-à-particulier (meaning you do not use an agency at all) you might be able to negotiate with the landlord, or if you have a sub-lease you might not need to show proof of a guarantor.

Ultimately, however, in most cases when renting in France’s large cities, you’ll likely need a guarantor.

What should I be aware of when it comes to guarantor websites?

As mentioned previously, Visale is only for people in the 18-30 age group, so unfortunately it does not apply to everyone. It is also intended for lower income people or students, so if you are a high earner you might be rejected.

Regarding using a website like GarantMe, beware that they will charge you every year – it is not a one time fee. This will be deducted from the card you put on the site and the only way to cancel the charge will be to show proof that you have moved out (i.e. an état des lieux or letter releasing you from the obligation signed from your landlord)

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