Your Viewing Trip

At Healey Fox we spend a lot of time talking to clients about houses and sometimes it is difficult to get them to move away from focusing on specific properties and to look at the bigger picture. I guess it is always exciting to fantasise about beautiful character cottages, glamorous villas and especially little stone buildings for restoration but sometimes I talk with clients who I just feel will never take the plunge to go out to France to look at real life properties, to move away from sunny day pictures, to move away from the dreams and to touch base with reality. However, planning a viewing trip is not only an essential prelude to buying your dream property it is also something that it is vitally important to get right. None of us have time and money to waste on badly planned trips. After years spent in helping clients to find and buy homes in France I believe that we, at Healey Fox, have a pretty good idea of how to make your viewing trip successful. Years ago I remember talking with clients who had visited France every school holiday for four or five years, according to my reckoning that could be more than twenty trips. They even prided themselves on having a database with every property they had ever seen. Five years on, they were still searching for the right property and I have a feeling that if I could find them now, they would still be looking!

So as I see it the essentials are:-

  • Ensure your chosen area offers you what you want from a lifestyle point of view as well as having a good selection of properties that suit you within your budget.  France is an enormous country with a huge diversity of climate and landscape. It has mountains, hills, flat lands, lakes, rivers, lots of sea, huge areas of empty spaces, pretty villages, bustling towns and delightful cities. The possibilities are endless but talking with everyone involved in the purchase to identify what everyone wants from an area is really important before you make a trip to view houses.
  • Consider ease of access from wherever you are in the UK. The time and the costs of any journey might affect the frequency of your trips if it is a holiday home you intend to buy, or of friends visiting if you are planning a full time move. If you would like to talk about the right part of France for your needs please call us. We have years of experience of living and working in France which we are happy to share with you.
  • Most of our clients hope to find their property using the services of an Estate Agent. Our advice would be to make sure you use a bi-lingual agency. However, good your French language skills, unless you are bi-lingual it is safer to work with someone who you can properly communicate with.  All Healey Fox partner agents in France are French and English speaking and are used to helping English people with their property searches. There are cultural differences in the way that English and French buyers go about choosing a house and it as well to work with someone who has an understanding of the cultural differences.
  • Be wary of working with too many agents. You will find generally that the more agents in an area you make appointments with the worse the service will be. Local agents know each other, they often compare notes and if they know that you have appointments with many of their competitors they may see you as being ‘not a serious buyer’ and give you less time and show you less good houses. There is no point in them showing you all their best properties if you are likely to have another week of appointments before you are able to make a decision. By the time you are ready to decide, the house may well have sold. Better for, the agent to show it to a local person who does not buy in the same way that many English people tend to.
  • So, having chosen a couple of good agents in the right area, make sure they understand your property requirements before your visit so that they can arrange the necessary appointments. I think it is best to arrange to see only one agent each day, even if you are going to spend just half a day with them. Take it from me, there is very little as exhausting as house viewing in a foreign country. There is a good reason why on all the TV programs they only look at two or three houses a day. It really becomes impossible to distinguish one house from another at the end of a long and possibly hot, day. It is also useful to have spare time to look around the immediate vicinity of any property you might be considering and to check out local amenities.

And other handy hints:-

  • Do not spend a lot of time taking photos, it is important to really immerse yourself in the property. You can take photos and measurements on a second viewing, but use the first one to get a true feel of the property.
  • Give the agent good feedback. Do not pretend to like a house to be polite, it is much more useful for you and the agent to know exactly what is right and what is wrong with the property for your needs.
  • Take appropriate footwear and outer wear, water and a snack bar can also be useful. Do not be tempted to drink alcohol during your visits, you could end up making the wrong decision and almost certainly will end up with a headache.
  • Book somewhere comfortable for your stay.

And finally, make sure that the agent knows your plans. Let them know if you might want a second viewing or if you would like to see some different houses or let them know if the area and houses aren’t right for you. Remember, the more you communicate the better the service from the agent is likely to be.  And please, if we at Healey Fox, have had the pleasure of making your appointments let us know how your experience was. We will be in touch with you on your return, but if you need our help while out in France or if you want to discuss your trip, the properties you saw….maybe even the one you are going to buy before we manage to get hold of you, we would love to hear from you.   HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL VIEWINGS.

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