As a real estate agent in Uzès since May 2010, I have found that most foreign buyers are bewildered by the French real estate system. In this series on Discover Uzès, I wil try & address most of the issues that prospective buyers (may be you...) should be aware of in the process of buying a home in Uzège. Download the full brochure here.
Spend time discovering Uzège
Use holiday breaks to explore our region and find out which village or area suits you the most. Although Uzège is not huge, the scenery varies from village to village; so try & experience some of it first hand to get a feel for where you would like to buy. Also, view prospective properties in the winter: this will give you an idea of what the property and the district are like out of season.
Make a list of your criteria
The list could relate to criteria such as: maximum traveling time to the property, maximum price, preferred location, minimum number of bedrooms, structural condition, services connected, etc. Following a list of criteria is a good way of remaining objective about your purchase. Use our evaluation matrix to compare properties.
Type of location
Pay particular attention when making your list to what sort of location you require: a detached house surrounded by beautiful Uzège countryside (with a garden and a pool) may be your ideal, but don't forget that you will have to use your car to get everywhere. Living in Uzès or St-Quentin-La-Poterie will mean you can walk to get your newspaper and fresh croissants every morning and walk to the bar or restaurant and have a drink. However, remember you may have to put up with traffic and other noise.
The Web will enable you to begin to get a general feel for what sort of price you should be paying relative to size, location, and condition of the property, as well as learning more about how the house buying process works in France.
Contact estate agents
Select agents you would like to work with. Call them and start interacting – so you feel comfortable. Make sure you give your agent as much detail as possible. Many things can be “lost in translation” (unless you happen to find a bilingual agent) so you need to make it as clear as possible not only the type of property you want to see but also those things that are unacceptable. You need to be flexible, of course, but you don’t want to be running around looking at places which are clearly not what you want. Be as specific as you can, and be firm about it.
Plan your trip
If you are due to visit France and want to look at properties, it is worth contacting estate agents well in advance of your trip to get in their diaries. If you just stroll into the estate agents offices, it is likely that they won't be able to show you anything because their appointment books are already full. However, make sure you’re not going to spend all of your time seeing the same property with different agents!
Bear in mind that some of the houses you have pre-selected on the Internet may have become unavailable by the time you show up (because they have been sold) so keep your choice open – but don’t over-book yourself either. Your agent will be a good guide as to how far apart the properties are and how many you can see in a day. Don’t over do it, you will just en dup tired and muddled.
Practice your French
If you're thinking of spending a lot of time in France, or relocating, be aware that learning French doesn’t just happen by osmosis – unless you happen to be under 10 years old. Plan on taking some proper lessons from a qualified teacher if you want to master the intricacies of la langue française. Being able to speak the language properly will pay enormous dividends. Don’t underestimate the importance of being able to communicate accurately as French life is riddled with bureaucracy.