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Games, Vids, More Games, More Vids & Music:

These News & Views are scooped from around the world; What’s happening? What are people thinking? What would people like them to think?…and some of the amusing things that are going on today.

Click on the picture and you’ll be taken to the Mon Oc portfolio of 400+ articles.  Choose your article and you’ll be taken there, just one click away.  Read today’s scoops here and understand what’s happening.

Shun the same old, get away from it all this autumn

Well, that’s summer gone for another year. August started so promisingly, with sunshine and warmth but ended with middling temperatures and rain aplenty. You could be forgiven for thinking that it was November, not the end of summer.

For those living in the UK, we can only hope that an Indian summer will enliven us in the next couple of months, but for now, attention turns to the autumn, and all that brings: the returning football season, Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor on the telly, even Christmas ads (a restaurant I was in at the weekend was already shouting about its Christmas menus – shocking but true).

To some people, the pure predictability of that list may be enough for them to say ‘enough’, and go in search of something different. That may even include leaving the UK altogether to taste a new way of life and a new culture (by the way, they do have The X Factor in other countries, so you’ll have to steer clear).

If you are looking to move overseas, you’ll no doubt be interested in the state of the overseas property markets; it may even determine whether you can afford to make that break.

Well, there are some early signs that the European property market is starting pick up again following the economic crash, which resulted in many places having a surplus of unsold, empty houses selling cheaply. Still though, the story is one of general decline.

In Spain, although Barcelona is proving particularly popular amongst British and French buyers – with prices there up around 14% since the early part of the year – there is still a general falling of house prices and there are still bargains to be had.

It’s a similar story in France, where house prices continue to fall. Reasonably stable in the first quarter of this year, they have fallen at an average of close to 2% on an annual basis. The biggest falls were seen in the Lorraine region, where prices in Meuse dropped by 10.1% and in Vosges fell -9.1%.

Over in Italy, the Sicilian town of Gangi recently had 20 empty properties on sale for just one euro each, all to encourage new investment to the area. All the buyers had to guarantee was that they’d spend at least €5,000 on refurbishment to the properties. Still sounds like a good deal to us!

So there are still plenty of opportunities to snap up affordable properties in Europe, and though the pound has taken a bit of a hit in recent weeks, it’s still up well up on the euro compared to where it was a year ago.

At today’s rates, if you transferred £300,000 to pay for a home in France, you’d get nearly €379,000, whereas a year ago, you’d have got less than €352,000. That’s a difference of €27,000 in the space of just 12 months; just think of the difference that could make when it comes to getting the house of your dreams.

And with house prices on the continent still in your favour, what more incentive do you need to move abroad this autumn? Just one thing, when you get there, be careful when you put the TV on. It might be the X Factor…

Written by Simon Hilton, senior foreign exchange consultant at World First

FINANCIAL_344_World_First_May14

 

Your recommended reading for October

Crossings: A Tale of Andor

by M. K. Theodoratus

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An enjoyable fantasy.

Set in the fantasy world of Andor, this is the tale of Crossings, a quiet town where people go about their own business and don’t like change.

Ebe, is one of the locals, an elderly widower, living quietly in his cabin, minding his own business, until the strangers arrive, and set up a dog farm across thae valley on the land his grandmother once owned.

Soon the tranquillity of their peaceful life is shattered as the unfriendly farmers become abusive and menacing to the locals, guarding their land with their ferocious dogs.  Ebe’s property overlooks the farm, and he has his suspicions that foul play is afoot. When his dog disappears he pays the farmers a visit, but his reception and a closer look at the farm does nothing to calm his fears, something is happening there, the farmers have a strange look about them, they are hiding a secret, and all is not as it seems.

The police will not help the locals, the farmers from the city have too much money, however, the hill folk are not as powerless as they seem.

Nance, is the leader of the hill folk, she is as old as the hills, fearless, and with her Guardians and powers she stands against the forces of evil who have taken over their lives. When the farmers arrive at her door, Ebe watches powerless as a battle of good against evil ensues, but is it a battle Nance can win, and will the peaceful inhabitants of Crossings ever be safe from the terrible evil?

This is a wonderful story, anyone who has lived in a small community which has been subject to change can immediately emphasize with this small town, not wanting to be interfered with, resenting unfriendly newcomers, and resisting change. However, this is not an ordinary community and the characters in this story are not all normal people, some of them have magical powers and the changes are not minor, they are a struggle of good versus evil.

I read this book in one sitting, it has a wonderful storyline and is a really enjoyable fantasy.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

 Who Turned Out The Lights?

by Ronald Wilde

Product Details

A very interesting and no holes barred memoir.

I have read many memoirs and I can honestly say, none of them have been like this one.

Diagnosed as diabetic aged ten the author’s parents, ignored the condition, even though his father was a diabetic also. This lack of concern carried on through his life until the disease started to affect him, in ways he could not ignore.

This story is a no-holes-barred honest chronicle of Ronald’s life. He tells his story in a very frank, matter of fact and sometimes humorous way, and gives the reader an incredible insight into what it is like to lose your eye sight.

His story is not told as a sad one, there are many different facets to it as he rationally discusses the impact his life had on his loved ones, and his relationships. Moreover, it is a unique insight into actually coming to terms with the loss of your sight, and the obstacles both mentally and physically which have to be overcome during the process.

As his diabetes worsens other factors affect his life, and the book appears to finish quite abruptly, however this is because, I suspect, there is more to come…

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Doorways (A Book of Vampires, Werewolves & Black Magic)

by Tim O’Rourke

Pure Magic! These two words sum up this book completely.

Zach and his sister are orphaned and have been sent to live with their strange and evil uncle. His poor sister is ill, however, one of Zach’s favourite ways to escape their unhappy life is to run along the beach. One day he discovers, in the sand, a door. Well, what 16 year old boy could resist opening it? When he does, he finds himself in an alternative world called Endra.

As soon as he steps through the door, he meets William who’s a Werewolf, and a beautiful Vampire called Neanna, who tell him that he’s a Peacekeeper, and they have been waiting for him…

The author, Tim O’Rourke, has an amazing imagination, the story is magical and contains every creature imaginable, from vampires, witches, sorcerers, werewolves and some unimaginable ones too.

This is a great adventure for young adults, or even adults, who are young at heart. For me it is comparable to The Lord of The Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. If you love fantasy, adventure and pure escapism, combined with a good story, then this is the book for you. I can’t wait to read the continuation of their adventures in book 2.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

 

235_Susan_Keefe

Finding, Buying & Improving a Period House – No.5

Think about the garden almost as much as the house.

You will probably spend a lot of time there and it should be viewed as an important room. Don’t rush into cutting down trees, they were planted for a reason, the shade offered in the summer may be critical and far outweigh the reduction in light during the winter.

However do plant trees, shrubs and perennials at the appropriate time as soon as possible. They are cheaper when smaller and will take years to mature whereas you can buy and fit a loo in a day or so.

Consider how much time, effort and money you want to put into maintenance of the garden. Walk around and look over fences, see which plants are thriving and whether there is an irrigation system. If your property doesn’t have its own source, irrigating from the mains will be expensive. If you don’t know the names of plants you see, take some photos, garden centres usually have helpful staff that will identify them for you. Grass is wonderful but an English lawn in some areas can be difficult to establish & keep green and if it does well will need regular mowing. I know it sounds horrendous, but consider the latest types of artificial grass; they not only look very realistic but feel good under bare feet.

The artificial grass lawn from Golf Green City in the South of France doesn’t need watering or mowing.

The artificial grass lawn from Golf Green City in the South of France doesn’t need watering or mowing.

 

Respect the original but remember that houses evolve.

It is important to resist the temptation to over improve; cottages were built for and often by “the workers”. They were constructed using locally sourced materials at the minimum cost. Re-cycling was common, the builders would have made use of whatever was available, practicality was usually more important than beauty.

Stone was often dragged from a river bed rather than quarried, removing the render can reveal a wall of so many small stones that when pointed you see more mortar than stone. Using cut stone for the reveals (door and window openings) and the quoins (corners) was expensive, it would have been easier and cheaper to make a timber lintel (beam over an opening) than a stone one. There are many cottages with cut stone; perhaps there was a ruined château or town wall nearby and the stones were re-used? Look for marks carved in the stones; they may indicate where the stone was originally used in a fortification.

A maison de maître was not just a comfortable place to live; it was also often the statement of success by a self made man for all to see. Well not quite all, only those who passed by the front; usually the rear out of sight of the road and visitors is quite ordinary and of much lower quality.

It would be out of keeping fitting out the interior of a cottage in too grand a style as it would be to treat all of a maison de maître as “public” rooms. A cottage that is over a century old will not offer the same space and natural light as a modern house; there will have to be a compromise between modern expectations and respecting the integrity of the original. Knocking down partition walls and making larger windows can ruin the feel and atmosphere of a cottage to such an extent that it restricts the market when you eventually want to sell.

Having said all of that, houses do evolve and there is a balance to be found where the modern can be appropriately introduced into an old property. Long standing examples would be the introduction of electricity, reducing the size of fireplaces when they were not needed for cooking, replacing rough stone floors with factory made tiles and of course central heating. You will have to decide on the “look” you wish to achieve; it is not essential to faithfully copy the original. It is possible to skilfully introduce modern materials and style without it looking out of keeping. A large dramatic example of this is the very modern extension to the old library in Copenhagen. When the plans were first shown it produced a “monstrous carbuncle” reaction amongst many Danes, but now built there are few who don’t admit that it looks “wonderful”. I have seen several period French houses where modern steel staircases look just right.

Decisions, decisions, decisions …………… that’s why I recommend not to rush.

JOHN MARSHALL – Chartered Valuation Surveyor § Building Pathologist

www.JohnMarshallSurveys.com

This article was originally published in French Property News.

Vine Lines for September – Harvest Time !

September is already on its final lap, but our harvest hasn’t even got past the starting block.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100True, we did a bit of moonlighting and quickly nipped in for a drop of zesty machine-harvested reserve for our country wine one night last week, but as for the rest? Pouf, as they say en francais, we are not there yet. Next week, maybe, all going well. The trick is to get the absolutely right balance between freshness and fruit, and at the moment, the acidity in the grapes is still too high.

Not even these baby boar find the grapes sweet enough for their baby boar palates (see what they get up to when the lights goBoar14 out here).

The good news is, the conditions so far have been nothing short of magnificent, and the grapes along with them. White grapes – like a lot of us – prefer to mature slowly rather than at great speed. For that we need wall-to-wall blue skies sunny-side down, with a dry brisk westerly wind and cool nights. Well, we have all the above in bucket-loads, and the grapes are singing a chorus of hallelujahs all over our fields. And we with them. Long may this weather continue.

Seriously though, hanging on and holding out is a stressful business, no matter how beautiful it all looks at this point.

But waiting can pay off, as we have seen from the recent review of our 2013 wines by the world’s favourite most famous English wine critic, Jancis Robinson MW. She said what we ourselves would most have wished her to say: that our Chardonnay holds its ground against better-known Burgundies; that our Chenin blanc talks the talk – though it doesn’t grunt the grunt – of the great Vouvray and Montlouis classics, and that our Mauzac is a text-book example of what a good, pure mauzac should be. In fact, “pure” and “clean”, “crystalline” and “fresh” are the recurring words. What more could we want? Just one thing, please: an acknowledgement that that these cool climate white wines from the South of France are wines that can age – and she gives us that too. To put it in understated Jancis Robinson terms, we are VVP (very, very pleased)

Also uplifting and encouraging are the reviews from the two most highly respected French wines guides,Bettane & Desseauve, and la Revue du Vin de France, who both also published their authoritative 2015 wine guides this month.

CarylBarrelSo it’s really been a good month. But the hail that fell just 15 minutes from us in Carcassonne last Monday, and even closer to home in Verzeille yesterday, sounded some warning shots over our heads: nothing is certain until those grapes are home and hosed, and no harvest is good until it is done. Until then, each of us in the family deals with the situation in his/her own way, as we wait – patiently and expectantly

You will hear from us again when it is all over …

Until then, with our best wishes to you, and our fervent hopes that the sun will shine on us all

 

Enjoy life like a true Provençal!

500519_1024Downloading this top selling app to your smart phone or tablet will help you to relax and enjoy life like a true Provençal!

Provence is one of those magical destinations which travellers dream about – blue skies, warm days, balmy evenings, healthy cuisine, splendid architecture, a fascinating heritage and the wonderful sing-song accent of the local inhabitants, the Provençaux. It is almost as much a state of mind as a geographical area!

This great app will help you to explore the exciting southern cities of Nîmes, Aix-en-Provence Marseille and Avignon as well as the many beautiful villages of the area. If you love the Great Outdoors then the fascinating Camargue Nature Park and France’s breathtaking Grand Canyon, the Gorges du Verdon, won’t disappoint! History aficionados can marvel at the amazing Pont du Gard aqueduct built by the Romans 2000 years ago and the remains of a medieval bridge built, according to local legend, across the Rhône at Avignon by a shepherd boy!

A good selection of hotels, self-catering accommodation and restaurants is included in addition to many useful tips to facilitate your enjoyment of the  area.

The app is available for iPhones and iPads by clicking here: Provençal Roaming.  An Android version can also be obtained from Google Play.

 

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-ProvenceFounded in AD 122 by the Romans and known as Aquas Sextias, Aix , the old capital of Provence and seat of the Aix Parliament, is a charming and graceful city with 17 and 18C buildings, squares and magnificent avenues.

The most well-known of these avenues is the Cours Mirabeau , named after the Revolutionary politician, right in the centre of town and lined with magnificent plane trees. Constructed on the old ramparts, the Cours Mirabeau is really the hub of Aix with many cafés including the famous Café des Deux Garçons which were frequented by the likes of the writer Emile Zola and the artist Paul Cézanne .

Aix is also famous for its fountains and three of these can be found along the length of the Cours Mirabeau – the Fontaine des Neuf Canons; the Fontaine d’Eau Thermale and the Fontaine du Roi René.

Finally, before you leave Aix you have to sample the famous Calisons – these confections made from candied fruit, ground almonds and royal icing are absolutely delicious and must not be missed!

 

Extract from Provençal Roaming. Words and image ©Paul Shawcross

Summer’s gone – leave the autumn gloom behind

As another summer is consigned to the history books, our immediate attention now shifts to the autumn – although we’ll all harbour hopes of an Indian summer to help us through it.

For many of us, autumn spells grim weather, no time off to look forward to until Christmas, and just the monotonous drudge of the everyday until then.

For some, this is all too much, and they’ll and go in search of something different – a new home in a new country – and the vast majority will never regret their decision. Indeed some have already made their move, and haven’t looked back.

One of expats’ main considerations is how far their money will go in their new country. Whether the exchange rate is in their favour can determine what they can get for their money. If you’re moving from the UK, a stronger pound means a better exchange rate, so mortgage and deposit payments will be lower when you’re transferring your funds. For those transferring pension payments to their new account, their money will go further

Unfortunately for those selling sterling, the pound has endured a difficult August. This was in part down to some confusion around interest rate policy, which culminated in two members of the Monetary Policy Committee voting for an increase in interest rates. The Bank of England’s new focus on wages as part of its forward guidance plan also took sterling lower, as did volatility around the Scottish referendum. At the time of writing, GBPUSD is sat just below the 1.61 level for the first time since November of last year. Despite this negativity around sterling, it’s still up on last year, when GBPUSD was down at around 1.56. Back then, £300,000 would have got you around $468,000. Today, that same amount would get you about $483,000 – a difference of around $15,000. But Brits looking to move overseas will be looking for an upturn in the strength of the pound.

Interestingly, because the euro is going through a similarly tough time, the pound isn’t really suffering against the single currency. As GDP in the Eurozone in the second quarter stagnated, and as inflation continues to fall, pressure on the euro is likely to continue. In the last six months, GBPEUR has risen from as low as 1.193 in May 2014 to 1.264 at the start of September, which equates to an increase of over €21,000 on a £300,000 transfer. USDEUR is up from 0.72 in May to 0.77 at the time of writing. That’s an increase of around €20,000 on a $400,000 transfer.

USD is currently performing well, and has progressed from unwanted to roundly desirable. In the month of August, the dollar was 1.73% stronger than the pound, and at the start of the month was at its lowest level since September last year. For those working in the US and repatriating their salary, more of their money will be making it home. They may even decide the time is right to fix an exchange rate for their currency transfers going forward – what’s known as a forward contract – so they’ll always know what they’ll get.

AUD is looking in good health, despite the fact that the Australian dollar spent most of its month recovering from a devastatingly poor unemployment report that pushed the jobless rate to the highest level in 12 years. Though this in itself is a poor figure, full-time employment actually rose by 14,500, so it’s not all bad. Against the euro, AUD has gone from 0.65 in March to above 0.72 at the time of writing. On a AU$300,000 transfer, that’s an increase of €21,000 in six months. Against the pound, AUD is 2.39% stronger in the month of August, so a good time for Aussie expats to make the most of better rates when buying abroad.

Canadian volatility has subsided in the past few months, especially as news from south of the border has improved. In fact, news from the Canadian economy has also begun to look up apart from one, crucial area; inflation. CADEUR is up from below 0.65 six months ago to close to 0.71 at the time of writing, and in the same space, CADGBP has gone from sub-0.54 to above 0.5650.

Wherever you’re moving from, a continued slip in the euro is making buying property in Europe an attractive proposition, as you’ll get more for your money. The fresh start provided by a big move could be all you need to halt the autumn gloom.

Written by Simon Hilton, senior foreign exchange consultant at World First

FINANCIAL_344_World_First_May14

A fearsome dragon takes to the streets in Nantes…

LongMa, the Cheval-Dragon carries the DND of The Sultan’s Elephant…

Dear Prime Minister,

The Rt Hon David Cameron

10 Downing Street

Sir,

I am the veteran expat recently awarded the MBE and who leads the campaign of British expats in Europe for an end to the “15 year rule” and the return to us of our democratic right to vote. You will be of course aware that we are disenfranchised, for we cannot vote either in the country in which we reside. I write to you with a proposal that could end this long standing dispute.

There may well be a referendum in the future on the matter of UK membership of the European Union, and the outcome of such a referendum is uncertain, but should the result be to withdraw from Europe, it would be in our view (and that of the CBI) a disaster for the UK.

Hence we make a proposal for your consideration:-

1. The Government take steps at once to end the “15 year rule”, in time to allow all expats in Europe to register in their last constituency in the UK and vote in the general election of 2015.


2. British expats in Europe, organised in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, etc., on the announcement of a referendum will organise, a mass vote of the expats, to stay in Europe. /

Such a campaign will be backed by “Conservatives Abroad”, “Labour International” and the “LiberalsAbroad”.
What we propose will ensure certain victory to “stay in”, Perhaps, there is merit in the recent article (2-15-2014); 

http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21596527-veteran-wants-votes-expatsand-not-taking-no-answer-freedom-fighter in the Economist which suggests that “the Government might “lend Mr Shindler an ear”.

We are sure this proposal will receive your serious consideration and await your reply.

Sincerely,

Harry Shindler MBE

Comment by Brian Cave

Pressure needs to be put upon current MPs – the Liberal Democrat MPs and especially the Labour MPs to rally to this call. Harry is a life long Labour supporter. Yet it is disturbing that the Labour party machine appears deaf to his call of democratic common sense. The Labour Party seems not to understand that they have as much to gain from granting this universal vote for British Citizens as any.

The Liberal Democrats are calling for an ‘exploration’ of the situation in their manifesto. Why are they not going hell bent for it. What is there to fear? As Franklin Roosevelt said They ‘have nothing to fear but fear itself’. If the Government would only bring itself to trust the citizens, they could find that the citizens trust IT. Let us have a dialogue of British Citizens across the World, based on mutual respect and understanding.
So get in touch with some MPs – particularly the Labour and Liberal Democrats.

(List of MPs  http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/ )

Dear ***** MP.” I am (or I am not) one of your constituents – (However) Please read this mail and take it seriously.

As a British Citizen I need to have the right to be listened to – to have a political voice for life. The 15 year limit on representation for us, living abroad, should in all conscience be lifted before the next election in 2015.

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are including moves towards this in their next manifestos, but this needs to be raised before 2015.

Please remember, provided you are still eligible, to register to vote for the forthcoming General Election in May 2015.

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote www.votes-for-expat-brits.com & www.votes-for-expat-brits-blog.com

 

If Scotland votes “Aye” – What are tax consequences for individuals.

shutterstock_136214774There is very little on the practical tax consequences and possible tax planning opportunities if Scotland votes “Aye” for independence.

Most of what follows is crystal ball gazing as the infighting between London and Edinburgh on entitlement to tax revenues is likely to be intense. What follows are some fairly random thoughts on what will turn out to be a major upheaval.

  • Scotland – England tax treaty. An independent Scotland will need to negotiate a tax treaty with England. This will probably follow the OECD model though expect a lengthy paragraph dealing with taxation of oil.
  • Scotland will need to negotiate new tax treaties with other countries. It may be that the UK treaty will continue to apply to Scotland’s relationship with third countries in the short term.  As Scottish taxation will start to change quickly after any independence this should throw up tax planning opportunities. As an example will Scotland be viewed as a “third party country” when considering the tax position between England and another country even though Scotland is also treated as a party to the same treaty.
  • Scotland will be outside the EU. Will this mean that the treaties relating to tax enforcement and collection by member states of the EU will not apply?
  • Some EU countries give favourable tax treatment to residents of EU countries. France is an example. Will Scots selling homes in France as non EU residents pay higher French capital gains tax
  • Will it be possible for an English resident non-English domiciliary (UK resident – non-dom) to be taxed on Scottish income and gains on the remittance basis if Scotland is a separate country? In other words if the non-domiciliary keeps his income/gain in Scotland he pays no English tax?
  • Will Scottish assets be outside the scope of English Inheritance tax for a non-English domiciliary as a foreign asset? Could English assets be held through foreign Scottish companies?
  • Will there exceptionally be an Inheritance Tax treaty between the two countries?
  • What will be the tax position of border workers who live in one country and work in the other?
  • How will pension income from an English provider paid to a Scottish recipient and vice versa be taxed?
  • Will Scotland keep the UK’s Statutory Residence Test? This is a big change in the UK’s previous position and helpful in giving certainty to well off people planning moves for tax purposes.
  • Will Scotland keep the UK’s offshore taxation rules? Do wealthy Scottish residents who are beneficiaries of offshore trusts need to consider moving to England or would Scotland make it more attractive for them to remain in Scotland
  • Will English businesses have to charge VAT to Scottish customers if Scotland is not part of the EU? If VAT is charged which country will collect it?
  • Could Scotland legally keep VAT if it is not part of the EU? Would it instead have to implement a similar Scottish sales tax? How will this work with supplies from and to EU countries?
  • Scotland could reduce its VAT rate so that prices for consumers in shops would actually fall. This would be made up by increasing tax elsewhere but would be a very popular move with the less well-off and head off any discontent after a yes vote.
  • Would moving a company’s registered office between England and Scotland trigger a tax charge? If so where would the tax be payable?
  • Competitive taxation between England and Scotland is inevitable. It will probably be similar to the tax competition between Swiss cantons. Scotland could for instance reduce its Inheritance Tax rate to attract older high net wealth individuals to live in the country.
  • Will there be a “big bang” date when all taxation rights will move to Scotland say on Independence Day or will it be phased. What will the transition rules be and which courts will decide disputes.
  • What will happen to historic tax disputes? Will they be heard in English or Scottish courts? Will the files and HMRC officers have to transfer the files to their English/Scottish counterparts?
  • Will England impose punitive 300% taxation on imported Scottish Haggis? Will any English people care?

September 2014

David Anderson Solicitor Advocate and Chartered Tax Adviser

Olga Tabenko

Sykes Anderson Perry Limited

9 Devonshire Square

London EC2M 4YF

Telephone 020 3178 3770

david.anderson@saplaw.co.uk

www.saplaw.co.uk

FINANCIAL_148_Sykes_Anderson_International_Tax_Oct14

P is for Property

A sign of the troubled times in which we are living is that we are constantly being asked whether the French property market has been hit as badly by that pesky credit crunch as the UK. Yes, the market has been hit but, as has been documented before in this esteemed publication, caution on the part of the French banks (i.e. not offering people mortgages 60 times their income or throwing credit cards at them when they can ill afford the repayments!) has meant that the market has proved more robust than in the UK.

It is, nonetheless, not the easiest of times to sell your home in France, so I thought I’d share my top tips for making sure your property is the one with the “Sold” sign outside.

1. Be selective with agents

Before signing mandates with every agent in town (it’s astoundingly common) think how incentivised an agent will be to spend time and money marketing a house when they know that every other Jean, Pierre and Marie also has it on their books.

On the other hand, avoid signing an exclusive mandate with that lovely local agent who knows everyone in the village but relies solely on customers walking through the door to look at his product. Exclusive mandates for agents working alone are only ever in the interest of one person, and that’s the agent.

Do consider however, an agent who works in partnership with a recognised local network. One such network is the Service Inter Agences (SIA) where numerous agents spread throughout a department share exclusive mandates with each other (there are currently 22 in the Pyrénées-Orientales). You benefit from having a single point of contact while gaining exposure to a much wider client base, and you can still maintain the right to sell the property yourself.

Whoever you choose to sell your house, they should have a good website with an international presence, preferably be a member of the FNAIM (the governing body of estate agents in France) and be able to tell you exactly how and where they intend to market your property.

2. Be realistic regarding price

The local property magazines such as Logic Immo will give you an idea of what your house may be worth, but bear in mind that there is still a lot of overpriced property on the market in France- often houses which have been on the market for months and, in some cases, years. There’s always a market for every property, and if it stays unsold for more than a few months, there’s usually only one reason – PRICE! Listen to your agent’s advice on what is actually selling and at what price, and get a second opinion if your own valuation differs wildly from his or hers.

Again, consider things from the agent’s point of view and ask yourself how motivated they will be to market a house which they think is overvalued. If you do get viewings, they will only serve to highlight what a bargain a comparable property is.

One plus of the current economic situation is that if you are taking your money back to the UK, the strong euro works in your favour so you can afford to accept a lower euro price than you would have even a month ago.

3. Tidy up

Your property needs to be tidy when the agent comes to photograph it as well as each and every time potential buyers come round. This sounds so obvious but believe me, I speak from bitter experience when I share these words of wisdom with you. Many’s the time that I have turned up to take on a house and been faced with a bombsite littered with toys/kids/pets/washing up/rubbish.

4. Think about how potential buyers will see your property

Properties always look more attractive and welcoming a) uncluttered b) with shutters and curtains open c) when pets, particularly over-exuberant dogs, are shut away rather than slobbering over potential buyers and d) without sullen teenagers lurking in rooms. Buyers need to feel comfortable while walking around your house, not guilty for interrupting your daily life. Remember, this is one of the biggest investments they will ever make in their lives and anything which gives a negative impression could scupper your sale.

5. Make every room accessible

You need to allow potential buyers to see all parts of your house so make sure you have the keys to all locked doors. And yes, they will want to see the junk room so tidy that up too (a good time to de-clutter and chuck out). If a buyer can’t get in to a room, they may well assume that you are hiding something and that could turn a yes into a no way.

6. Make your house available for viewings

If an interested buyer is in France for only a couple of days and can’t get into your property because you’re away for the weekend and haven’t forewarned your agent it’s bye bye client and a potential sale bites the dust. Make sure someone always has keys so you don’t miss out.

The truth is that there are still buyers around (and a higher than average percentage of serious ones at that) but they know that they are in a strong position and that they have the luxury of choice. To sell your house in this market, you need to think smart. Bon courage!

Louise Sayers France SOS

 

PROPERTY_175_France_SOS_Oct14

This series of articles first appeared in French Property News magazine. Please note that some of the information contained in them may be out of date.

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