The right questions to ask yourself before buying a second home
For many people, being confined to an apartment in the heart of the city centre has developed a desire for greenery, but it’s a long way from dreaming of becoming a gentleman farmer to actually becoming a homeowner.
First of all, you have to define your project: “Buying a second home, which will become your main residence when you retire, is very different from looking for a place to spend a vacation in the summer,” notes Laurent Vimont, president of Century 21 France. In the first case, the house must be pleasant, in a lively and well-serviced area; in the other, a building with rustic comfort in the countryside is enough.
Hourly distance and discovery
You must also determine whether the house is intended to be lived in only during the holidays or mainly on weekends. If you plan to visit it regularly, it should not be more than two hours away from your place of residence. Use geolocation and mapping tools (such as Google Maps or ViaMichelin) to define a perimeter to be prospected.If, for example, you live in eastern Paris, the time you spend on a congested ring road to reach the motorway to the west will be as long as the road to Normandy. Beware of natural obstacles: crossing the Loire in Nantes or the Rhône in Lyon at the weekend can also take a long time.
If you are not fixed on a region, go on a discovery trip.The choice will be very different depending on whether you like bocage or forest landscapes, whether you want to be close to the sea or in the fields, whether you appreciate multi-storey buildings or longère (traditional long houses), whether you want a stone or brick house… “The French countryside offers a vast choice of homes in terms of style, period and landscape,” confirms Patrice Besse, director of the Patrice Besse agencies. Sometimes, thanks to this simple prospecting, a project is transformed.
Once the region has been selected, you still have to find the property. To do this, go through the estate agencies in the area, but also the notary’s offices, whose transaction services are very active in the countryside. Also look through the classified ads, being aware that the price of country houses sold directly is often overvalued.”Many owners try to recoup the cost of development work, but this is rarely possible, because even if it is better, the real estate market in the countryside is not growing as quickly and strongly as in the cities,” says Stéphane Vachot, director of the Carré Mans agency in Le Mans.