How to choose your second home?
Do you want a lovely house by the sea or a charming chalet in a ski resort? Will you use your second home for several months of the year or just a few weeks? Here is some advice to help you to find your future second home in France.
How often do you plan to use your second home?
If you think you will use your property for just a few weeks of the year, then you might want to rent it out for the rest of the year.
A French leaseback may be your best option:
- The French leaseback scheme means you become the freehold owner of a furnished property. The length of the leaseback is usually between 9 and 11 years (renewable).
- A property management company will take care of your home and for all maintenance and hassle (bills…) and usually guarantees you up to 5% net return on your property. You will have no extra costs to pay as they will be covered by the management company (refurbishment…) throughout the length of the leaseback.
- You will receive a fixed rent which is normally linked to the inflation rate. Therefore, every year you will see your rent rising according to the construction cost (INSEE Index of Construction Cost). The rent will be paid by the property management company whether it is occupied or not. This is the reason why the percentage can only be up to 5% of the cost of the property.
- 19.6% VAT refund: if you decide to go through a French Leaseback purchase, then you will be entitled to get the VAT back (19.6% in France). In order to get a full VAT refund, you will need to rent out your property for at least 20 years. You can also decide to do a leaseback for only 9 years, in which case you will repay 11/20ths of the amount of the VAT.
Bear in mind that the leaseback scheme will not suit everyone; you need to check if it is appropriate for how you plan to use the property. If you think you will use your second home for several months then this is better to follow the usual buying process.
Location, location, location
Location is famously the most important factor to consider when buying a property and perhaps even more so when looking for your second home.
As everyday life becomes busier and more frantic, the calm of the French countryside is appealing to more and more buyers. Furthermore, prices can be very attractive. Countryside house prices have reduced by 20% over the past few years. The Limousin and the Dordogne are the top two countryside regions for British buyers, and with good reason. The Dordogne in particular is considered as one of the best rural areas in France, its hills and historical châteaux are the jewel in the crown of the Aquitaine region. Also a cultural hotspot for wine, the local economy is especially reliant on wine tourism; the Monbazillac variety is a famous wine produced in the Dordogne.
The seaside remains a popular location when buying a second home. Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence-Alpes-Côtes-d’Azur are the two regions set on France’s Mediterranean Coast. This long stretch of coastline is one of the most sought-after locations for both French and foreign buyers. If you like living close to the sea but also not far from the mountains (with the Pyrenees and the Alps) and enjoying nice, warm weather, you are probably well-suited to buying in these regions. Both of these regions are also very famous for their cultural richness and the beauty of their landscapes with the coastline and mountains. If you are a wine-lover and enjoy traditional French food, you will be sure to enjoy the very nice French wines of the South of France. They ideally complete delicious dishes of the well-known Cuisine Provencale!
Last but by no means least, a wonderful place to invest in a second home is in ski resorts in the French Alps. It is the perfect location to invest in a leaseback apartment since there are endless advantages; you can often enjoy several weeks occupancy per year either included as part of the lease or with great discounts compared to the publicly advertised price. This is in addition to a 19.6% VAT rebate on the property price thanks to French legislation.