Thursday, 21 September 2017

A Twelfth Century House - where the first time 'buyer' was a member of the Knights Templar... Wow!

Not quite Autumn (officially that is) but the Swallows are fewer and those that are still around are beginning to think about the long flight South and the Virginia Creeper is turning red a sure sign that the weather is about to turn. The Maize field that surrounds the 12th Century, La Commanderie at Yvignac is beginning to look as though it should already be harvested… It's honey coloured now, but the Bretons (probably the French everywhere) use it only as animal feed and so it lingers, extending the golden look in the fields until maybe mid October. The crops, here surrounding the house’s own 1,525 square metres garden, alternate each season with Maize, Wheat, Oil Seed Rape… brilliantly yellow at its most vibrant. That’s the one that best probably sets the house off against its surroundings. It’s vibrant and lush.

A fully renovated 4 Bedroomed stone house amidst open countryside for 340,000€... Amazing? It is!
In a house hunt when the world is your oyster there are probably a few phrases that might draw you in… especially when you begin to focus on Brittany - its closeness to Britain enabling easy journeys back as often as there is a ‘tug’ and far enough away to entice friends and family to visit now and again. With a history, heritage and, with tales of chivalry that to this day ring with authenticity at every turn. Breton history is all around us here and hasn’t been buried under housing developments and ring roads… and references to the Knights Templar and their bricks and mortar (or rather stone and lime plaster) in a building which has stood since the end of 12th Century… Well, it's a definite attraction and why you might want such a house on your viewing list.

It might sound a bit fanciful but Richard and Jacquie Farrant had much of the world to choose from when looking for a house after a career spent in the Arabian Gulf and West Africa... Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, France - Provence, the Camargue, Aquitaine, Morbihan, Finistere, The Pink Granite coast; all were considered. They even looked into the Belgian coast… So there’s thorough! 
Destiny (in the shape of a much loved pet and worn out quarantine laws) stopped them short of making the UK their home again. And, in spite of all of that by way of ‘competition’ the Cotes d’Armor won the day…Narrowed down from 'International' to very, very interesting!


"Let's try the triangle - St Malo - Rennes - St Brieuc they said... Let's stay in a chateau they said... Let's find an apartment in a splendid chateau!” The ‘quest’ was decided months in advance and so, they flew into Charles de Gaulle armed with a long list of potential properties from our website and they took the TGV to Rennes. They had already experienced the high season pace of peace on the roads in southern Brittany. And Richard echoes my own thoughts about the ‘under subscribed’ Breton transport network… “Any more than 3 cars in front of you and they call it a traffic jam!”

After looking at properties morning and afternoon for two weeks they were beginning to have second thoughts; thinking that a French house was maybe not for them. But, having rejected yet another property in Dinan it was now pouring with rain. ‘Viewing weary’ they went back to the agent’s office and spent twenty minutes saying "no! no! no!" to details pulled from the files. Then after an embarrassing number of negatives… a definite ‘maybe’! “Can you please tell us where this one is? We will do a ‘drive by’, and then phone you if we think it may be worth a visit". Jacquie went to sleep in the car. Well it had been a hard and emotional day - and it was still pouring down. So... A House in the Breton countryside? Mmmm? The first thing that struck them about the house when they arrived at its location (apart from how welcoming it looked) was what a joy it seemed to be!

And, what a fine house it is too!… the Cotes d’Armor is a wonderful area of France... The local mixed agriculture, wheat, maize, hay and the yellow rapeseed, the grazing cows; it’s always calm. There's a hush that often makes you wonder where everyone is at any time of the day, apart from those able to enjoy the advantage of leisurely lunches taken in the nearby villages.

Richard and Jacquie’s house is at Le Haut Lannouee, just outside Yvignac La Tour and close to the Yvignac forest. Ten minutes from supermarkets and shops in Broons or Dinan. Dinan! When enjoying a glass of wine at sunset as the sun’s heat is reflected off the mellow stone at La Commanderie it makes you wonder, 800 years ago when this house was new and mediaeval Dinan itself, was probably regarded as a ‘new town’, the house’s owner had little idea that his creation would still be here in the 21st century. Is it me or the wine? 

These days there’s a doctor’s practice 3 miles away in Plumaudan and all amenities within just ten minutes - that’s by car not on horseback! Although you could be forgiven for slipping back in time here! 

The house itself? Ah! Yes...

Close to historic sites, golf courses, the advantages of the sea, spa, sailing ... with possible trips on the Rance, and up to Jersey or Guernsey from St Malo. This is a calm, spacious character house dating from 12th century. 225 m2 of living space, quiet, facing south, in the unspoilt Breton countryside. A house which combines old character and modern facilities, spacious and on 3 levels.
Ground floor: laundry room, toilet, bathroom with large jacuzzi, large fitted kitchen with oak beams and exposed stone work, with table for 6, dining room with table for 12 people, hall, lounge with fireplace and log stove.

Access via two staircases, (one with Stannah Lift)  

1st floor: master bedroom: large bedroom with ornamental fireplace, bathroom and toilet, a 2nd double bedroom, shower and toilet 3rd small bedroom

2nd Floor - currently a large dressing room, but there is potential to make it a 4th bedroom.

Outside:- Double Garage
Large south facing terrace with wooden table, 6 chairs, parasol, swinging chair, and deck chairs
perfect for sitting out in the warm summer evenings.
There is plenty of space in the garden for Trampoline, Badminton, Table Tennis, BBQ etc.,
No doubt the house’s shape and size has been expanded, been chipped away at and remodelled countless times in its 800 years. But it underwent a complete renovation in the 1990’s, to bring it to a level with all of the modern conveniences and attributes and acoutrements that modern occupants would expect:- insulation, secondary glazing, a new roof, central heating etc. Of course, since the 90s there have been additions. And since the renovation the house has a mediterranean style patio facing south, protected from the wind. It overlooks a rear section of the mature garden. The building is in three stages; from an expansive kitchen with modern appliances (including a siemens coffee machine. It's a very efficient working kitchen with a well planned island site around which everything works.  There is large open plan lounge with ancient timber beams, and then to a stylish dining room, alongside a utilities room with an oil fired boiler. Stairs to the rear of the lounge space access the first floor. 

One of the 21st Century additions that the first time buyer (back in the day) would have thought very useful additions (there are many) is a powerful pump which pressurises water from the well for washing the car and watering the garden (water from the well is, of course yours, and more importantly FREE!). Nearby is the garage (which can accommodate two good sized cars). It also serves as a garden store with power points and lighting and for keeping lawn mowers etc. and of course as a log store. In summer the glorious catalpa tree provides welcome shade.

Originally a Commanderie for the Order of the Temple. The Templar Knights passed it to the Hospitalier Order of St John of Jerusalem, and then later, the Order of Malta. The Commanderie combined with that of La Guerche, and in the 17th century Lannouee was the preferred residence. The commander of Lannoue levied tithes on all the lands he had in his fief, but also in Yvignac, Trebedan, Corseul, Saint-Carne, Plénée-Jugon, the fief of the Temple, Bourse, the village of the Hospital, Tramain, the village of the Crosses and the former manor house of the Temple, Plouer, Taden, Plorec, manor called the Temple, Quéver and finally Dinan. Its history is a lot to take in at first but you'll find yourself digging into when you live amongst it!

Richard and Jacquie’s original purchase, La Commanderie, is a great house for a couple accustomed to the space of overseas ex patriate living. It has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, one downstairs with balneo/jacuzzi and with separate wc, the other upstairs with roll top bath and wc. The reception room here is both spacious and full of character, stunning. It features a huge fireplace with a large  wood-burner with glass on three sides to admire the glow… I love these; the nearest you can get to a real open fire but with a draw effect when you close the doors and the heat given off from the iron body of the stove makes a great 13kw extra radiator for hours after. Cosy!! The dining room runs the full length of the building and overlooks the patio.,, which is a great outdoors room in summer. The main loft has access via a proper staircase, and is currently laid out with wardrobes to accommodate as many changes of clothes as you could ever dream of having.

You could muse over the fact that if this beautiful property were to be found in the Home Counties then the price would doubtless be in excess of £1 million + and then, in bemusement, that here in rolling tranquil countryside in the Cote d’Armor, well, 340,000€ (+ Notaire's Fees*) and it's yours... Quite remarkable!... Glass of wine anyone? ? Hard work this relaxation!

If anyone gets this far down the page and would like to view this outstanding property then please, initially, click here to send an e-mail to with your name/phone number - landline and mobile (contact details) and the reference Richard and Jacquie’s Templar House and we will be in touch.
If you haven’t already… then check out the house’s entry on our website:-

*Notaire's Fees:

Notaire's Fees are payable on all property transfers in France, where Notaire's officiate for both buyer and seller. Unlike solicitors in the UK Notaire's are servants of the state and are responsible for a much wider remit than solicitors... their charges and disbursements though will include all of the familiar costs associated with house sales and purchase.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

NOW... That's what I Call House Prices!

Above: Nr Mortain, Lower Normandy, 4 Bedroomed Farmhouse and outbuildings
with about 2.5 acres no neighbours. 106,000€ + Notaire's Fees.

I have been told by the Ads team at Facebook that sponsored/boosted posts, where the photographs carry text on them, are less successful than no text at all. That's just blown a 35 year career in advertising out of the water... but then 'hey', this is 'new media' where video's of kittens are viewed by millions so, what do I know? Actually I can't even link my iphone, ipad and laptop together successfully, so obviously... not much.

But, the way things are shaping up, even though these Brexit jitters have upset the Foreign Currency Exchange rate market the reduction in property prices has created a buyer's market which balances out the cost of buying Brittany and Normandy and moving to or buying a holiday investment France. The reverse effect of the exchange rate ie: people selling in France to move back to UK means that they are getting a very much more beneficial rates of exchange and therefore may be prepared to accept a lower offer than they might in calmer financial times... It's something that someone like me (2% in my maths mock 'O' level) took a long time to grasp... but it's right isn't it?

I am astounded at the great value and seemingly low prices of houses in Brittany and Normandy. As properties come in from our agents on the ground I'm thinking... Hang on prices in the UK are still on the up whilst properties coming in to us just keep starting at lower and lower figures... I've also heard that those people in the UK who always harboured long term plans of buying abroad but who initially, stalled by Brexit and all its uncertainties, are cutting their losses and saying "Sod it... we'll go now!" It's a swings and roundabouts thing - dodgy exchange rate - yes... But much lower prices on the other side - definitely!" So, here are a few ridiculously priced properties (by comparison to UK) for you to coo over... Click the link under each photo to check our site(s)

Above: Lower Normandy • 5 Bedroomed Farmhouse on 5 Acres • Close to Mortain
NEW IN! • €171,500 + Notaire's Fees
Suppose it was near Steyning in West Sussex... £800,000? Probably!

Above: Commana, Finistere • 3 Bedroomed Ex-Weaver's House with 15 hectares of land - Just 3km from the Coast • Just Reduced - Can't believe this astounding value for money!!
€189,000 + Notaire's Fees

Above: South of Lamballle, Cotes d'Armor - Grand Manor House for renovation & 'Spruce-Up' on 1.75 Acres...."Shut the BarnDoor!"
€189,000 + Notaire's Fees (not an error)

Above: Nr Plourin-Plougonven, Finistere, A gorgeous 4 bedroomed Maison de Tisserand on 2600m² garden
€173,200 + Notaire's Fees

So... just a few nice looking bargains and plenty more on
and • If you didn't know before you'll now be seeing what I mean about extreme value for money in Brittany and Normandy and not only are the properties amazing and amazingly priced these regions of France. I know it takes a while for it to sink in that in spite of this Brexit lark giving everyone the ab-dabs and making them put on hold any thoughts of buying in France it is the early bird that gets the worm... and you know what they say... Who Dares... Wins!

As if this makes any difference... You want to go anyway... But - If you travel to view properties in Brittany or Normandy with us then we can offer you a saving on your Brittany Ferries crossing of 10-15%... We will send you a booking reference number when you confirm your appointment to view.

Give us a call on 01903 202272 OR e-mail via


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

In Praise of The Half Price House - JUNE -

Home and Income at Half what such a property might cost in
Devon, Cornwall, Dorset etc.,
Click to take a closer look on our website
I wonder how many of you have already clicked off to have a look at that one?! 
The Phenomenon of 'The Half Price House*' (or less) • It's quite something isn't it to be able to say - that just two hundred miles to the south of our shores; the UK's southern shores, where property is regarded as the most expensive in our own country... that there should be beautiful and interesting countryside, and that in or around intriguing and heritage steeped towns and villages, where properties are available for half the price (like for like - if such a thing should be found) of what our domestic market offers us and often quite a lot lower than half for comparable properties... (OK, OK... I know we have some international visitors... but I'm sure there are many points of recognition for you too). Scroll down for some more 'Half Price' properties!

This one is available for just 26,500€?!!... 
Of course, a lot less than half its seeming value...

26,500€? It wouldn't even buy you a one car garage in L.A. (Littlehampton!).
But, "comparable properties", I hear you say. That's maybe not quite the right term to use, because often Brittany and Normandy have some houses that aren't matched or like those commonly to be found in the UK... But there are many more of the property types that 2nd home seekers or cross channel movers are looking for. Something different to what's commonly found in Britain... whether it's because of the antiquity or the location there are plenty of places in Northern France that fire the imagination as well as having an appeal to the pocket. Especially where buyers are looking to 'sell their own at the top', move on and buy lower down the budget ladder to maximise their funds in hand ... especially if it's to provide or expand a 'pension pot' - the occupational or private pension that was just not affordable when you were younger or that just won't cut it when it's important that it should...

164,000€ + Notaire's Fees 3 Bedroomed Renovated House in picturesque village with huge municipal lake
have a closer look at this on our BRITTANY site
Here (and below) are a few picks from this month's intake or those dropped in price that, if they were on home turf, would be offered at double or more ...
Click around our sites... www.ahouseinbrittany or www.ahouseinnormandy and, if you see something that you don't want to miss... drop us an e-mail or give us a call if you want to put more equity or funds into your life. We'll fix your viewing appointment you go:- Exciting times ahead!
220,500€ + Notaire's Fees - On an island! - Between Josselin and Loudeac
A 2 Bedroomed Mill House
on the banks of the Nantes/Brest Canal with 1035m2 of land
Click to see this on our Brittany website

76,680€ + Fees • La Chapelle Neuve BRITTANY
3 Bedroomed Cottage + Outbuildings + 1 Acre

407,500€ + Fees • Morlaix BRITTANY
5 Bedroomed House + Chalet + Pool + Garage + 4 Acres

link to it on our BRITTANY site
192,500€ + Fees • Villedieu Les Poeles NORMANDY
3 Bedroomed House + 2 Bedroomed Gite + 8 Acres

link to it on our NORMANDY site
90,720€ + Fees • Lonay L'Abbaye NORMANDY
2 Bed Cottage + Cottage to Renovate + 1.75 Acres

We post new properties on our sites on a daily basis as they come in...
...AND the stand out properties are featured on our FaceBook page... 
If you haven't already...'Like' us there in order 
to see them everyday when you go online...
Check out our FB page and Like it!

*Note: I'm using the description 'Half Price House to illustrate the huge difference between prices in the Southern half of the UK and the area we cover in Northwest France where like for like properties are often half the price or less of what is available on the UK market.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Property Price Drops... It's a Normandy & Breton Bonanza!!

NORMANDY  Tessy-sur-Vire • 6 Bedroomed property 2 Gites nr 14,000m2 
Price WAS 360,400 € +Notaire's Fees • Price NOW 299,000 € +Notaire's Fees
Sorry about the alliteration... But what's happening just now is worthy of a tabloid style headline! As we trawl our website and those of our agents and associates purging those properties that have sold and adjusting the prices of those recently reduced it's obvious that there is the atmosphere of a 'bargain basement'. This phenomenon occurs when there is a situation of political movement... buyers are more nervous and cautious and vendors begin to wonder just when they are likely to sell and move on with their lives. So, there are price drops of properties that launched on to the market at the prices that vendors originally valued them at (often it's too high for the state of the market) and, by stealth they ratchet down and soon pass the acceptable, the intriguing toward the downright unbelievable. That's the time to strike and... when many, who have been watching the market. but maybe not quite closely enough find they have lost out and that the bargain has gone. It's one of those times right now...

BRITTANY • 3 bed House and 3 bed cottage with 1500m² with pool..
Price Originally 185,000 € +Notaire's Fees • Price NOW 135,975€ +Notaire's Fees
There has always been an incredible contrast between prices in (say) Southern England (in fact almost anywhere in the UK) and northern France... and nowhere is it more pronounced than in Brittany and Normandy... Check out some of the latest drops that we have been able to make on our websites in just a few recent days.

BRITTANY  Former flour mill with 3 bed house + 3 bedroomed house on 6 acres 
Price Originally  242,075 € +Notaire's Fees • Price NOW 169,600 € +Notaire's Fees
What's wrong with these places? Absolutely nothing!!... It's just politics. And the motto has to be "Who Dares Wins!" Quite simply if you are the first amongst those interested but have been hanging on for the political gloom to will be the first one to the prize! And it's starting to happen now... After a long period of inactivity we sold two houses in just two days last week and enquiries are on the increase...

NORMANDY • Lonlay L'Abbaye 2 Bedroomed Cottage (120m2 living space) on 7,126m2 + small cottage to renovate
Price WAS  120,400 € +Notaire's Fees • Price NOW 90,720 € +Notaire's Fees
We're here to fix appointments for you with our agents. They are all fully registered, English or English speaking and all can take you through from Maison to Manoir, Petite to Palatial, from Ruin to Renovation, And, from Ooh and Ahh  to Ooh-la-lah! Compromis to Completion - Oops... sorry about the alliteration! 
BRITTANY • Lamballle - 4 Bed Manor House for Renovation 'Spruce-Up' on 1.75 Acres
Price WAS  220,500 € +Notaire's Fees • Price NOW 189,000 € +Notaire's Fees

NORMANDY Le Teilleul 4 bedroomed detached stone house on 4800m2
Quiet setting in a Cul-de-sac • Restored habitable condition 
Price WAS 170,000 € +Notaire's Fees • Price NOW 160,000 € +Notaire's Fees 

o... Get House Hunting... We look forward to hearing from you!
01903 202272 (when we're in Brittany it patches through) to 00 33 (0)296 56 39 33

Thursday, 23 February 2017

When Pets Travel Abroad....

Now that I'm almost two... they are letting me get involved!

At last... I have a legitimate reason for writing a (dog) blog:- one that's more about me and my own needs (and my species) rather than just 'the management' here and what THEY get up to - the uprights!... One of the team that I 'work' with (and I use the term loosely) suggested that we should put out some information about the ins and outs of ferrying (literally in my case) your pets backwards and forwards across the channel to France. It's only fair to tell you how it applies to me and our own travel habits... But I will also provide links (at the bottom of this page) to other places that may be of further help. I've been to and fro between Sussex and the Cotes d'Armor around 8 times in the last 15 months so I think I qualify... n'est-ce pas?

So here goes... Rudy Slade... A House in Brittany Near Loudeac, the Cotes d'Armor...

We almost always travel to France with Brittany Ferries. It's a longer sea trip across the western channel (from Portsmouth to St Malo) rather than the cheaper to travel, narrower straits further east, toward Newhaven and Dover etc., BUT the western channel makes for a shorter car journey on the other side for our house is in Brittany - just 90 minutes drive from the port.
A ticket for a pet costs £40 for the round trip... (other carriers may vary). That's the same whether you have a kennel or leave your cat, dog, ferret, rabbit or gerbil in the car. I travel in the van with all the comforts of home... food, water, treats and toys and that's where I stay for the duration of the voyage. The kennels, by comparison, are open fronted (although under cover) but they have metal sides, are quite noisy and the sound echoes a bit and they don't offer much by way of creature comforts... When the weather is bad they can often be windy as they are open to the air and also sometimes are wet underfoot. So, for me, the van or car is definitely the best option. It's obviously up to the pet owner to choose.

Segregation of pet carrying vehicles. The Dockers who marshall the vehicles as they are driven on-board are supposed to make sure that vehicles carrying pets (you will be given a fluorescent sticker for the windscreen) should not be directly next to each other. We heard a story via our vet in France that two dogs parked in adjacent cars antagonised each other so much that they both, simultaneously tore the inside out of their owners' cars to shreds... upholstery, headlining... the lot! So, if you are placed next to another vehicle with a 'pet on board' sticker you may want to have a word before too many more vehicles arrive on the deck making moving to an alternative position impossible.

Dogs DON'T GO on the Passenger Decks or in the cabins. If dogs are ever allowed on the passenger decks it is likely that they will be Guide Dogs/Help Dogs or sometimes on certain vessels when the kennels are not on the same deck as the vehicles (eg: Pont Aven). Dogs are not allowed on the passenger decks WITHOUT a muzzle.

You CAN visit your pet during the voyage. The ferry company will put out a call over the tannoy on board on departure and ask all pet owners to visit to the Information desk to log-in and find out what time visits will be. It is normal that this will be once on a night crossing and twice during daytime crossings. We almost always cross at night so that my uprights don't (for me) add to the trauma of just being in unfamiliar surroundings - but, if it's night time, then I would normally be asleep anyway and so life goes on pretty much as normal. Conversely a daytime crossing, with me in the van, means I will be banged up all day on the boat and then... as soon as we get home they will go to bed and I'm expected to do the same... just when I'm raring to go. So night time trips suit me best. We are very lucky; our journey on the UK side is only 40 minutes and, as long as I am allowed to go for a wee as soon as we are out of the ferry port then I can relax until we get home. Note:- In St Malo there is a parking area adjacent to the exit road right by the beach where you can park either when getting off the boat OR before getting on... where dogs can have a stretch or a run on the beach. In fact it's OK for Camper Vans to park (free of charge) for the whole night before a morning boat. If that suits your uprights better.

So... you are travelling with your favourite pooch or moggie... but - before you do - your travelling pet must be chipped and have a passport with all details of to-ing and fro-ing recorded... That's probably the easy bit... You just go to your vet and get the chip 'injected' under the skin usually on the left side of the neck - just above the shoulder... No pain... No gain! The vet will issue a form to complete in order for the passport to be issued. There must also be a record on the passport of a Rabies Injection having been administered. Following the date of the jab there will have to be a wait of 21 days before you can travel. This could obviously cause a hindrance if you are in a hurry and you haven't taken the necessary steps but it's a whole lot better than having to put your special friend through quarantine for 6 months in a special designated kennels, maybe even a long way from home - which is the way things used to be ! Eek! Some Gerbils don't even live that long!!

At each embarkation point, whether coming or going... your owner will have to take a chip reader from the person manning the check-in cabin and wave it about over the area where the chip was inserted by your vet. This is not a big deal... although sometimes chips may move around a bit under the skin - and, when owners can't find the chip with the machine it sets them off into a bit of a panic but, to me, it's just a bit of fun... I'm laughing with them not AT them you understand... It cracks me up!

Coming Back to the UK from Europe... Your pet must attend a vet before the return journey between 24 hours and 120 hours prior to embarkation in order to have a Tape Worm tablet administered (perish the thought) and to have his/her passport stamped to declare that they are fit to travel. The cost of this is is between 35 and 45 Euros. I know, I know... it seems like a licence for them to print money. It takes a very short time and the cost of the medication is really minimal. But, most vets will give your pet the once over and may offer some advice on anything that looks like it could be trouble... My upright says it's a bit like 'advisories on an MOT' whatever that is! And the passport stamp is something you can't avoid so why not just chill out and make the most of the experience.

That's just about all I know about the ferry thing really... It may sound a bit long winded and somewhat complicated affair but, as you go through it step by step it's all very logical and straightforward. Obviously if you are traveling by air there are additional pro's and con's but I didn't have a lot to do with that when I first took up this traveling lark - even though I did fly from Athens to Brussels (it doesn't half make your arms ache! arf!!) before I took up with this mob... So you're on your own with that side of things... It's life on the ground and crossing the channel that I'm into these days! Cheers for now... Rudy x

btw... Here's a site we came across which offers some advice about pets traveling by air:-

If you're HERE and you don't have a house THERE... Look for one! -

This was me on my first trip to Brittany... How young do I look here? Amazing!!
Take it from me... it's not a complicated process... I've done it loads of times now... including the time when I first came over to the UK from Greece as a scruffy rescue mutt... and look at me now - Seasoned international traveller!

Take it easy... and Bon Voyage!

Monday, 20 February 2017

Snapshots of A House in Brittany

We've watched  a load of 'Do Up' TV programmes (who, buying 'here' in Brittany hasn't?) but we have never seen that what we have been up to in Brittany is anything like any of these shows - with or without an audience... But, after a few 'mooching' trips we found this little beauty and paid just £12,000 for it. What many people would have regarded as, pretty much a ruin - perhaps,  but rather than being able to compact our work on the house into just a few months in an intensive way... or a year or two, perhaps more realistically, we have chugged our way through 17 years of ownership meandering through bite sized pieces of renovation with a few intense phases that have involved a few other trades along the way. 

In the beginning we were flabbergasted; couldn't believe...that a couple of Brits could, with the greatest luck, just breeze in and pick up an 18th Century farmhouse with three barns a well, a bread oven and the three quarters of an acre of land that were left close around it for such a pittance. Even now I have to pinch myself when we are approaching the house as we do 6 times a year journeys there...

The only reason that a house and land like ours could be offered for the price of a Fiat 500 is if there were ongoing plans for a new housing estate to be built. And, I have seen this happen in Sussex; that a house can be blighted by plans for a nearby development... but, as with many things here in the UK they were still asking far too much for a house in the country which was due to be hemmed in by not very nice neighbouring properties... actually though in France new Lotissement (estate) houses are just awful... and far worse than most things built in the UK tend to turn out. So here's a series of before and after photo's of our own project in Brittany along with a continuation of the blurb about the work which still, after all these years is still on-going!

Yes, we've been slow to renovate our house. Family commitments clipped our wings to some extent and, fairly early on in our ownership of Le Roz... (Ker Leroy as the house was known - in Le Roz the hamlet ) we took an opportunity which presented itself to get involved in a business start-up introducing folk to Brittany property which we run from the UK and which, because we always need to be on our toes, we also update things on the sites whenever we are there, also taking opportunities to meet agents and enjoying a low key...very nice time... It has to be said it's an ideal form of semi-retirement.

Occasionally people have eyed, with mistrust, the role we play in making introductions to property in France.... Our position is one I see as an altruistic one. Place before some punters a bargain and they regard you with the scorn they normally reserve for car dealers or double glazing salesmen. Our motives in starting our business at was not money (heaven knows we could have worked out a dozen other ways of doing that more quickly and in greater amounts) and our passion for Brittany is verging on sycophancy. But we wanted to provide a parting in the long grass; a straightening out of what we found was a quite confusing system to those familiar with buying property in the UK. The system in France was not at all well defined back then- at least not for those coming to it from outside. In our own search in 1999 we identified 3 routes to goal and tried them all over the space of 3 trips.

Firstly via Notaire's - those well respected employees of the state,  entrusted with the transfer of property from seller to buyer - dotting the 'I's and crossing the 'T's... Even if you find your house through any other means the Notaire is an essential link in the process... but they are obviously not the only means of finding the right property. The way I sum up a Notaire's role to the uninitiated UK buyer is to say that he/she is like a solicitor (but with knobs on) and even if you have a linguist's 'grip' don't have to run around after them trying to speed things along and/or agonise over when the process stalls or goes into free-fall because someone fails to get mortgage funds or a buyer dies mid-process. And... you only need one Notaire for each transaction - not one for each side of the deal as here in Blighty.

Secondly there are, of course, Estate Agents in France (Immobilieres) although back in 1999 they were (to my way of thinking) very low key. I'm not demeaning the profession by any means - especially as the rules and regulations governing involvement is much more stringent than in the UK. But national chains were by no means as well established and seemed to hang back in terms of projecting French property to the potential UK market. And, I may upset all those hard working Immos, Marketing (note I used a capital 'M') was not a huge skill on the French side. It's improved in leaps and bounds and now gaining real ground... Thanks, I'm sometimes thinking, to the cross-over of UK buyers in France who have become commercial agents and have seen the rise and demise of the early leaders in the business who offered French property to the UK market - principally with the massive assistance of the internet. Without this it would have been impossible.

Thirdly there are brokers, portal sites and forwarding agents (which is what we have become). And, in a sense this is the way in which we found our own house. When we hit the buffers with the two former methods.... we tried this latter method and, because it went so spectacularly wrong we ended up finding our house from the debris of the failed forwarding agents efforts. So, when an unwitting Chambres d'Hotes owner pointed us in the direction of a neighbour in the valley who had just come back from a property exhibition at Birmingham's NEC we accepted the offer of some late evening hospitality, drank some good wine enjoyed bread and cheese, met new friends and... the following morning... bought a house! Obviously it obviously wasn't that simple - there were plenty of twists and turns and all sorts of messing about - but that's why when a further opportunity presented itself to get involved in offering Brittany property to predominantly the UK market we took it and have been making the introductions now for 15 years.

First bucket of water from the rebuilt well! It's better than the mains!!

Monday, 6 February 2017

In a world of uncertainty a HALF PRICE HOUSE is always of interest... n'est pas?

Our House in Brittany • Summer 2016
It's 17 years now since we stumbled across our house in Brittany. In retrospect it was a gift, of course, at such a seemingly very silly price of just £12,000 plus Notaire's Fees and then a commission to the agent who introduced us to the property. Needless to say we were happy to pay a fee for him opening our eyes to what seemed like such a rare find.
Back in 2000 the system of buying in France was somewhat haphazard and, fortunately, things have formalised to make it as simple as buying in the UK (simpler in fact). Although, the reality that you may be buying in another country, where one might imagine difficulties; where you are unfamiliar with customs that full timers over there take for granted - but for you there may be a language barrier for a start - and unfamiliar procedures and systems etc., it's wise to rely on advice from those who have trodden the path before you and who can help to clear up any potential pitfalls.

Our 'agent', back when we bought, was a builder who had moved over from UK to the Cotes d'Armor. Probably more by good fortune than by a well formed plan - he had begun to buy and develop bargain priced houses - do them up - and sell them on. He realised that he was governed in this by the fact that he could only renovate one or two properties at any one time and so decided to build a portfolio of his favourites from the local market and to offer them to an intrigued UK market which he tapped atoverseas property shows in the UK. Then, we happened along right on his doorstep.

We had kicked the wheels on properties found on websites which were (by comparison to to the sophistication of today's world wide web) very fledgling and some extremely rudimentary. And we had already made two journeys across the channel - very much combining enjoying time finding out that Brittany is very much 'the land that time forgot'; empty roads, sleepy villages, great food and drink and properties that would make your head spin in terms of beauty as well as value for money. Our third trip over was via one of the early and, for a while, largest player in the French property market, where almost every buyer with them became an agent... By default, because of a lack of communication and co-ordination we discovered Hal through the B and B owner we stayed with on the night before we were about come back to UK 'empty handed'. Our host, Richard, when we told him that we had had no luck, suggested we should meet Hal, 'He's just come back from the NEC French Exhibition and he's got a book with about 50 properties in it... Half an hour later we were in the vast kitchen of Hal's mill (he'd bought it for £10,000 with 10 acres of woodland and pasture) and subsequently, when he had done the required amount of work and installed a heated pool etc., he would go on to let it for £1,500 per week during the summer months.... So, yes there is money to be made from letting well prepared gite properties to the widening market out there!

Our first viewing was in March 1999...
These tales of cross channel bargains beg the comment... "OK, but that was a long time ago"... and "Things are changing within Europe, so what does the future offer for those buying from outside Europe?" Which, of course, is what those within the UK will be in a couple of year's time.... outside Europe! And, of course, no one can truly predict the future. It's true our buying experience was a long time ago. I have to promote my own thoughts based on common sense and what's been gleaned from our experiences in dealing in French property.  True, prices have gone up with inflation over these intervening years. But there are still some extreme bargains.

The one below is currently available - a 4 bedroomed detached house on 1,276m2 of land in the Cotes d'Armor... 105,995€ + Notaire's Fees - Have a look by clicking the link below the photo...

A 4 Bedroomed Detached Longere on 1/3 of an acre for under £90,000 (exchange rate as at 8th Feb)
I'm sure most people reading this can plainly see that any rural property but near a thriving town, with four bedrooms and a large garden in southern England (pretty much anywhere in the UK) is going to be double/treble... plus plus plus this price- in spite of dodgy exchange rates... Food for thought eh?!

Prices are lowering because houses have stuck on the shelf due to erratic currency exchange rates and political scares and surprising developments Brexit, Trump, ... and the longer term concerns; what about healthcare provision overseas for ex-pats once we are outside Europe?... Seriously, does anyone expect, after all of the hard work of establishing reciprocal healthcare for our (what will be) previous European partners, that these common sense agreements will come to an end? Surely not! And, when it comes to being out of Europe, as a major purchaser of French/Spanish/Italian properties, then prices of already seemingly bargain properties... will fall still further in order to maintain an attraction for buyers from the UK. Right now there are houses for sale within Brittany and Normandy at what might very realistically be regarded as half price.... and lower than like for like in, say, Southern England and even lower than those further north or in Wales.

I suppose it's wise to say, fortunately, that things have changed a lot in the way that properties in France are marketed, although back in the day there was always a job satisfaction element of the 'pioneer' about taking the car ferry and travelling around checking out locations and calling in at Notaire's offices or estate agencies for details of local properties on their books. But these days the quest often starts with searching the web for what lights your lamp... But nothing lights your lamp like a bargain and there are some radical bargains just now... True there are some  political and economical elements that maybe dull the get up and go....but there's nothing like a half price house to sharpen the ambition!!

Chris and Micki Slade have run the property finder sites and since 2002 • 01903 202272

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

What's happening in the Brittany Property Market just now?
Well, things are surprisingly good... with some minor reservations... Here's why... It's a given - for the short term future that the Sterling to Euro rate has been yo-yoing which has worried some amongst would be buyers, but - taking comfort every time there is a glint of good news and, raising itself up on to one elbow just to drop down again when someone makes a negative statement about Brexit or Calais migrants or Syria or even (heaven help the yanks)... 'The Donald'... because maybe some politico has told a fib about how good things might be within his first 100 days... the market is fickle... very fickle. But, currently, as I'm giving this a read through... the Sterling rate against the Euro has continued a positive creep. Over decades this kind of thing forms a sometimes confusing waveform. It's all about picking your time and being bold! I'm not trying to dispirit those who have always had an ambition to buy overseas property prices on the fringes of the "let's buy a property abroad world"... Turkey, Greece, Tunisia... all very much cheaper than they have been for decades). Excuse the hint of sarcasm but it was ever thus and, with the world in a state of flux because of continuing referenda, warfare, worrying election possibilities and results - it's something we all begin to recognise as the 'norm'. For my money France, especially Brittany, is looking better than ever from a value for money point of view...

Brittany's just over there... (a relaxing 'cruise' on Brittany Ferries will get you to St Malo overnight... Dieppe is just 4 hours and Caen is 6 hours) the natives are friendly (my neighbour's dad has been eternally delighted to be liberated by my dad and and his comrades in 1944/5... and they seem even to admire that les Anglais have voted to leave Europe... I think many of them wish they had had the opportunity too... In fact I think they might... who knows what the French elections this coming May will present us with. And having visited France a good number of times (and Brittany several hundred) I can honestly say that a majority of Bretons do not regard themselves as true French but Bretons first and French second. And long ago there was a Celtic and Gallic infusion from Cornwall, Wales and Ireland which means we are all brethren!

But more seriously the prices, which have always looked ridiculously low by comparison to those in the UK, are falling further as vendors realise that they are not likely to get their ideal price whilst things are the way they are. And so they are reducing their asking prices when there have been fewer takers of the bait found on any of the many property websites that abound.

Take this one for example... admittedly still not in the 'small change from your pocket' league... But, with 12 bedrooms in total on 7 Hectare of mixed land, it is a head banging bargain for anyone fed up with life in the UK who wants to venture out into the Leisure, Equestrian, Holiday, BandB, Chambres d'Hotes market or to just pootle around whilst cutting wood for the log burner in winter - or mowing the 7 hectares - why not introduce the French to 'Pick Your Own'... 'Le Car Boot' or just rent out as Gites in the Spring and Summer. An 8 bedroomed Manor House plus a Four Bedroomed Farmhouse all on 7 Hectares of woodland, pasture, garden and parc... is one where there is a human story responsible for the perrennially falling asking price...

A musician who enjoyed life in Brittany between touring stints had bad news about his health and can no longer work or even comfortably travel to this idyllic hideaway... But you can. The property, which originally floated on the market at 650,000 Euros, is now available for just 300,000 Euros. Not just well worth the money but something of a giveaway...

To see the details as listed on our site...Click the link below 

By the way... If you view properties via us then use our discount code to cut the cost of your crossing! Just Quote:-  Club Voyage Membership Number F35595 and... Votre oncle de Bob! 

Book on line via, or telephone from the UK 0871 244 0744

Watch out... There's a Banker About!!

Buy a House in Brittany or Normandy - Definitely! But... Don’t do a Dave! Buying Abroad?  Got a minute? Read this... It could sa...