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Last night the French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, addressed the national assembly of deputés - that is the French equivalent of the House of Commons. He set out his plans for our first steps out of lock-down and asked for the deputés' approval - which he got. As I see it, these are the pertinent facts as far as the property market is concerned:
* Relaxation of the rules is not a given - we have to continue to lower the curve and keep "R" well below 1
* Relaxation of the rules will not be uniform across France, but will be applied on a departmental or regional basis.
* Departments will be coded "red" (less freedom of movement) or "green" (greater freedom of movement) according to how badly any department is affected by the infection at any time. This colour coding will be reviewed and made public on a daily basis. "Green" departments will be allowed greater freedom of movement because they have less infection.
* We will not be allowed to cross departmental boundaries unless for urgent family or business purposes.
* We will not be allowed to travel more than 100km from home.
* We cannot gather in groups of more than 10 - and there is a suggestion that we will be asked to keep our contacts to tightly defined "social bubbles" of less than10 although I don't think anyone is entirely sure what all of this means in practice yet.
*Masks will be obligatory on all public transport.
*Social distancing must continue to be observed.
*There will be comprehensive testing (they are talking about 700000 tests a day) and contact tracing/enforced isolation where necessary.
This has all clearly got to be thrashed out by the various authorities over the next fortnight and, as I noted earlier, does depend on the progress we continue to make in containing the spread of Covid 19.
Where does this leave someone who is wanting to buy or sell a house in France this year? Well, buyers can clearly continue to get as much information as they can about individual properties and the market as a whole remotely - by looking at websites, talking to the owner of the property on the phone and perhaps by viewing their property on line via a camera in the vendor's phone or tablet. As far as live viewings are concerned it looks as though we will be able to visit property for sale within our own department fairly soon - providing the department is "green", you or your vendors are in good health and not too elderly and providing you and they observe all of the required sanitary and social distancing requirements. This is my understanding of the situation and I may be too optimistic, of course, but I am already hearing of notaires provisionally arranging appointments to signing for the purchase of properties for after 11th May, for example.
Beyond individual departmental, or regional, boundaries, things get a bit more opaque with international borders likely to be closed for a little while yet, although officials are beginning to talk about how trains and aircraft can be made as safe as possible which implies that travel across greater distance is now being factored into their longer term plans.
Please note this is just my interpretation of what is likely to happen after May 11th and Mr Philippe's plans can easily be hijacked by better ideas or, on the minus side, a resurgence of the infection. Whatever the case, we will do our best to keep you informed and also to highlight the safety measures buyers and sellers should take in the coming months.
As always, you can continue to browse our properties on our website and we can put you in direct contact with the owner. You can therefore find out a great deal about a property that interests you without leaving home yourself - and if the vendor has a smart phone or an i-pad they can even give you a guided tour of the property and its exterior. In this way you can find out much more from the property owner than you can from an intermediary, such as an estate agent. This will put you ahead of the rest of the field when the lock-down is lifted and people can once again buy property in France.
This Sawday listed farmhouse plus gite is on the market at 560 000€. Ref 10826, near St Beauzile, Tarn
If any of the houses we are marketing are of interest to you and you have a question, then just ask. You can easily contact the owner, using the form on the property's details page on our website, or you can e-mail us and we will pass your question and your contact details directly to the owner. They will then reply to you personally, cutting out a middle-man and avoiding estate agency commission.
We only market property which is for sale by vendors directly. Because of this there is no estate agency commission to pay us by either buyer or seller following an introduction by us.
I hope we can help you buy or sell your French property in the near future, but more importantly I hope that you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy during this horrible pandemic.
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We are coming to the end of week six of "Le Confinement" in France and the government is focused on how to release the strictures we are currently subject to. It seems highly likely that some sort of schooling will re-start on or around May 11th, with the possibility of reduced class sizes and selective groups returning to the class room. We are also likely to have to wear masks on public transport and remain restricted as to where we can go. Hotels and cafes are likely to remain off limits until mid July. This all takes place against a backdrop of potential insurrection in the poorer suburbs of big cities, while rural France and country towns are slowly moving towards a much less eventful, but very welcome, progression to "the new normal".
Goodbye to "le bise" and all that
One victim of the fall out is likely to be the habit of kissing one another as a form of greeting. Where I live, people gave very short shrift to the elbow nudge and foot bump as replacement greeting and two (or three or four - depending on local habits) kisses on the cheek or a hand shake did remain common currency until lockdown started. However, as we come out of it it appears very unlikely that le bise will be widely re-adoped. a demise which will be encouraged by the need to go around wearing a face mask in many pubic places. It would make the habit a little too inelegant. I had not realised that until the 1960s the habit of a peck on each cheek as a general greeting to anyone you knew reasonably well was unusual. Before that it tended to be confined to family members and that, I suspect, is what we will return to.
This will probably be a welcome revolution in the world of work. When I used to manage the branch of an estate agency in south west France starting work in the morning was a serious business. The arrival of every new member of the team meant that everyone in the office had to stop what they were doing, get up from their desk and give the new arrival the obligatory peck on both cheeks. I could visualise our British employer sitting upstairs and drumming his fingers on his desk in irritation!
On the plus side - we may lose le bise, but the idea of shopping locally and putting a break on the proliferation of out of town supermarkets (les grandes surfaces) is starting to take hold - especially amongst the Gilet Jaune community. This would help save the many little epiceries, boulangeries and boutiques which add so much individuality to this wonderful country.
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By Daniel Wright, Sales Director of Foreign Currency Direct
Boris’ Conservative Party wins a comfortable majority, and the pound receives a boost as the currency markets are reassured by new Brexit certainty.
The pound has gained against its major counterparts on the interbank market this week, including hitting a 39-month high versus the euro, a 19-month high against the US dollar, and a near 42-month high versus the Australian dollar.
In part, this is because Prime Minister (PM) Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has won a clear majority at the UK’s general election. As a result, it’s thought that PM Johnson will ratify the UK’s Brexit deal in the coming weeks, perhaps before Christmas, and get on with negotiating the UK’s future trade deal with the EU.
This has strengthened the pound, because the financial markets generally wish for Brexit to be finalised, with an agreement.
CONSERVATIVES WIN, CORBYN TO STEP DOWN, SWINSON LOSES SEAT
The Conservative Party has won 364 seats, a gain of 66 from the 2017 election, while the opposition Labour has lost 42 seats, to 203. There is one constituency yet to declare.
Acknowledging his win, PM Johnson said this morning that: “This one-nation Conservative government has been given a powerful new mandate to get Brexit done.”
Notably, PM Johnson’s majority is large enough that he can govern without depending on small groups of MPs, like the European Research Group or Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.
It’s thought that this will contribute to a stable UK government next year, thereby benefiting the pound. Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that he’ll resign, while Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has lost her East Dunbartonshire constituency.
“NO DEAL” BREXIT TO BE AVOIDED, UK FACES TIGHT TRADE DEAL SCHEDULE
Turning to the future, sterling has risen, partly because it now looks virtually certain that the UK will avoid a “No Deal” Brexit. After all, prior to the election campaign, all of PM Johnson’s Conservative candidates promised to back the deal he’s negotiated with Brussels.
However, in 2020, sterling could be influenced, because the UK has just a year to negotiate its future trade deal with the EU. Traditionally, such trade deals take around six or seven years to sign.
This raises the prospect of the UK repeatedly extending its deadline, as we’ve seen with Brexit, or defaulting to trading with the EU on World Trade Organisation (WTO) terms. These developments may affect the pound in the foreseeable future.
UK ECONOMY CONTRACTS IN OCTOBER, NEXT WEEK PACKED
Turning to the UK economy, it’s been a downbeat week. The economy contracted by 0.1% in October, below forecasts for a 0.1% rise, while UK industrial production declined by 1.3% in October year-on-year. These bode ill for UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in Q4 2019, from October to December.
Meanwhile, next week will be packed, with the UK’s “flash” services sector data for this month, unemployment statistics for October, inflation for November, and the Bank of England’s interest rate decision. All these releases may affect sterling, alongside PM Johnson’s new government’s Brexit developments.
If you would like to know more about moving money across currencies as cost effectively as possible then please have a look at how Foreign Currency Direct can help you:
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…..or the importance of showing your house to potential buyers in the best way.
Last week I visited some vendors who are selling a house in a particularly attractive village in Lot et Garonne. I was there to discuss their marketing and as part of this we talked about the route THROUGH the house and the route TO the house estate agents had used when showing it to buyers. The owners thought the estate agents were doing it wrong and I agreed with them.
The house has two front doors – one opens into a courtyard garden which you then walk through to gain access to the house, the other front door opens directly onto a street at the other side of the house. At first glance you would assume that the best way to show the house is to use the door into the garden rather than walk straight in off the street – and this is what all of the estate agents had been doing.
The approach to a house is vital in setting the scene and if you enter the house via the garden front door you have to walk down a road on the edge of the beautiful old part of the village and you pass garages and recently build houses – all fine, but not what the village is known for.
If you enter the house via the street front door you walk through the beautiful central part of the village. A buyer would park their car in the village square bounded by a boulangerie, café and butcher (all very good) and a 12th century church renowned for its frescos. You then walk perhaps 200metres down a quiet road lined with very attractive old houses and the ancient covered market-place to reach your destination. This links the property psychologically with the old and beautiful part of the village rather than the more functional and more recent section at other side of the house. You can even see the boulangerie if you turn round and look back down the road once you reach the front door, which is great for selling the idea of a short walk to get your daily croissant.
You then conduct your viewing of the house. People usually leave a property by the door they initially came in through. This means that if you came in by the garden front door you exit that way using the garden (which is a small but very attractive paved courtyard) as a passage to and from the house, failing to capitalise on its own value. On the other hand, if you entered the house via the street front door you finish your viewing in the courtyard garden. If it is a warm day this is the ideal moment to sit down in the courtyard with your buyers. They then have the opportunity to imagine living in a house where you are only 2 minutes from the heart of a very pretty village yet you also have a private and well-designed courtyard garden to relax in.
As they leave the house again (via the street front door) you can point out the handy boulangerie which they can see at the end of the attractive road.
Carefully planning how you present your house is essential but it is amazing how few people – even estate agents as in this case – don’t think it through sufficiently. It can make all the difference between sale and no sale and helps a buyer because they are able to imagine the house as they would want to use it.
Incidentally – the house in question is definitely worth a look if you want a village house which is ready to move in to. It is in the really lovely riverside village of Allemans du Dropt. This is not far from Eymet and is convenient for Bergerac airport. You can read more about this well presented and well priced property here:
Here is a photographs of the River Dropt as it passes under the iconic bridge leading into the village:
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Save money and get your house onto the market ahead of the crowd.....
Our December promotion is now up and running - if you would like to advertise with us and you pay for one of our six month adverts in full between now and December 30th we will give you one extra month's advertising free.
Just open our "Advertise Your Property" page in the usual way, complete the property information form at the bottom of the page and send it to us. We will contact you to arrange payment - and give you that extra month's advertising - so if your advert starts to appear on December 15th then it would remain live until July 14th ensuring that your property is well publicised from the beginning of the year until, in this example, Bastille Day.
The offer applies to Gold, Silver and Bronze advertising packages which are paid for in full before December 30th.