The ramblings of two guys who have finally made the move to one of the most stunning and friendly areas of France; every day experiences, light hearted observations of French life, as well as useful information on the goings on in the property market in Brittany! To find out more about what we do please visit www.brittanygems.com
Well the good news for French property buyers is that the Euro is at a
three year low against the UK Pound and the US Dollar. With exchange rates of 1.245 Euros to the
Pound and 0.775 Euros to the Dollar, buyers are in a position to get a lot more
for their money.
With a £200,000 budget a UK buyer has an increased spending power of
approximately €23,000 compared to the same time last year and with a
$200,000 budget the same US buyer will have an additional €17,000
Euros to play with. Those sorts of figures
are certainly enough to cover agents and Notaires fees and if you have found
your perfect property through a professional property finder who has scoured
the private sales market and negotiated the ‘best local price’ on your behalf
(private property sales rarely hit the internet, attract no agents fees and are
still the most common form of property transaction in France) will certainly
get you more property - maybe an extra bedroom or that elusive pool?
So if you are ready to buy – what sort of property will you look for? Well if you are a little lost in the French
property vocabulary (and it can be confusing) here is a brief glossary of terms
widely used to describe house styles commonly found in Brittany ………..
Maison de maitre – A Master’s house :
A luxury, spacious country house or townhouse often colonial
properties, castles, luxury villas or large farmhouses, set in strategic and
imposing locations. They often come with lots of land and several outbuildings. Inside the house, the architecture often
comprises high ceilings, ornate fireplaces, mouldings, wooden floors and panelling,
as well as an imposing central staircase, which gives the maison de maître its
singular presence and style. Outside, the walls are generally made of cut
stone, with a garret overhead, and a bonnet roof or a roof having a single
slope on each side of a central ridge. Windows are generally large and
Maison bourgeoise - Middle-class
Set in cities, towns or small villages these houses would have been the
homes of wealthy shopkeepers, artisans, local dignitaries, or even small
private hotels. The architecture is usually simple and functional and they are
built with natural, locally sourced materials.
The final decoration of the house would reflect the status and fortune
of the owner and would comprise two or three floors and attic space. Maison bourgeoise would generally come with
small gardens and one or two outbuildings.
Maison d’architecte - Architect’s
This term is used to describe a house which has been “custom-built”, in
comparison with houses which are already designed off-plan and converted
according to the purchaser’s tastes. Therefore, there are no limits for size
and eccentricity. The plans are drawn for one unique house - certainly the
choice for individualists.
Neo – Breton – Unique to
Stone built houses which reflect the local Brittany style. First floor
rooms are generally built into the roof space with ‘dormer’ style windows. These houses often stand in fairly large gardens
and are characterised by decorative turrets, chimneys dark slate tile rooves
and symmetrical design. Larger
Neo-Breton style homes are often reminiscent of ‘fairy tale’ properties.
Maison a Colombages - Half-timbered
A maison a colombages comprises 2 main features: a wooden structure,
and a “hourdage”, forming the walls, used to fill and tighten them. The
hourdage is made of bricks or light materials such as cob or plaster. This type
of house is easily recognizable thanks to the typical exposed beams and is
often the choice of purchasers who are looking for a house that has lots of
history and charm.
Longere - Long house:
The longere is a typical country farmhouse in which all the rooms are
set in a row on a single level.
Generally the house would have rooms built at each end to house
livestock and store grain etc. The longere
is usually built from local materials with its back to the wind and windows
only at the front. This style of house
is popular with buyers looking for a renovation project.
Pavilion - Detached house.
A pavilion is generally a single storey detached house set in its own
garden. In many cases these houses are
grouped together with others of similar design and typical of lower cost
housing commonly built in France in the mid to late 20th Century.
Gite – Guesthouse:
A Gite is a furnished quality holiday home with typical regional
characteristics, which is rented (studio, apartment, house or part of a house)
to customers passing through. If
attached to a main residence these properties are popular with overseas buyers
as the ‘Gite’ offers income generation potential.
As we said it can be confusing and of course being France many
properties don’t fit into a specific category at all.
If you are looking to buy, what is important is that you make sure you
have seen everything on offer and not to restrict yourself only to properties
available on agents’ websites. Your
perfect property might be for sale privately (as so many of them are …..) and you might never know! Using someone professional on the ground
(working solely for you) to root out that hidden gem may be well worth while…….
someone who understands local markets, negotiates the best ‘local’ price on your
behalf and can make the most of that added buying power created by the weak