Buying French property : old authentic homes versus new houses

Jos Deuling,  Sunday, 7 April 2013

French countryside 

Buy a new house in France or opt for an old and authentic home?

If you look at the French housing market, you see that the French almost always opt for a new construction. Or they buy a fully renovated home with all modern conveniences. Worn-out farms and renovation objects are left over to foreigners.

Although there are plenty of examples of beautifully restored authentic houses, the French are hardly interested in their 'cultural heritage'. In general, you can say that the French and foreigners buy in a different market segment. A foreigner is looking for an authentic home in a special location, a Frenchman is more interested in elegance and convenience. In France, there is just a great demand for new homes. This is also reflected in housing prices. A new home is on average 40% more expensive than an old house. You must realize that an investment in a renovation object is difficult to recoup. Unless you can sell your property to another foreigner.

All advantages at a glance:

Benefits of an old house:

  1. The house has a traditional style and charm.
  2. Probably there's a lot of land near the house.
  3. A spacious garden.
  4. The view from the house is probably better.
  5. Authentic details are preserved. For example, old doors or a beautiful old fireplace.
  6. Easier to rent to vacationers.

Benefits of an new house

  1. There is a garage and ample parking.
  2. Modern kitchen.
  3. Electricity and water are new and do not need to be replaced.
  4. 10 years warranty from the construction.
  5. You can build the house to your own preferences.
  6. Efficient heating and well insulated.
  7. Common facilities available. Eg. sports facilities.
  8. Cheaper to maintain.
  9. Better security.

Changing trend

Although foreigners traditionally like an authentic house somewhere in the countryside, this trend is changing in recent years. Especially buying a home in a new development is popular. For people who want to invest their money in real estate or for those who just want to use their overseas home to enjoy a few weeks to go on vacation, a new construction in a development offers many advantages: lower maintenance, security services if you're not there and there are usually additional facilities. And for pensioners such a house is much easier to live in than a renovation object. Not everyone loves DIY or gardening.

An important question for foreign buyers: Do I want to rent out my home?

If you want to make a living in France with a Chambres d'Hotes, you are required to obtain a beautiful authentic house somewhere in the countryside. To earn an income from the rental of gîtes often means that you have to get 'something old' and 'something big' in the countryside. You have more leeway if you just want to have a holiday home somewhere in France for a few weeks a year to go on vacation. All income from the rental is then a bonus. You can rent out your picturesque cottage in the countryside through a rental organization. But you can also buy a new apartment or a standard bungalow, somewhere at sea or in a ski resort. To rent out such a property is usually not a problem.


House in French village
All types of French property for sale by private sellers and estate agents. Find your perfect villa, gîte, B&B, apartment or fermette in all regions of France including Languedoc, Dorgdogne, Provence 
Essential reading when purchasing a home in France

A village in Alsace, France There is a lot of information on the internet about house prices in France. I have listed the most relevant websites. The French Central Bureau of Statistics and the French association of notaries publish useful overviews. I regularly check the links to show the most current data on this page. 
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