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Tips to plan a successful viewing trip

planning property viewings

Good preparation can make the difference between a great trip and a disappointing one, here we give a few tips on how to make the most of it.

searching for the perfect chaletPlanning a trip to the Alps to view properties is one of the most exciting stages of the purchasing process. You may have spent hours looking for your dream house or renovation project online and have several handpicked properties that fit your criteria. Of course seeing the property ‘in the flesh’ is hugely important as it’s extremely difficult to get across the real feel of a property & location through pictures and a written description alone. It would be wonderful to be able to nip across the channel as many times as you like for viewings but, for most of us, this just isn’t financially or practically feasible. So, to make the most of your trip, careful planning and preparation is essential.

Knowing what you want is a good place to start before viewing properties. Are you looking for an apartment or chalet, centrally located or out in the countryside? How many bedrooms & bathrooms do you want, does it need to have a garden etc. Also, having a clear idea of your budget is advisable, and don’t forget to factor in taxes and fees associated with buying property in France.

Use a property agent

Finding a good property agent can be the difference between long, fruitless searches and a fountain of possibilities ending with the satisfaction and relief of finding your new alpine chalet or apartment. The local knowledge of property agents is invaluable, they might be able to suggest properties which perfectly fit your criteria in a different area or neighbouring village that you may not have considered otherwise. They may also know of properties on the market that aren’t on their website and so speaking with an agent about what you’re looking for can be extremely beneficial to your search.

You may be tempted to use multiple agents on your trip to get a better variety of potential properties. However it’s quite common for developers or local estate agents to work with several property agents and this approach may result in repeat visits. Finding a good agent who really cares about helping you find the ideal property for you, with a wide range of properties to offer and excellent local knowledge can make the process much easier and less stressful compared with dealing with several different companies.

If you know of a particular development or complex that you’re keen to purchase in you could of course arrange a viewing trip with a developer. Often these trips come with accommodation and so can be easier to arrange although the range of properties will be limited.

Just before you set off on your trip make sure you check whether the properties you’re planning on viewing are still on the market. If they’re not your property agent will be able to advise on alternatives.

Finance

If all goes to plan this trip could result in the signing of a purchase agreement. It would be disappointing to delay this part only to find someone, perhaps a little better prepared, pulls your dream chalet from under your nose and makes the purchase before you can get the deposit down. Therefore it’s advisable to open a currency exchange account before you leave. Aside from having the money ready for a deposit this benefits buyers for two reasons. Firstly it opens access to currency exchange specialists who can give advise on this extremely capricious area. Secondly currency specialists can often exchange money at much better rates compared with banks and can result in saving thousands of pounds, so it’s definitely worth looking in to.
If buying a mortgage to finance the property we would advise that you speak to a mortgage specialist before you head out on your viewing trip as this could benefit you for a number of reasons. Firstly it can help clarify how much you can borrow and avoid a wasted trip looking at properties in the wrong budget range. Clearing the first hurdle in the mortgage application process and getting financial pre-approval will also make you a stronger buyer in the eyes of the selling agent and vendor.
Even if you’re not considering buying a mortgage it can have financial advantages such as reducing wealth tax. Also, if you’re planning on buying to rent the interest on the mortgage can be deducted from your income tax payments. You can find out more information on mortgages by getting in touch with a BNP Paribas international mortgage specialist.

Once you’re there

alpine resort on a sunny dayYou may think that you’re going to be able to remember everything you see about each property but after looking around 4 or 5 it could start to get tricky. So bring a notepad and pen to jot down your thoughts and take pictures too (make sure you ask permission first). You could even video each viewing so you could literally re-view the property afterwards. If you’re planning on furnishing the chalet or apartment yourself a tape measure could also come in handy.
Taking a day off between viewing days can be useful to mull over what you’ve seen so far and give you a chance to explore the surrounding area. Try to visit the property at different times of the day as well, it may be in a quiet area during the day but could become a hive of activity at night which could make or break your decision on that property.
It helps to be honest with your agent about what you think of each property. If you don’t like it, just be honest and explain why, this will help save time and give your agent a better understanding of what you’re looking for.
It’s worth noting that your agent may ask you to sign a bon de visite as you view each property. This doesn’t bind you to anything, it’s just a record to say you have viewed this property with this particular agent and that you haven’t viewed it before.

As can be the case with even the best planned ventures your trip to the Alps may not be as successful as you’d have hoped. You may need to rethink your criteria, budget, property location or just give it a little more time.
France Property Angels have agents across the French Alps who can help you find your perfect apartment, chalet or house. If you would like advice about buying property or would like to arrange a viewing trip please contact us.

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