Britons are dreaming of an escape to the chateau… or a gîte, finca or palazzo — somewhere in the sun and anywhere but the UK.

During lockdown, estate agencies and websites advertising homes abroad have reported a huge increase in traffic while we were stuck at home unable to travel. Visits to Rightmove Overseas were a third higher this May than during the same month last year….

This is the beginning of a very positive article featured in today’s Sunday Times focussing on that big question “Can I buy and travel to a holiday home in Europe”

The article focuses on property in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece, with a special mention for properties in the Alps also. This is a well researched piece with input from a wide range of property experts including Home Hunts.

Beautiful 19th Century, former wine-growing property close to Cotignac, Provence – 1,695,000 Euros

Buying a property in France

The Sunday Times contacted Home Hunts this week for our input on the article. We explained that the lockdown in France began to be lifted on May 11th and the domestic market has picked up very well over this past month. European borders are due to open next week and we are predicting a really busy summer for the French property market.

The Sunday Times article reads:  Life in France is returning to normal, with bars and restaurants as well as sights and attractions now reopening — and plenty of us want to join in. “We have a lot of clients who are waiting to travel as soon as they can, although some are nervous about the quarantine when they return to the UK,” says Tim Swannie, director of Home Hunts, a buying agency. “Provence and the Riviera, countryside within an hour of Paris, Annecy and the towns around Lake Geneva have all proved popular.”

This is an informative article covering many countries, so they couldn’t print the whole conversation but, whilst speaking to them, Tim discussed the impact of the pandemic on the French property market from Home Hunts perspective, he told them:

“We received fewer enquiries during lockdown, but under the circumstances it really hasn’t been too bad. Enquiries were down about 12-15% on the same time last year, obviously we couldn’t show any houses so sales have been slow, although we did agree a few, some with clients who viewed before the lockdown and a couple on the strength of virtual visits. We have a team of more than 30 property consultants looking after the French market and we have been speaking to lots of clients during this period, some have put their searches on hold but we have found many have become more determined to buy”

He also told the paper “The enquiries from overseas since mid-May have gone through the roof, it feels like it’s going to be a really busy summer. Lots of German enquiries, Scandinavians and Dutch, but a real increase in the number of Brits, way more than the same time in 2019. At this stage, it looks like there are some really serious buyers out there, we will know more once they can visit of course, but it certainly seems that way”

Beautifully designed, contemporary villa on the French side of Lake Geneva – 1,890,000 Euros

If you have an interest in Property in France or any of the other countries mentioned, you can read the article in full here. It goes on to discuss the other countries and also give information about the travel situation and the general feeling of the market ‘post coronavirus’.

Here is a further extract from the article:

Estate agents say that interest is driven by a combination of the prospect of future lockdowns, Brexit and now irritation at the British government’s handling of Covid-19. A recent survey of almost 5,000 British holiday-home hunters by Property Guides found that one in five wants to buy as soon as lockdown is lifted, with more than half keen to relocate to Spain or France; although one in eight said they wanted to move before the Brexit transition period ends on December 31.

UK citizens who buy a second home in Europe before the transition period ends will have the same rights and benefits as the 1.3 million or so British people already living in the European Union. Meanwhile, Brits living abroad will have until June 30, 2021, to apply for residency. Even if the UK leaves the union without a deal, British citizens resident in the EU before January 1, 2021, will be able to continue to live, work and travel there.

Brits may be lining up to view homes as soon as Covid-19 restrictions lift, but travel and border restrictions still pose the biggest hurdle. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel and Britons returning to the UK, except from Ireland, are required to quarantine for 14 days, meaning even the most fleeting househunting jaunt could require three weeks’ annual leave, unless working from home.

So called “air bridges” are proposed to allow quarantine-free travel between popular tourist destinations and it is understood that Downing Street has instructed Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, to have these in place by the end of the month. France, Italy and Greece are among the most likely to be included in the initial phase

Charming and elegant 17th century property in the hills of Cannes with stunning sea views – 2,800,000 Euros

If you are interested in exploring the idea of owning a French property, we are here to help with any questions you may have about the French property market, about any specific properties or just about life in France generally. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at any time, details below.

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