Beynac, Dordogne River, France

Some interesting information and comments on the Dordogne Property market from Kirsten Pollard, Home Hunts manager for South West France:

 The Dordogne in South West France, remains one of the most popular area of France (along with Alpes-Maritimes) for overseas buyers to invest in.  It has proven to be a safe and stable area to invest in throughout the recession, with demand remaining consistent and the quality of the properties and environment ensuring that the prices remain stable also. It is also a safe area to live in too – the department has the second lowest crime rate in France, so there are no worries about leaving second homes empty etc.  Brits, as well as an ever increasing range of nationalities are discovering it, falling in love, and telling their friends to come here too, amongst them Americans, Australians, South Africans, Scandinavians and Italians.

The Dordogne has traditionally been popular with retirees, but the trend for younger people, including those with families, who want to have an active life here, and start their own businesses in a new sector or work remotely from their Dordogne home, has become apparent in the last 5-10 years.

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The area is easily accessible from the UK with Bergerac airport providing increasing flight services to UK destinations throughout the year.  The recently opened Brive Dordogne Valley Airport in 2010 provides direct flights to City Airport, as well as Bordeaux with international flights to increasing destinations and Limoges.

Being that the Dordogne is an ever popular region for holidays, there are plenty of opportunities for the semi-retired and retired to do a B&B or gîte business to keep them busy, have an income and meet lots of interesting people from all over the world. The current demand for these kinds of income-producing properties is high, particularly for those seeking to offer luxury accommodation. Several of Home Hunt’s recent sales in the Dordogne have been to overseas buyers who have invested in a second home here, and rent it out as a holiday home when they aren’t using it themselves.  This largely covers the running costs and rather provides a non-negligible supplementary income whilst keeping the property well maintained.

What the Dordogne has to offer the overseas buyer hasn’t changed over time – well constructed and very attractively built traditional properties constructed from the beautiful honey coloured native sandstone that are often full of interesting features such as original stone fireplaces, stairs and sinks, in an environment that has been architecturally preserved too. There are hundreds of pretty villages in the Dordogne, such as the stunning Beynac, Roque Gageac, Saint Cyprien, Limeuil, as well as medieval towns including Sarlat, capital of the Perigord Noir, bastide towns such as Monpazier and Domme, and the larger towns of Bergerac and Perigueux.

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Overseas buyers are typically looking for the old stone properties with lots of character and original features and a traditional French feel, and there is an increasing demand for those properties which have been sensitively renovated to preserve their features and character but add the modern comforts such as new technology central heating, modern kitchens and bathrooms that give the perfect balance.

The landscape, particularly in the Dordogne valley and the Perigord Noir area, is stunning with lush green rolling hills, the winding Dordogne River, rocky cliff backdrops, and a chateau round practically every corner! There is also a lively expat community so people moving from abroad can make friends easily and find activities to take part in while they brush up on their French. Most of the expats, contrary to popular belief, mix readily with the locals too, and there are lots of events, that encourage this, such as the weekly village markets, antique fairs, night markets and concerts. There are also lots of interesting places to visit and activities to do for all ages if you have guests to stay – chateaux, caves and gardens to visit, canoeing down the Dordogne and hot air ballooning etc.

The area also still represents good value for money for overseas buyers, considering the quality, character and history of the buildings, the space you get, and the quality of the environment and the life here – fresh air, good fresh produce and wines, laid back rhythm of life, and warm southern France climate.