Solution for the English Property market

I saw this post today

Let’s send our parents off to France

In his column, Boris Johnson has needled the real problem in this country – the reason why we’re never going to be able to go back to really cheap houses. Quite simply, there are too many of us. As Boris puts it, 10 million people are due to “crash land” into the country like a fleet of gliders on D-Day, and they all need somewhere to live. Well I would like to propose a solution. On one day in 1944 we managed to send 175,000 young men into France. Given twenty years, would it be so difficult to send 10 million?

Let me elaborate. As a nation we have clearly decided that we don’t want many more houses. Hating suburban sprawl goes back as far as suburbia – the ugliness of new houses was something even George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh could agree on – but only now are we in the enviable position where we can probably avoid making it worse. How so? Well thankfully, a large chunk of the population doesn’t have to go to work, and so probably doesn’t need to be here at all. Not the unemployed I mean – but retired people. Conveniently, there are almost exactly 10 million of them, and that number is only going to grow. Wouldn’t they like to relocate en masse to somewhere a little cheaper?

Obviously the Dordogne is traditional, but retirees have a whole world of options. America has got a lot cheaper recently. So has Spain. Even tiny Ireland has 300,000 empty houses, all desperately in need of people to live in them. If a few hundred thousand British OAPs were willing to move to Ireland, not only would we relieve a bit of the pressure back here, we’d help a small country get through a drastic economic crisis.

You may ask how we’d pay for it, but it’s simple. Young people can cough up – we’re happy to, providing we can move into the newly empty houses. By the latest measure, the average first time buyer is 37. I’m 22, so apparently I have a good fifteen years left before I’m likely to be able to buy somewhere. Since I’m working in journalism, and living in London, even that number is probably hopeful. Rather than make us wait decades to buy ugly Barratt boxes, old people should just sell us theirs.

So how do we bring about this great migration? Obviously we can’t actually force pensioners onto planes, but surely we could give them an incentive to go? I’ve not worked out the best way yet, but exclusively from the evidence of my parents and their friends, I’d start with a hefty tax on golf courses.

First posted by Francophile

Property Sales in France and Fractional Ownership

In May this year I was planning to start offering property for sale through a very reputable agency in the South of France – Coast and Country – who I have worked with before and find completely reliable and honest.

If you have followed some of my blogs in the past, you may know that I have a very low opinion of most estate-agents on France and especially some of the rogues and rascals I have found in Pezenas. Unfortunately the few honest and reliable agents are going out of business in this area, leaving mostly the rascals,  so if I am to help people find homes I must start listing properties and selecting them myself.

I have been waiting for the agency to get a new website operating for me – I have been waiting  five months now, so it is time to give up on that plan and make my own sites for them again. I have started on this at SouthernFrance , a site I planned to use as my newsletter and blog archives, but this will be put to better use for property.

I have also restarted another website which was once the definitive site for Fractional Ownership of property in France at HarmonyOwnership – there is a lot of work to do on both sites, but I have a list of properties to add and will be getting out from next week to get the listings on.

A lot of guests staying with us at Villa Roquette are looking at property buy – I help a lot with the planning and save a lot of time by advising on services in villages, transport, accommodation and the value of the properties they are looking at – several guests have purchased property in Languedoc this year and have become friends – in other cases I have been able to show the problems and point out the lies told to them about the resources.

In one happy instance I  could show, through the plans and deeds, that they in fact owned property next to their home they did not realize they had purchased.

This is all part of the service for our guests – so if you are thinking of buying property in Languedoc, particularly in the Herault stay with us and perhaps I can help you realise your dreams.

A house near the coast hidden from sight

Secret House not listed and Impossible to Find

Is a Gite Business in France a Good Idea

I am happy to give my thoughts and share my experience on almost anything – I am qualified to teach photography, so just about everything else is based on half a century of the slings and arrows of (often outrageous) fortune. For the last 20 years we have been involved in vacations and rentals in France, so I can give some opinion and share experience about this.


Hi Tony,

We are looking at buying a gite complex in Charente Maritime. We have the turnover data and the outgoings etc,. but have no clue about what tax is payable – there’s no point us knowing what the gross income is when we don’t know what we’ll end up with (ie, if tax is 20% we’ll live a lot better than if it’s 50%!). Can you give us a steer, and also point us in the right direction – perhaps to an accountant who knows about gites? We’re happy to pay for the right advice as clearly it could make or break a deal.

Many thanks in anticipation,



Hello Louise,

I wish you success with your proposed venture. You are right to do very severe due diligence on any vacation business, especially in France.

My opinion of accountants is very very low – I have been deceived and tricked by these rascals too often and have absolutely no confidence in their opinion on anything to do with business or enterprise – their opinion is worthless regarding the viability of a business (or much else).

Tourism in France is a big business (I believe officially, the biggest business), but there is not much potential for growth. France claims in excess of 70 million visitors a year, by far the largest number in the world, but this has not grown in recent years and revenue figures suggest a shrinkage – accurate figures are not yet in for 2010, but are likely to show a 20 percent drop from 2009, which was down from 2008 – so any figures for any tourist business are largely irrelevant.

However 70 million or so potential customers offer a fantastic opportunity – the trick is to identify how you can beat the competition in your area for your market profile.

The problem getting any realistic projections for a business is compounded by the huge amount of competition and growth in the supply of accommodation over the last ten years. in many areas this is unsupportable by the demand and growth in demand is very uncertain as I have indicated.

You question is about taxes – for a small Ma and Pa operation, up to 15 people or 5 rooms – there are good options – it can be a fixed 13 percent of gross income if it is under 70,000 euro (this depends on other factors in the AutoEntrepeneur scheme). However, for a viable business you need the structure of company, usually a SARL, here you need good accounting software and need to keep firm control of all costs and expenses – I cannot go into all the options and paperwork here – there are many websites and people able to advise and help – but direct taxation, social charges etc will account for between 50 to 60 percent of your gross revenue (the social charges are very high) – if you have to employ anybody then this is likely to completely wipe out any chance of a profit.

If the business already employs people, they are unsackable and expensive – I know of companies ruined by a payroll of only three people. Short term contracts can only be renewed once and after a year they become permanent staff – be very very careful.

But if this is less than five Gites and under 15 people maximum, with no employees, turning over less than 70,000 euro then think of it as a lifestyle business – you will work hard for very little residual income, but it is a good life while you are fit and well and can fix drains, plumbing, power cuts and can keep accountants off your land.

Please let me know how you get on

Bonne Chance


Entrance from front parking at Villa Roquette in the South of France

Front Entrance from parking area to our Gite and B&B at Villa Roquette