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Les Isambres, Theoule sur Mer, Le Trayas, Sainte Maxime, Grimaud. Plan de la Tour, Saint Tropez
10 Tips for Buying a Luxury Villa
on the Côte d’Azur
Villas Cote d’Azur gives you tips on buying a luxury property in Côte d’Azur.
1. Know what you want
Deluxe villa on the French Riviera, Cote d’Azur
The more details you are able to provide, the more you will be able to hone down to exactly what it is you are looking for. Consider what are the absolute, non-negotiable necessities versus the ‘nice to haves’. Find below a selection of criteria that will facilitate finding the right luxury villa in Côte d’Azur:
Location – see below (no. 6)
Size – how big should the property be? We are metric in the South of France and so sqm is the measurement. All measurements will represent the living surface of the property, which excludes basements, terraces, garages etc…
Land – how much land do you want with the property? In general, it is felt that the larger the plot of land, the more privacy, which should always be a consideration. There are, of course, many other ways of achieving privacy. If you are planning on buying a holiday home, remember that the larger your plot of land, the more ongoing maintenance will be required.
Style – There are many styles in this region and you need to know what your preferences are. Examples of style might be contemporary, provençal, bastide/mas, belle époque, Napoléon III, mansion, château and so on.
View – we are spoilt with views in this region. The most frequently demanded view is of the sea to the south and the Estérel mountains to the west, behind which the sun will set. This combination is truly magical. There are many other spectacular views such as the Southern Alps and the Gorges du Verdon. It will partly depend on your preferred location and, of course, your budget. Sea views come at a premium.
Exposure – see Sun exposure/view below (no. 7)
Condition – are you willing to carry out structural works on the property to bring it up to date or would your preference be to have something ready to move in to tomorrow where you can add a few aesthetic touches?
Reason for buying – are you buying primarily as an investment or as a holiday home that you plan to hold onto for the foreseeable future? If your primary motivation is the former, detailed research and benchmarking will ensure that your investment generates the most favourable returns over time.
Budget – the all-important question. It is imperative that your budget is set at a realistic level in relation to what you are hoping to acquire. This will take out any frustration and disappointment before you embark on your buying journey.
Luxury Villa in Côte d’Azur
Luxury Villa on Côte d’Azur
2. Ignore price, initially
The priority should always be fulfilling your search criteria and not getting the best deal in town. It is all very well buying a property at a price you feel is good, but if you are not happy in the property 6 months later then it will all have been a waste of time.
Once you have found the property or properties that get you excited, it then comes down to negotiation. This is a fully expected part of any real estate transaction in the South of France and properties are priced accordingly. If you are using a buyer’s agent (see below), see if they can get some benchmark information on similar properties sold in the area in recent times to give you a guideline.
As with any prime market, pricing is very subjective and the eventual closing figure will be dependent on both the seller’s need to sell and the buyer’s appetite to buy. Whatever you do though, do it quickly – if yours is a special property, it is likely to have generated significant interest elsewhere and if you do not make a move early, you may miss out on the opportunity.
3. Research is not always what it appears to be
What you read about the French property market in the international press rarely applies to the prime/super prime markets like central Paris and parts of the Côte d’Azur.
As an investor, there is a lot of doom and gloom in the media, particularly where property is concerned, and France has not been excluded from such coverage. However, this generic and often misunderstood information usually applies to the overall market and to the prime areas. Simple economics tells us that where demand is greater than supply, prices tend to rise and, whilst the number of transactions may have diminished as the world weather’s this economic storm, there will be no ‘bubble’ to burst at the top end of this market.
4. Financial structure
It has always been considered to be an advantage to be a cash buyer, which facilitates a more rapid transaction, which is not dependent on a lending bank’s approval for financing. Whilst this is certainly not in question, if your purchase is structured as a private buyer providing 100% equity in to the acquisition, you will be exposing yourself to one of the harshest tax régimes in Europe. The speed of the transaction can still be achieved, but through more tax efficient structures. You should take advice from estate planning and tax specialists that have deep insights in to the tax situation and how your position can be optimised. It is highly recommended to source such experts locally as your own tax specialists in your country of domicile are not likely to be as familiar with the constantly changing tax landscape and the implications therein.
5. Building/extension rights
Every property or plot of land is within a specific planning zone, which varies significantly throughout the region.
The constructions rights within these zones are defined by the local town hall and each will be assigned a building coefficient. This coefficient effectively tells you what percentage of the land can be built upon. For example, a property sitting in one hectare (10,000sqm) of land might have a planning coefficient of 0,15. This means that the maximum living surface that can be built within this plot is 1,500sqm (or 15% of the overall land surface).
Within each zone, there may be other restrictions, such as a ‘zone boisée’ where the trees are protected (frequently the case in St Tropez where you can have a property very close to the water, but with very little actual sea view). The protected zones take precedence over any building coefficients.
It is important, therefore, to ensure that you are fully informed on the development potential of a given property. Any work you do plan on implementing will have to have the approval of the local urban development team.
The Côte d’Azur is, without doubt, a prime market with certain parts of it being labeled ‘Super Prime’. Many buyers come to the region with a view to owning a property but without knowing exactly where. Naturally, this will often result in a longer search as the buyer familiarises him/herself to the great variety this region has to offer. There really is everything down here from an uninterrupted panoramic sea view from your waterfront (‘pieds dans l’eau’ in local vernacular) palace on one of the Caps (the most famous of which are Cap d’Antibes and Cap Ferrat), to a 3600 view of sea, mountains, forest and historic villages from atop your estate 30 minutes inland from Cannes. You’ll need to know what appeals to you the most… Theoule sur Mer, Les Issambes, Sainte Maxime and Grimaud.
7. Sun exposure/view
Exposure to the sun and the view are two of the most frequent search criteria encountered in this region. A south-west exposure is perceived to be the best with, usually, a view of the sea. But be careful – it is conceivable to have a south-west exposure but with no sun after 4pm due to the often mountainous surroundings that play such an important part in making this region so beautiful.
Similarly, what you might describe as a ‘sea view’ might not concur with other people’s opinions. A good quality zoom lens can turn a sea ‘glimpse’ in to a very good sea view.
The tip, therefore, is not only to visit the property to see the view for yourself, but to visit at different times of day to ensure that the exposure to the sun is what you expect it to be. Of course, with the heat of the sun in the summer months, some prefer a little shade towards the end of the afternoon – it all comes down to personal taste.
Make sure you know everything there is to know about getting to and from your property. Who owns the access roads, what is the traffic like at different times of the day/year are two questions to which you should have answers before making the decision to purchase.
If the access roads to your desired property are not in good condition, it would be worthwhile having someone speak to the neighbours to ascertain whether there is an appetite to improve the roads or not.
Luxury Properties on the French Riviera
Luxury Properties on the French Riviera
As is the case in any prime market, security needs to be taken seriously. Wealth inevitably comes with being a target for criminals and ensuring that your property is well-secured will provide peace of mind whether you are in your property or not. It is imperative that you use a firm of experts, which, as a proportion of your overall investment, will cost relatively little.
10. Get help from a professional
Find someone you can trust and use them as much as possible. For instance you may want to hire a property search specialist, also known as buyers’ agent, who can help you optimise the time you spend finding the right property. We can help you in Côte d’Azur .
You may have come across something that looks fantastic in a brochure or, occasionally, online, but photos can often be misleading. Your personal mandated specialist will be able to pre-visit the properties that are of interest and apply their local expertise with regard to all the factors above. This way, when you do eventually come to the region to view a pre-defined portfolio of properties, you will only be viewing those that correspond 100% to your search criteria.
Your specialist will also be able to show you precisely where the property is located, and usually have access to properties that are not officially on the open market.
If you are looking at the luxury market in this region, officially defined as being priced at €2m+, don’t expect that all properties are publicly listed or sold via your chosen estate agents. This particularly applies at the higher end of the market where certain properties will never be formally listed to protect the privacy of the seller. They are, nevertheless, for discreet sale but there will only ever be a limited number of people aware of this and they will have signed some form of confidentiality agreement to ensure that it is not marketed beyond a pre-approved audience. High-end buyers are not usually interested in over-marketed properties and high-end sellers know this.
Whoever you do use will need to be fully insured and licensed with a ‘Carte Professionnelle’
Phone Agent Villas Cote d’Azur +31 6 55 88 47 47 or +33 7 82 68 61 70
Contact – Villa Cote d’Azur for sale Contact us Now.