French Property Specialists

Châteaux & Belles Demeures

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Information on buying a Château in France.

With an extensive portfolio of French Châteaux for sale and many years' experience handling the sales of these historic buildings, Sifex is well equipped to assist those for whom the dream of owning a Castle in France is set to become a reality. Our portfolio is updated daily and we are constantly seeking to expand our range of Châteaux to satisfy the demands of our international clientèle.

France has a wealth of these unique historic Châteaux for sale and in many instances, the prices still represent remarkable value. The advent of the internet stimulated worldwide interest in the French market for the lifestyle and accessibility and in the Château market in particular. Buyers now come from all corners of the globe. The international interest caused prices to rise to levels hitherto unseen. Subsequently the financial crisis, triggered by the sub prime loan problems of 2007, has seen a correction in French property prices in the recession that followed. Obviously global financial market conditions will always impact on how relatively inexpensive a piece of history or 'family seat' in France will be. Château hunting in the lesser-known and less populated departments of the Massif Central became popular after prices rose throughout the Midi and Southern France. The Limousin also enjoyed a flurry of attention for its more reasonably priced castles, as did the Auvergne, the arrival of the new Millau viaduct bringing the Mediterranean within easier reach.

Through the network of well-established French agents with whom we are associated, we place great emphasis on being able to offer the maximum information possible about the Châteaux on our books. Floor plans are not always available, but we are happy to pass on requests for information for interested parties. The French have a wonderful phrase to describe the unblighted properties on their books. It is 'pas de nuisance'. If you are contemplating the purchase of an imposing Château, of course you don't want to be shocked on arrival to hear a TGV rushing past, or discover that there is the constant background buzz of an autoroute nearby. Equally important is to ensure that the outlook is not spoilt by a view of a water-tower (Château d’eau) – or worse. It pays dividends to stay with a trustworthy agent who will ensure that you don't travel for many miles on a fruitless trip where the 'nuisance' immediately renders the property of no interest to you.

From the structural point of view, it is important to be aware that the costs of renovating a substantial property can be considerable. As a benchmark our agents advise that you could expect to spend anything between 900 and 1,700 Euros per square metre (the former probably for outbuildings – the latter if it is a total rebuild) on a renovation project. If the property is merely in need of internal modernisation (e.g. kitchens, bathrooms and heating) you can generally halve this figure. It is best to find a property where the roof has been well maintained - especially if it is vast!

It is advisable to be careful not to overspend to the point where you could never recoup the value of your investment, if you ever decide to sell. Generally speaking buyers are more prepared to live with a fairly neutral colour scheme where they can impose their own style with soft furnishings and curtains. Anything too distinctive may restrict the number of people to whom it will appeal.

In the case of listed or 'classé' properties, a grant for renovation may apply, provided funds are available. If the 'Bâtiments de France' agree to this, they will need to approve the architects and craftsmen used to ensure that the quality of the work is good enough to merit the expenditure of the grant and to maintain these historic buildings correctly. Listed properties are subject to various rules including a restriction on development within a certain distance of the listed element be it a gateway or façade. If a property is eligible for 'listing', the process is likely to take months.

Having the budget to buy a Château is only one element of the equation. The running costs are inevitably greater because in most cases the surface area is much larger. An affluent owner of a prestigious property could well expect to spend between 50,000 and 90,000 Euros a year on running costs including lighting, heating, insurance and maintenance. In this day and age, many of our international buyers are seeking a part time residence and spend only a few months of the year in France. It is still relatively easy to find good caretakers, either those prepared to live on the property or local people, to work as cook/cleaner/gardener/handyman etc.

We recommend that you read our section on buying a property in France which can be found under ‘Buying’. View our selection of Châteaux for sale, or
 to receive details of Châteaux from Sifex, contact us on email: info@sifex.co.uk or telephone us on +44 (0)207 384 1200. Our office hours are 09.00 - 18.00 GMT Monday – Friday. If you leave a message, we will get back to you as soon as possible.