PL5 – Property Letter 5 – 1st June 2002.

Posted by admin in Property Letters | June 1st 2002

1st June 2002

Writing that date….what a thought, I should be sowing my irrigated seedbeds today.

I’m going to keep this as brief as possible, but let you all know exactly where we are to date and give you a feeling of what we’re doing.
Confirmations to date :
Guy and Vicky want +/- 1 medium apartment and 2 small apartments.
Des & Suzie 1 medium
J & L 1 medium
P & J 1 medium/small
R & P 1 large or 2 medium
S & C 1 medium (on hold for the moment)
A & P 3 or 4 medium but essentially characterful. (no hurry)
Total so far 11 or 12 apartments.

I think our criteria bear repeating – we will not buy you anything that we would not buy ourselves. They must have appeal, character, charm, even if they are modest. Some need redecorating, some don’t, but assuming a pleasant redecoration and re equipping is completed, and we have budgeted for it where applicable, would Vicky and I spend a happy week or two on holiday there? Yes. Less space than at Umhlanga in most cases, but at least the equivalent standard of pleasantness, cleanliness and comfort. Big factors : Rentability (we approach this primarily as a commercial venture – if we ever spend a night in one of them, that’s a bonus). As far as we can judge, and based on as much local knowledge as we can glean, a good capital appreciation – good area, improving prospects. Sound building in pleasant neighbourhood, Not too noisy we hope. View, if not of the sea, then at least with charm and character. Essential easy and quick access to beaches, and town and business and conference centres, shops etc. by foot. We look at parking availability, bus routes and railway lines (not too close!).

So far we have offered on numerous, but the apartments sell like hot cakes (which must be a good sign). We’re getting about 50%. It’s very difficult indeed to find the properties in the first place, and we are on the go from morning to night every day. We see so many that are rubbish, and the odd good one, then we have to make a decision and secure them.

Vicky and I personally went for Ave Victor Hugo in Nice and the tiny studio in Riviera Palm Beach, in Cannes, and lost them both. Sold before we could get in. We have bought now, we hope, a double studio in Central Cannes, converted into a flat, which we will convert back into two 31sq. m. studios for rental purposes, and a small studio flat in Palm Beach.

We managed to get Villa Lerins for J & L, but failed to secure Le Neptune for S & C. We also lost out on Santa Cruz and the Studio in Rue de la Liberte, sold before we got our act together.

I was thrilled an hour ago when our agent phoned to say that Reine Astrid which we were so disappointed to lose for ourselves some days ago, had fallen through with the other buyers, and our offer of 90 000 has been accepted. So (I think – confirm Monday) we have that for P & J. It is perfect, spacious, high up with a view, the village square with about 10 games of animated boulle going on simultaneously, 15 hours a day, is below, as was the case with La Bruis, We have more or less taken the Arau Carias apartment off our list. P & J you asked specifically about it, but there’s something wrong – not quite sure what, but Vicky feels quite strongly about it, and I’m sure she’s right.

Des and Suzie, we’re still looking, and visiting more on Monday and Tuesday.

R & P, the charming and big studio in the old city of Nice is still available as of this morning,(it’s marvelous, and the quality of the renovations, not yet complete, is excellent) We are just in the process of trying to find out more about Old Nice. Someone has said to us that there are people moving out of the old city because of immigrants (which we have not been aware of I must say), and dirtyness! Well, I’m not at all sure, as it’s charming to us, and teeming with life, (with a few hobos too). We want to get more advice as we have understood that the city is pouring money in to develop it and care for it, and there is lots of evidence of that. We are looking at the big flat in Riviera Palm Beach again on Monday at 2.00, and then another just off the Centre of Cannes, at the same price, but with two bedrooms. Apparently equally lovely, with the most stunning panoramic view. We will let you know.

Vicky and I were supposed to leave here next Wednesday. At this stage we think it will have to be Thursday, and I don’t know how we will get it all done in time. So we fly to London on Friday 7th, and will probably have to come back here for a few days the following week, which we had not planned to do. Back to Cape town on 20th June, and we’ll be here again to get the management and rental side up and running in September. It will take a couple of months for the transfer to be completed, and to get the keys of the flats. If it should happen before we get back here for any of them, we will use an existing management company until we can get here and take over from them.

We met with Entenial Bank again yesterday, and with CCF Bank this morning (Saturday). Both are keen to have our business, and Entennial offer a slightly better rate, although CCF (French arm of HSBC) offer a bigger all round banking service. We see Entenial again on Tuesday, and I suspect we will go that route. We see another accountant for clarity on the setting up of a French Company, and what all the ins and outs of, and requirements for investing in France are, on Monday at 11.00. What we have clarified from both banks is that :

They prefer to give mortgages to individuals or French registered companies, or SCI’s (Societe Civil Immobiliere) which are set up specifically and solely for investment in property, and are simple and cheap to establish. They are not limited liability companies, but provide protection after the death of one of the directors, in the same way that a trust does, and therefore from death duties etc. I do not think that you will get a mortgage in the name of a foreign or offshore body. In your registering under French Law, they feel they have some security.

All paperwork and administration can easily be done from abroad. They are very relaxed about completing everything by fax, with hard copies following later by post.

Information I have given in previous letters regarding what is necessary to produce – copy passport, details from your accountant, zim or offshore bank etc., still apply, and so too do the rates of interest. Where Entennial are at 4.1% as stated (and I will triple check on Tuesday because CCF find it difficult to believe), CCF are at 4.51%.

We will send you a full spreadsheet on any individual property you want, but please do not ask for too many. We naively sent a few to J & L and S & C and they took ages to download. Many many megabytes.

Love and regards,

Guy and Vicky

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