PL7 – Property Letter 7 – 6th June 2002.

Posted by admin in Property Letters | June 6th 2002

We are rushing and finishing off details in order to leave for Italy tomorrow to return our hire car (the tinyest thing we’ve ever driven) and spend a night with James and Kate, before flying to London on Friday.

We will return to Cannes on Monday 17th, first early morning flight, and then to London again on Thursday evening the 19th, to fly home to Cape Town on Friday.

We spent yesterday finalizing on the five properties we have been able to buy so far. We are very pleased with all of them, and are only sorry that we haven’t been able to meet everybody’s requirements on this first foray. We have been staggered by the speed with which the properties we have been interested in have been snapped up, and the two bedroom apartment that I detailed as an interesting one in letter no.6 has as we thought it might, also gone! The pool has more or less dried up at the moment, and although we did see two more apartments yesterday, neither was satisfactory.

We are leaving our various agents who we now know very well, and like, to continue to search in our absence. They know exactly what we are looking for and are motivated. We hope to see more properties, and if they are right to finalise on some of them between the 17th and 19th. Thereafter, we will be back in September, which is nearing the end of the summer and we are told is a good time to buy.

Des and Suzy, R & P, S & C, L & C, and A & P, we are hard at it, but we’re not going to recommend anything that we don’t firmly believe is good in every respect. The important thing is that we have now started. We are busy with J & L, and P & J, and ourselves, as we learn the processes for the contracts and the bank etc. We have no doubt that it will become easier and clearer as time progresses.

Let me describe where we have bought. Cannes Croisette which is the beach front area, is like a big banana 2 km long. Suppose we are sitting on Isle Lerins which has a great and interesting history in French folklore and mythology; looking at the banana of Cannes in front of us. Towards the left (West) you would see the old port and the old city, and in the middle where the banana is fattest, you have the Festival Hall and many of the major five star hotels and glitz. As you move to the right the promenade of palm trees, lawns gardens and beaches becomes beautiful and a little quieter with very much more of a holiday atmosphere. On the extreme right is the stalk of the banana, which is a peninsular called Palm Beach. It’s like a village with an old central square (Place d’Etang) surrounded by cafes and shops buzzing with life and “boules” is the game. This peninsula is only about 600m long and 300m wide, and it is here that we have found most of our properties. As well as being charming and quieter than the glitzy centre of the Croisette, it is only a brisk walk away, and less expensive. To the right of this banana is another bay containing the village of Juan les Pins at it’s centre, which stretches round to Antibes, with Cap d’Antibes at the next stalk end.

We only now have a couple of viable options left as a potential purchases. One is the flat with mezzanine floor in Vieux Nice. It really is most charming, and of terrific quality, but we just don’t know what to recommend in terms of the area, so it would be your choice. We received an opinion that the area of Vieux Nice was “dirty” and has too many “undesirable immigrant types”. Security could be a problem. So we have spoken to people for advice and most interestingly to an American lady married for 20 years to a Frenchman who we have met on previous visits. They have lived in Vieux Nice for four years and love it. She did however agree that we would have to be careful about noise at night (i.e. is there a disco below!) and if it is realized that the flat is not residential, and empty sometimes it could be broken into. We would be happy to go and have dinner there one night and check it out. As far as we can tell there are no discos or bars below or too close.

Referring back to property letter (2) nobody has expressed interest in for example, the flats being refurbished on Cap d’Antibes, or the new flat in Belle Vue in the hills of Nice, so we presume that they are off the list although they might still be available. Cap d’Antibes has merit, but a bit like Vieux Nice we feel it is slightly the unknown, and likewise Belle Vue. Lovely flat, lovely views, lovely pool, spacious, garden but slightly away from the centre of Nice.

A couple of points that emerged from our meetings with the bank yesterday bear clarifying.
1. They require photocopy of your passport (faxed)
2. A letter from your bank (external) attesting that they know you and that you have an account with them. (Faxed)
3. A letter from your accountant certifying your income (in Euro terms) over the last three years and detailing any property holdings you may have in Zim or abroard.
4. Interest is at 4.1% which is very low compared to other banks, (4.5% was the best we could get elsewhere) is a moveable rate. They may only adjust this rate once per year and it is based on the Euro interbank rate (all of Europe). The system is that monthly repayments on your property remain fixed. If the interest rates go up, the duration of the loan is extended from 15 years to 16, 17 etc. but not more than 20 years. If the interest rate goes down, the repayment period is reduced accordingly.
5. They offer an insurance scheme for what we consider to be a fairly minimal charge (I think it is .32% as stated in a previous letter). To give you an idea Vicky and I have chosen to take out insurance, and on an average property it works out at about 24 Euros per month for a 100% cover in the event of death. It is optional as to whether you take out 100% on one spouse or 50% on each, or 80:20 or even 100% each.
6. The maximum mortgage allowable to non French residents is 70%. At Entenial they have allowed us to apply for 75% which we have done. Sandrine the Manager, believes we should get it, but we will know in a week.

We don’t really know how long transfer will take, but we are told two months sounds optimistic. We think it is going to be more like three, maybe even four. Our return here in September with Steve and Averil is therefore probably well timed for this first batch of apartments. The next batch in September will obviously only become available at Christmas. Payment in full, of course only takes place on transfer, as does any work, or furnishing that is required. We have a contact now with a very good agent who has been extremely helpful to us, his firm regularly supervise work done on properties in the absence of the owner. Vicky and I have confidence that if he obtains a quote for the work required and we accept the quote, the work will be properly and quickly done under his watchful eye.

We’re enormously aware that once the properties are purchased the key is going to be marketing. We don’t have all the answers. There will be a learning curve, but we do know that the Cote d’Azur is one of the richest and most visited destinations in Europe. Property and tourism are both booming. We have to all of us apply our best ideas to achieve results hopefully that exceed our expectations.

With love and best wishes to you all,

Guy and Vicky.

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