Now that the seasonal holidays are safely packed away in 2013 memories, it is perhaps time to start the New Year of 2014 with a renewed approach to lots of things: fitness, alcohol intake, other vices, budgeting, managing relationships...and buying a property abroad?
It's an ideal time to shake off those bad habits, take a deep breath and think afresh about how you are hoping to achieve your goals.
So one property agent - Nicola Christinger, Manager at Home Hunts luxury property search specialists in Provence - offers some advice on how to kick-start a new, fresh and focused property search.
Of course France still tops the list as one of the favourite destinations for overseas buyers, but 90 per cent of her advice could actually apply just as well to other destinations.
In all of our Top Ten Places to Buy Abroad it's far to easy to feel a "property overload" when home-hunting: trawling through the exhaustive amount of properties online is not only time consuming but also often confusing.
So follow some simple steps...
If you have an area or areas in mind but have never been there then make a conscious effort to visit. With regular flights and excellent rail links getting to France has never been easier. So plan with your partner, friends or family a short break, even a few days can give you an excellent idea of what towns and villages have to offer. Sometimes visiting areas with your own eyes is the only way to start, it is difficult to imagine making a significant investment without knowing what to expect. Concentrate on looking at just the areas before trying to combine it with property visits.
Lighten the load
Eliminate areas immediately that are not where you want to be. By removing areas that you know you have visited and would not want to buy in this can help you concentrate on other areas. If you have already seen areas that you are certain you like or dislike then the search process is already one step lighter. Even discounting towns or villages within a region can make a difference.
Money, money, money
Work out a realistic budget. Prices in France have seen a drop in certain areas and an increase in others, there is no set or standard negotiation level (this goes for most other countries too]. If you are looking to buy part cash/part mortgage then talk to a financial advisor who has experience in dealing with the French lenders and who can guide you as to how much is accurate to your income or personal situation. It makes it much simpler when visiting properties if you already know what you feel financially comfortable with and are able to spend.
I want, I want?
Probably the hardest part of buying a property is working out what type of home you want to buy. Almost 90 per cent of buyers have a "coup de cour" - an immediate feeling of falling in love with a property. Start by making a list, even if this changes after you have visited an initial selection of properties at least you are starting with some important criteria. Ask yourselves some honest questions: Do you want a garden, a pool, or a small terrace? Do you want an apartment or a house? How big should the property be, two bedrooms or 10 bedrooms? These basic requirements rarely change so think about how big the property needs to be before looking at chateaux if you only need and want a three-bedroom house.
A natural process of change
It's OK to change your mind. In fact it is natural and almost inevitable that buyers change some element of their criteria along the property search path. Many buyers start their journey by thinking that a modern house is not for them; an authentic property only is what they think they want to buy. However, there are many stunning homes which have been built within the last 15 years or even more recently where the materials used are so beautiful and original that a combination of modern day comfort and authenticity becomes more important than in what year a property was built. Similarly, a factor such as "within walking distance to a village" is one of the first compromise or change buyers make if they find their dream home.
January 2014 is already shaping up to be a very busy month, so make this year YOUR year to buy a dream home abroad...
Search here for properties in France.