Cela n’existe pas!” was pretty much the standard response each time I explained to yet another realtor what I wanted: a small, traditional, renovated village house, with two bedrooms or more, a garden and plenty of charme.
It doesn’t exist, I was told over and over again. It’s impossible to find. Of course it exists…but not in St. Remy! A house like that would be beyond your budget. We have many for sale but not rent. We had one like that last week but it was just rented. And so forth.
When they did have a listing with potential, the owner always seemed to be in Paris with the only set of keys. Or caught up in messy divorce proceedings pour le moment. Or at the beach with her children until we-don’t-know-when. Or not quite sure that she wanted to rent after all.
Finally I realized that no realtor was going to go out of his way for me: rentals don’t generate much commission and my being a foreigner probably didn’t help. So I set out to find a house on my own, through friends, word of mouth and “social media”—which, in 1998, meant the bulletin board at the local grocery store.
Later, looking for a place to buy, things were a bit easier…but not much.
That said, renting and then buying a house for myself in Provence is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m so glad I was persistent because I found exactly what I wanted. But I could definitely have lived without the time-wasting drama and almost certainly would have gotten a better deal if I had had someone to help.
Someone like Jackie Pressman, for example.
An Englishwoman in Cannes, Jackie (pictured above) has had an impressive career spanning the worlds of real estate, finance, antiques, telecom and insurance. Jackie and her husband Burt, a New Yorker, made the move down from London in 2000 and Jackie set up shop the following year. Through her company French Riviera Property Search, she offers comprehensive, tailor-made services to help would-be renters and buyers find the perfect place. She works up and down the Cote d’Azur, from Frejus to Menton, specializing in Antibes, Juan les Pins, Cannes, La Napoule and the hills behind them, such as Mougins, Valbonne, Plascasier, Opio and Biot.
Jackie works at no charge to her clients—her fees come off the advertised price of the property.
“Working with French estate agents can be challenging,” she says with a laugh. “They seldom share listings and many don’t speak English. Plus, they represent the seller, not the buyer or the renter--and so their goal is to obtain the highest price. Having us represent you creates a better balance.
“One of the key benefits of using us,” she adds, “is our local market expertise. We’re a particularly useful resource for buyers from outside France. Finding a home here presents different legalities than those in your own country and, specifically, different tax regimes.”
Offering confidential and discreet service, Jackie will help you source your dream property and negotiate the price. She’ll ensure that all documents are signed in the most tax-efficient way and guide you through the entire purchase process. With ten-plus years local experience, she’s confident recommending English-speaking notaries, insurance agents, banks, tax advisors, surveyors, architects, interior designers, project managers, property managers and more.
Jackie can evaluate your new property in terms of potential rental returns, quality of location, potential for renovation or redevelopment and more. Plus, she loves to share her local knowledge to help you find the best schools, restaurants, markets, festivals, cultural events and organizations.
At the present time, Jackie works only in the Cote d’Azur region. “I’m in and out of properties continually,” she says “and going too far from the coast would make daily visits difficult.” She will however, offer a couple tips for Provence house hunters in an upcoming guest post.
Whether you’re still dreaming of “some day” or you’ve already begun your search, Jackie would love to hear from you. References are available on her website.
Tel: +33 (0)4 93 38 22 24
Fax: +33 (0)4 93 38 22 69
Cell: +33 (0)6 98 12 89 00