The air is cool inside the old winemaker’s house, a welcome break from the summer sun.
The house has three floors. In total there are six bedrooms, and lots of what you’d call “character”—original floor tiles, heavy wooden doors and wrought-iron finishes. It also has a small shady garden in front making it perfect for renting.
On my last scouting trip to the Languedoc, in southern France, I explored a bunch of such homes.
Few of the old village houses in this part of France come with outdoor space and the key for investors is to find something a little bit special, a house with an unusual feature…like a 600-year-old winding staircase…a delightful little garden…a big terrace ideal for adding a hot tub..
I was hunting for historic village homes surrounded by vineyards…bargain properties you could stay in part- or full-time and with the potential to throw of some rental income too.
The winemakers house was a fine old mansion. It was close to the village’s boulangerie for fresh croissants, a small market for groceries, and the local café for an espresso or pernot. I’m not sure the age of the house but it’s possible to find 800-year-old homes for sale in the area.
If your idea of France is fairytale castles perched on rugged mountain peaks and medieval villages where the food is amazing and the wine is local, then you’ll find everything you want in the Languedoc.
And if you yearn for Mediterranean views, long beach strolls and fresh seafood, then the Languedoc has that, too.
The Languedoc region offers some of the best value in France.
Its Mediterranean coast is part of France’s sunbelt and its long sandy beaches are still fairly uncrowded. Inland you’ll find wild mountain ranges, dramatic gorges and stunning hill towns that can easily compete with over-touristed and over-priced Provence.
It has long been popular with French second-home owners, but today, thanks to extended lockdowns, and encouraged by low interest rate, more and more French buyers from larger cities are looking to the Languedoc for country homes.
Budget conscious British expats discovered the villages of the Languedoc a while back. But due to the Brexit Effect their residency options are now limited, and motivated sellers are emerging.
The best play is to look for what’s called “a house of character,” a historic home. These appeal to both foreign and French vacationers coming for heritage and wine tourism and I recommend focusing on the villages along the coast and closest to the sun belt ensuring you get the best of the weather year-round. As you get into the highland regions the climate is cooler and wetter and the season shorter.
I recommend looking for a house of at least three-bedrooms. You’ll be shopping with a budget of around €250,000 to €300,000 ($280,449 to $336,539). You can find smaller, cheaper properties but that limits you to a smaller pool of renters. You want to target the widest pool of renters, and families and couples will all want what you have.
My team and I have been doing some research on this and we’ve found some interesting prospects in the Languedoc.
For instance, this character home is located in a small village just 30 minutes from the Mediterranean coast. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a spacious sunny terrace, and a private courtyard and pool. The listing price is €289,000.
My advice is to avoid houses in need of renovation. You won’t see any additional return for the additional costs you incur doing the work—and they could be hefty. Keep your buying costs as low as possible to maximise your return. In this market there are plenty of turn-key renovated properties available. Many foreigners arrive in the Languedoc, fall in love with a historic home, and pay handsomely for impressive renovations that will never be reflected in the price when they sell. You need just swoop in and enjoy the fruits of their labor and bank account.
You want to find something with some unusual feature, a winding medieval stairs, a unique tiled floor…something to stand out. This will boost your rental profile. And you should ensure you have space to add in some touches like a treadmill in the basement, a sauna, a hot tub, bicycles…one of my researchers even suggested throwing in a classic Citroen for guests to use.
This renovated three-bed stone house in a quiet hilltop hamlet offers a lot of French charm, with expansive views of the surrounding region, and just five minutes’ drive from a lively tourist town with restaurants, cafes, shops, and boutiques. It lists for €259,600.
The peak season here is about 13 weeks, from May to August. With the right property you should see some rental demand beyond that window.
The winemaker’s house in the village of Saint Genies de Fontedit that I visited on my scouting trip in 2019 listed for €279,000 ($313,000 at the time). Marketed right, I figure a buyer could rent for about €1,200 ($1,428) a week, maybe make more. Historic homes with a pool or a garden big enough to have one installed are rare finds and would be in strong demand in the hot summer months.
Foreigners can get mortgages here, and they come with eye-poppingly low rates—sub 2%. The criteria however seem unclear and subject to change. I’ve heard of some Americans getting through the process easily. Others…well, the bank’s process just didn’t understand their sources of income. It’s very important your income is easy to explain and you have a steady three-year plus history.
Remember, it’s crucial you do your due diligence. I haven’t visited the properties above. I just wanted to share them with you to give you an idea of what’s available.