Buying luxury property in the south of France can be a minefield – especially when you don’t speak the language or live in another part of the world. The solution? Hire a French Riviera-based property sourcer, says Gina Baksa
Alistair Phillips is showing me around his home in the secluded Var region in the south of France. Sandwiched between Marseille and Cannes, this beautiful part of Provence is for the most part, a well-kept secret. Secluded beaches and islands, the incredible Gorges du Verdon, forests and medieval hilltop villages, the region is renowned for its wine, tourism and of course the millionaires playground of St Tropez.
“We came here in 1995,” he says, pouring a second rosé from his father’s vineyard nearby. “So we know the Var and the Riviera property market intimately. I began selling real estate here in the south of France in 2003 after a long career in IT. My systems and management background helped me to develop Smartfinder.com web portal to help buyers locate their dream homes in the French Riviera.”
Alistair could see the struggles facing clients looking for luxury homes in the French Riviera and the Var. They didn’t speak French, they were unsure of the legal process for buying French property, and they didn’t have the time to spend weeks house hunting among the hundreds of luxury homes for sale in the Var region.
“Google is a great search engine but it won’t give you all the French luxury property listings,” Alistair explains. “Which is why I created www.smartfindervar.com – a unique online directory of all the property portals serving the French Riviera that gives buyers access to over 100,000 properties for sale on the Cote d’Azur and has listings from the top 30 French luxury property websites.”
The Smartfindervar.com website has unique and useful content to help buyers in their property purchase, with interactive maps of property prices, advice on how to use French property websites, plus a directory of all the main French property websites that list over 20,000 luxury homes at €+1Million. Once such property in Les Issambres on the Côte d’Azur is featured in this article.
So what makes Alistair qualified to help buyers find their luxury dream home in the south of France? “Firstly, my own vast experience of having looked for property here myself, and then for friends and family, so I understand the needs of expats moving here,” he explains.
“And secondly is my strong desire to make this process easier and more transparent for buyers, based on what I saw when working for a French estate agency in 2003. I can also offer skills gained from my IT consultancy background.”
What makes his Smartfinder Var service unique? “We give our clients more value than most property sourcers as we allow them to try our service before they use us, via a free initial search. We just need a 10-minute call and we will invest time on this initial search and hope that our clients will continue with us and agree to us becoming their sole agent.”
Clients can access the whole French Riviera and Var luxury market via smartfindervar.com not just a few listings from Rightmove or Seloger. And Alistair can help clients save time due to his extensive list of contacts, helping him to quickly identify the best and most appropriate properties to suit specific requirements.
“When we get to a shortlist we email photos and videos of a property and provide our objective feedback, so when you come to visit the area, you will be able to view just the very best properties in a few days. All these services come at no extra cost if you buy through an agency, as we split the agency commission between us. So why not maximize the value you get from an agency commission that you will have to pay anyway?
The Var region has long been a hotspot for luxury homebuyers. First the fantastic Mediterranean coastline, like the legendary beaches of Ramatuelle near St Tropez and smaller wilder creeks further west. Then the relaxed friendly atmosphere of unspoilt Provençal villages and markets, with all the savoir-faire of French lifestyle. Third are blue skies of the South East of France with over 300 days of sunshine per year that adds vivid colour into an already beautiful environment and inspired artists like Picasso and Cézanne.