Are Second-homes a blessing or a bind

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It’s the same the world over, once an area becomes a second home ‘hotspot’ property prices rocket with locals being priced out which in turn creates ghost towns/villages for most of the year.


Our little combe in the Cotswolds had holiday homes.
We used to use the garage of one of them to cook our burgers for Bonfire Night by Minchinhampton Common.

I suspect I’m on the wrong side of this debate as I own a 2nd home very close to the communities that were discussed in the article - and visit Damgan, Arzon and Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys not infrequently. As Tim says the problem is not confined to Brittany - Pénestin just the other side of the Villaine has 74% 2nd home ownership; the village where we have the house 20%.

I know the arguments - local young families priced out of housing but if you are going to make that argument you probably should demonstrate that there is a queue of local young families who want to buy but are being prevented from doing so - and if they do wish to stay where are the jobs going to be? There has been a gradual decline in the rural economy as farming has become less labour intensive and it is hard to know which the chicken and which the egg.

There is also the fact that you can’t just chuck out 50-75% of the home owners on the basis that they are only there three months of the year and expect the local economy to suddenly rebound - yes the jobs they create are seasonal but they are better than no jobs.

Like most things the problem is complex and just targeting one group as the villains is probably not the whole answer.


In our commune we have lots of empty houses (maison secondaire), inherited and being kept for the younger generations (in many cases).

Most of these houses are very old, stone built and generally way below accepted normes. The cost of improving them will be borne by whichever family member is finally in a position to a) want to live there and b) has the money to do the necessary (albeit with grants etc).

The only drawback is that these properties are often not cared for in any sense. They can become home to millions of strays and also all sorts of vermin etc etc.

There is a very gentle move afoot (locally) to encourage owners to
a) visit/keep an eye on the property
b) consider selling
c) consider renting

Whatever, it will come down to finance - as with most things.

However, if there is a good ratio between main and second homes in an area, I think it can enliven things. Often tourists/second home owners will help to support local enterprises. I know I am always less money conscious (not so tight fisted) when I am visiting somewhere.

Also, communes should be glad to have Tax d’Hab from second homes, since it is being abolished (more or less) for main Residences. There is little enough money coming into the Commune Coffers - every penny counts !

(yes, I know there is exemption on TH for certain empty properties)


Very obviously IMO, a bind. Destructive to communities and insensitive to everyone except those who know how to play the property market. Same thing happened in Wales. Dead villages. Damaged economy. I’m still hoping to discover why property/land speculation, around the world, isn’t counted in the same way, as the beastly, controlling “1%” ? in terms of $$$ and destruction of equal opportunity, And “who owns France”? As in the micro minority of billionaires and corporations, who own and control land and property, and thus the price of every home in the country, in UK. Perhaps French law makes that more difficult.
Or is the influx of Brits, cashing in on ‘do up a ruin to sell’ going to swing peaceful France into yet another land full of educated, qualified people, … without homes to call their own?

It is also interesting to note that in our area many people (newcomers and locals) are preferring to build modern houses - which have certain environmental benefits due to current regulations.

A house near us has been for sale for 2 years. The son of the old lady that died almost sold it once to a local young couple with a baby but the bank wouldn’t loan them enough money.
It’s fairly modern although attached to an old barn. I think the banks, having gone from careless to over cautious, often prevent young people getting on the housing ladder and also since 2008 wages have not moved much.
We have friends who as a couple earn a lot of money, they own their own home and buy new cars without a loan. 5 years ago they wanted to buy a flat near where the husband would be moved to for his work. They had great difficulty getting a mortgage because they didnt have enough recent credit history as they paid for things on debit cards not credit cards. It’s a mad world where borrowing makes you a better risk than paying your way!

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It’s not just a recent thing. In order to borrow money, seems you must already owe it… :zipper_mouth_face:

Donkeys years ago in UK, we decided to take advantage of buying something on Credit with 0% interest. It can be done just like that, a credit check on the spot - the Salesman told us.

Mmmm… Despite the fact that our mortgage was always paid on time, we had no Hire Purchase history, no credit cards, no nuffink. We only spent what we could afford - but seems that was not in our favour.

Anyway - BHS/their credit company phoned the shop back - and turned us down. In front of the other shoppers, the salesman had to break the news.

I have never felt so ghastly, mortified does not really hit the spot.

We had the money in the bank, but thought/hoped to benefit from the 0%

  • What a mistake -a to make-a !
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My wife and I own a second home in a village in Gard. We bought it from wealthy Parisians who wanted to move to Lisbon, so they could buy cheap property there. My wife’s British father bought a run down village ruin in this village in 1963. It cost him nothing, because no locals wanted it. He went on to marry a Frenchwoman and have two children, who now live in France but have studied in Britain. My father-in-law was a popular man here, because he employed the locals to renovate his house, and he could speak French and drink with the best of them. The villages were dying because the local youth were deserting the village to work in cities. It’s very unfair to blame “l’étrangers” when so many of them saved these villages from complete ruin, and the French were unable to keep their heritage on their own.


That is interesting because I wasn’t aware that there was such a thing as “credit history” in France. Is there an equivalent of Experian now, where lenders can check your “credit score”? I know it’s a big thing in the UK and it must be a problem for people returning there after years abroad, but I thought that lenders in France simply looked at your income, what level it is at and how secure it is judged to be, and made a decision based on that.

But yes the French really are ungrateful, aren’t they. They don’t admit Britain saved them in the war, they don’t admit the UK’s funding is vital to the EU, they don’t admit that their villages would be nothing but sleepy stagnating French backwaters without the étrangers. Hopeless lot.

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But yes the French really are ungrateful, aren’t they. They don’t admit Britain saved them in the war, they don’t admit the UK’s funding is vital to the EU, they don’t admit that their villages would be nothing but sleepy stagnating French backwaters without the étrangers. Hopeless lot.

Please reassure me that this is a tongue in cheek comment. Statements like this can easily come back and bite you even if said in jest.


No, the couple lived in the UK. I didn’t make that clear.
As for your French being ungrateful comment I am puzzled as to why it’s in a reply to me whether tongue in cheek or not.

For any loan you have to provide a dossier de crédit, which essentially contains the same info that experian use for their scoring, but you have to prepare it yourself rather than the financial body. But there must be a way to check whether you have defaulted on previous loans? Although I guess there’s less need here since you can’t get crazy mortgages in France, like the insane 120% ones that tipped the balance in the financial crash in 2008. And I suppose no crazy loans either. Do payday loans exist here?

Second homes are a complex problem, but sadly there isn’t the political will to develop constructive solutions. And you can’t just point the fingers at foreigners loving France to death, as I imagine that there are far more french owned second homes than non-resident ones aren’t there?

Personally, and as a second home owner, I would hugely increases taxes on second homes and hypothecate this income to provide social housing or measures to support the local economy. And then provide small rebates for second homes that are actually used for other purposes apart from the second home. A bit like the current ISF where there is a 20% abattement for property rented out.

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No it’s not a reply to you or anyone else in particular, it’s merely a reflection prompted by certain comments on this thread and many other similar comments that commonly crop up in different contexts, and also partly prompted by the other thread on the theme of Brits and their attitude to money.
Of course it’s partly tongue in cheek, but not altogether. I think that whereas to a Brit “putting money into a commune” is all important, it’s perhaps not quite so important to the French and especially in rural communities. If they don’t have a lot money coming in they don’t spend a lot on public amenities but really, what new projects do most villages have? As long as they have their salle de fête and enough funds to meet their needs and maintain the status quo, what more do they need? What really matters to most small communes is a strong sense of community, thriving associations that meet year round not just in summer, people who volunteer, things money can’t buy. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, sometimes villages do die, but maybe better that than keep them on life support as second home oases with all the native spirit and character gone out of them?

Brits used to laugh at the Yanks for getting sentimental about red telephone boxes and old London buses and wanting to buy and preserve British heritage and culture, while the UK considered these things old fashioned and didn’t value them greatly, it had moved on.

And, OK, I’m not thinking of anyone in particular on this thread or this forum but as a sweeping generalisation I do feel that Brits tend to have an over-inflated sense of entitlement and the-world-should-be-grateful-for-our-money, and they don’t always appreciate that other nations see things different and sometimes have different values.

So yes partly tongue in cheek but if it leads on to reflection and reassessment then that’s not a bad thing either is it?


You raise many good points Anna.

Of course, (as we know) a blanket assessment is never accurate - but often reflects how things might well appear to some folk - from whichever side of the fence they take their view. :thinking:

So very true - at least in my own Commune and the others in our Communauté de Communes. This is a low-income area and helping one another - by whatever means one can - is what makes life go round. :hugs:

Even if folk live in wealthy communes - folk can volunteer and thus (IMO) find greater satisfaction than simply writing a cheque… :thinking:

…not in a bad temper about this, but,
When all the families in France, no - when all the homeless people in France, have somewhere to live, when building/buying an ‘own home’, is not synonymous with guaranteed colossal income, when ‘tiny houses’, prefab houses, caravans, tents, shelters for people who can’t be sure of any income at all, when they are all brought into the discussion, given a choice, and help if necessary to visit and consider all the places, so easily taken over by anyone and everyone, with the power and cash to take their time, travel around, pick and choose, and do so, with no regard at all for communities and lives. …then, sure! By all means, come on rich Brits! Take your example from your wealthiest glitterati, fashionista leaders, claim everything, land, forest, houses, castles, lakes, ruins of all sizes! as your own as soon as you’ve got spare cash to do so.
What better investment is there, and how many times have I been told that! - than real estate, property?! Get some land! Get some more houses! I’d like to turn the planet upsidedown, and shake out all its pockets, so that Trump and every rich person in the world could never, never take one single action towards claiming another bit of planet to dress up with solid gold lavatories, or turn its trees to ghastly furniture ever again, at least, not until every little kid had a roof some care and some food.

There are 2 million empty properties in France, unfortunately most are in places people don’t want to live, as for the ‘every rich person’ comment who do you think of as ‘rich’, billionaires like Trump and Putin or people like me and others on SFN who own more than one house?

The only way we could buy was to re-mortgage the UK house.

The advantage is we own the French property outright and income and financial liability are all a) in the UK and b) in sterling.

But rich - don’t make me laugh.

As Tim points out there are many uninhabited properties in France from châteaux down and don’t forget that the largest group of 2nd home owners in France is the French themselves.


An accepted definition of being poor is to have less than 60 percent of the median national income, so for France this would be a household income of €1,008 a month. The national statistics agency Insee say that 8.8 million people here live on less than this (2016). That means 14.1 percent of the population live below the poverty line.

So if you are not poor, then you must be rich. And I am only guessing, but I imagine that the vast majority of people here on SFN are therefore rich. But sadly few individual actions make significant difference to wealth inequality, so all you can do is live as morally as you can and use your wealth wisely in however many homes you own.