Fair price for old agricultural building in a village location

After a couple of failed attempts at buying in SW France we are back and this time (fingers crossed) we can buy something suitable.
We have found a “grange” which is basically an agricultural shed constructed of stone on the edge of a village near Clermont-l’Herault. We are going to view it next week. The shed has a simple first floor installed with access via a ladder (no staircase). The contents have (what looks to be) grain stores inside and tools and stuff hanging on walls et al.
So my quandary is the price seems pretty high for what it is. Considering what you can get elsewhere for houses with toilets and bedrooms. I know Kirsty and Phil would remind me of location location location but the Mairie told me the property had been on the market for three years.
The problem is that I don’t have a frame of reference to gauge whether the price is about right or not. I estimate the conversion costs are 100-125k for 100m2 footprint.
Some factors to ponder:
• 45 mins from Montpellier on a bus route
• Sewage, Electricity and Water in the street (no fosse)
• No similar properties on the market
• The village is growing
• Been on market for 3 years
What would you expect to pay in that area? Any local knowledge would be greatly received.

Hi Darren and welcome to the forum.

Sadly, I do not know a fair price - but I would advise you to discuss with the Mairie whatever plans you might have for this building.

If the building is Agricultural it will need to be “redesignated” as Habitation. Make sure there will be no difficulty in doing just that. Yes, there will be forms to be completed, but you do need to know that The Powers That Be will not say NO to your request.

Also, if you have plans to enlarge - make sure that this will be acceptable.

In a word, cover your back before making the purchase (no matter what the price).

Good luck

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Thanks Stella

We have done this already. Its all good. the local Mairie has been very helpful so far and provided lots of information.

Great stuff… so now you need to decide how much you want to buy this property and how much you are prepared to pay… then make them an Offer.

Thinking a property is over-priced will cut no ice with Sellers who (probably) simply want to get as much as they can (fair enough).

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You can’t measure the cost of an old wreck against a new build house as the market here doesn’t work like that. And if its been on the market 3 years then the owners are probably not in a rush to sell. Having said that you often see them on the market at crazy prices just because the owners aren’t bothered if they sell or not.

Whatever you pay for it, with the conversions costs you are unlikely to be able to make a profit on it when the time comes for you to move on (actually you will be lucky to break even). So you need to think hard about how you feel about that. We know that we will never get back what we have invested in our home, but we don’t really care as it’s our home not an investment property.

So if you’re happy about this as a use of your hard earned money, then that may change how you feel about the price. No you don’t want to be ripped off, but the value of the place is basically whatever someone will buy it for.

Has the agent said whether there has been any interest in the last 3 years and whether they would be open to offers?

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Hmm, good advice Jane,

The thing is… there is a conflict of interest here. I can’t really go to the immo and ask what the lowest his client would take. His reply wouldn’t be reliable as he has an interest to get the best price regardless of value and fairness et al.

Also, this notion that you pay what you are comfortable with, doesn’t sit well with me. This is the reason for the post. Clearly the resale value is based on supply and demand. If we spend too much on the conversion then sure, we may not recoup the investment.

So it feels like a bit of a leap into the dark.

Hello Darren

You have chosen a reasonably expensive part of France to look for property. I used to live in Saint-André-de-Sangonis although we were just renting.

Have you checked leboncoin.fr and other agents for local land prices? If the building on the site is little more than a shed then it may be comparable.

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Coming from England, the French housing market is a culture change. Quite honestly I think it’s not you “may” not recoup the investment, but you just won’t. Some have managed, usually by buying cheap and doing the most basic conversion. But those who convert to live in often try to go further, and I think it’s very rare that they recoup the total investment. Some (french) friends of ours have just sold for around £1.5million their truly stunning home 12th century home that they have restored lovingly over years and years. They haven’t made a penny, but have had a wonderful home and fascinating project so it’s been worth it for them. And they’re buying another one to do it again.

The agent may not be working for you, but is in the game of making a sale so they should be open to discussion, And should be prepared at the very least to tell you about previous offers. Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

As for the price, there are a lot of sites that will tell you what the price in that area is per sq metre for ancien maisons, which will give you a guide.


You could try speaking to a Notaire in the local area Darren, they may be able to give you an idea of what it might be worth also they may know of similar or more suitable properties that are available.


The thing is - you’ll be paying the immobilier’s fees if you buy, not the vendor. Admittedly I’m not sure French estates agents see things that way but…

As Jane says, rural France is not a good place to buy if you wish to “recoup the investment”, you need to think about what you would be prepared to pay for the place when it is finished adjust for renovation and offer that.

Also - is the footprint 100m2 - i.e 200m2 of renovation? If so double the estimates you put in your 1st post.

In terms of deciding whether it is a reasonable price - are there any sales of lotissiments in the area, that will give you an idea of the value of a plot of land with planning permission and, of course, there are plenty of estate agent’s web sites to trawl for ideas about how far your money will go in a given area.

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I did NOT say you pay what you feel comfortable with. I said you need to decide how much you feel comfortable with paying (and can afford)… and then make an Offer (lower of course).

If you don’t make an Offer - you will never find out what the Seller will accept. An Offer will give you a starting point for Negotiations.

Regarding Resale - unless it is your Main Home you will pay high CGT on any profit - although the likelihood of profit is negligible or non-existent whether Main or Second Home . :face_with_raised_eyebrow::face_with_raised_eyebrow:

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I think this is good logic to follow. If I want an investment perhaps a new flat in Swindon. Not SW France. You are all correct. Its much more than investment. Its a lifestyle thing too. That is more important in our eyes.

I’ll ask the Immo and see what he says about price… and if the place is right, perhaps go for it. My british property market experience is clearly not working in the same way here.

The Channel changes everything you thought you knew… :upside_down_face: it really is a different world here…:joy::hugs::hugs:

You have nothing to lose by making an Offer… have a go !!! :grin::grin::grin:

Its so odd…You can get a 200m2 stone house on 4 floor close to the center for 70k in St Pons and a garage in Uzes for the same money. Such a wild variation.


If you’re talking about Saint Pons de Thomières then it’s in the middle of nowhere with a poor economy and little tourism. The centre of town is also very crowded and not particularly pleasant. Try finding a nice detached house on a bit of land in the surrounding area and the price would be much higher.

Uzès is very close to a large city (Nîmes) just like the area you are looking in.

It’s very difficult when you don’t know the areas you are searching in. It’s unfortunate that no-one has been able to help with local knowledge so far. Hopefully, there may still be someone who can help.


As has already been suggested by Debby Wade speaking to a Notaire would be a good idea. If they have something on their books they will give you an address, and that way you can check on the location without having to make a RV. They will also tell you if the price is reasonable.
Please be aware that renovation costs in France are extremly high and finding electricians/plumbers, builders can also be a nightmare.
Prices are a lot lower in the Creuse 23 and South Indre 36, but if you have your heart sent on a particular area then expect to pay more…
A Belgium friend of mine has recently bought a property (2nd home) that I would never have touched, too much work, too much land, useless outbuildings and an outrageous price. The owners (heritage) must have been in 7th heaven when she made an offer. Its only now just dawning on her what a money pit it is turning out to be and that the work will take several years to complete and that she won’t have enough money to do it all !

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Mandy has already answered but it’s not really a wild variation given the areas and demand/jobs in those areas :wink: and I agree on doing somewhere up - you’re probably just better off buying a house off the peg than a money pit. Have a look at the price of polts here it used to be a cheap area but no longer is (in my books)
Bonne chance :wink:


We have been doing this for a while. We initially tried for Uzes but it was so expensive it wasn’t practical. Saint Pons de Thomières we discovered when we were looking at Olargues. It is within our budget but dreary and not for us (sorry if you live there). We live in Oxfordshire so we totally get the price variations .

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Hi Darren, can you add your full name to your profile please as per the sign up request.


I don’t live there and wouldn’t want to to but have been there many times. I have a friend that works there. I’m back in the UK now.

If you want somewhere cheaper than Herault then maybe consider looking just over the border in the Tarn or Aude. I lived in the southern Tarn for 10 years (about 30 minutes from St Pons) and it may be worth a look around there if you don’t mind a somewhat wetter and cooler climate. If you want a similar climate to Herault then Aude is worth considering. Neither would be advisable if you need to work though.

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