Property Management

Worth pursuing or not?

UK born, fluent French speaker, used to speak good German, diy skills, recently Director of Operations/Housekeeping for a 300 luxury property vacation rental management company in Florida. Currently helping a friend renovate his family home near Perpignan.

My friend is trying to persude me to become a property manager for holiday rentals in the Pyrenees Orientales region due to my experience in the industry. We have even discussed buying small properties to renovate and rent during long wine filled lunches. Whilst I do have these and other skills and have experienced French holiday rentals from a consumer point of view I am wondering if the market place is already too awash with service providers? From my own rental experiences in France there can be a lot left to be desired for customers especially those coming from the US.

Any suggestions?

Andy, we have owned a place between Caudies and Quillan for 13 years. When we first had it, there didn't seem to be many Brits about (our village has Belgians, Dutch and Germans as well as French) but I have noticed a considerable rise in English visitors/residents in recent years, accompanied by the usual increase in DIY stores. It's important to be aware that the electricity system is different, as I'm sure you know and the admin side of things in terms of business/employment can be overwhelming (we're OK as my husband is French).

My guess is that the Languedoc/Rousillon area will take off sharply when the French economy picks up as there are still lots of places where you can find interesting property with beautiful views, and lots of Brits have the fantasy of owning a place but not the language or technical skills.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

I understand your point about the demands of American guests, I dealt with it for many seasons in Florida. The plus side was it being excellent, ‘training’ and it also allowed us to work out how far we could raise the bar before it becoming ridiculous. However, we were also dealing with many million dollar plus properties which could often increase expectations. The company website and the software developed internally for guest experience helped reduce frustrating calls and managing around 300 houses in some ways made things easier because of the infrastructure we had. The team got very good at anticipating things and being proactive. Having three distict seasons also allowed us to ramp up from spring break to easter to summer.
Being still a few years away from retirement means I still need to earn a living but can supplement things with other work whilst possibly building a portfolio. Something to think about.
Really appreciate your input. My friends place is in Espira, a former winemaker but he used to also own an apartment on the beach in Barcares.

It depends which side of Perpignan you are on - There is a dearth of English Speaking property managers where my places are (Barcares/Leucate) - My last property manager packed it in because he couldn't make a living from it so it depends if you want to top up a pension or earn a full time living from it. I have someone now but he is way down near the Spanish Border so he is at least 45 minutes away if there are any issues which is not ideal. As regards American guests I have had a few issues in the past, they seem to want someone to show them how every little thing works, meet them at the door, provide a maid service etc. they also don't seem to understand that it is a short season and is mainly July/August - One guest wanted a South facing apartment so they could be in the Sun - which is OK but it was December and another came in May and said they were surprised that France had been hit so badly by the recession - they didn't understand that it was out of season and most places were closed.

Sorry, advice taken and promptly ignored. The wine helps calm me after explaining yet again to the French owner (fortunately my friend) that a bathroom/toilet accessed directly from the kitchen is not a good idea!

I advise against renovating buildings during a long wine filled lunch.