Marketing your holiday home property in France for long term lets
- Last updated on .
- Hits: 2776
France has some of the highest numbers of second homes in Europe. The South of France continues to be one of the most popular locations for Northern Europeans to buy holiday homes. France remains the number one tourist destination in the World and it has a very healthy Snow Birds market for off season monthly rentals over the winter period. The South of France especially, has some of the highest rental yields in Europe, providing healthy returns by combining high weekly rates over the summer season, with stable monthly rentals over the warm winter period.
Second homes in France
There are an estimated 3.2 million second homes in France. In popular regions such as Provence and Cote d'Azur, there are over 500,000 holiday homes.
In the case of the Herault department in the Languedoc region (Occantie), the number of second homes have increased by over 700% in the last 50 years (+115,000) and holiday homes now account for 14% of the total hosing stock in the department (SOURCE: INSEE, the French statistics agency).
In terms of the number of holiday homes in France rented out for short term stays, just on Airbnb alone, there are over 300,000 homes advertised in France, including 60,000 in Paris.
Our research indicates that there are approaching 14,600 long term rental properties advertised for short-term leases (3-6 months) on the main rentals websites in France. This figure has grown by nearly 16% in the last 2 years.
Marketing your holiday home in France
With a growing number of holiday homes in France being advertised for weekly and monthly rentals, now is the time to get smart about promoting your second home in France. Here is our top 10 guide to promoting your French property for short and long term rentals.
Short term rentals market in France
It goes without saying that the market for summer holiday rentals in France is very buoyant. It has been this way for the last 40-50 years. In 2019, there were 89 million visitors to France, accounting for over 130 million overnight stays. But what has changed in the market for villas and gites in France, is that the level of competition has grown exponentially and the marketing channels have contracted.
If you roll back 25 years, the gite rentals market in France was virtually sown up by a few Travel Agency business (like Chez Nous) who catered predominantly for offline marketing, via listing catalogues. Then in the late 1990s there was a tremendous explosion of websites offering holiday homes to rent in France (such as Holiday Lettings, Arbitel, Homelidays, Holiday Rentals, etc). One by one, these websites were snapped up by the 'big boys' and now the market has been concentrated into the hands of 5 main (global) platforms: Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, Agoda and TripAdvisor and some regional players like Novasol. There is some evidence that consumers are being repelled by too much choice on these big accommodation platforms and are seeking out specialist niche holiday sites and boutique agencies, but for the time being the market remains in the hands of the 'big boys'.
So for high season summer rentals, the market in France is characterized as having a vast number of offerings, on a limited number of website platforms. I would say that the main impact of this, is that rental prices for villas and gites have not changed in the last 15 years. In some cases, prices have even come down. When it comes to advertising your holiday home in France, the 3 critical factors are:
- finding the correct price point
- establishing customer reviews above 4.5
- differentiation - making your holiday home stand out from the crowd.
This is not to say that you cannot still make a very healthy income from summer rentals in your French holiday home. As we will outline below, it has just become a bit more difficult and you need to work much harder.
Long term rentals market in France
The holiday home market in France has traditionally been geared around getting high value bookings in the summer weeks to help pay for the upkeep of the house throughout the year. But there is another important dimension to the rentals market for second homes in France that is often over-looked. When you combine the high season rentals with monthly rentals throughout the winter period, the rental yields on property in France can often approach 9% per year. This is higher than rental yields in parts of London, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin; and it makes owning a second-home in France a wise investment
Off-season monthly rentals will not earn you massive amounts of profit, but they do help cover most of your fixed costs for the year. Then when you come to rent your holiday home in the summer season, the revenue is pure profit. You also benefit from having someone in the property, keeping it warm and secure.
I do however, need to make an important distinction here between standard French long term rentals (mainly aimed at the French domestic market) and temporary short term monthly leases (targeted at the international market).
French long term leases
Due to restrictions imposed by French Real Estate law (Loi Alur), it can be quite tricky to rent out a property in France on a long term basis. In fact, the market is closely regulated into 3 categories: 3 month (maximum) rentals, 12 month fixed term rentals and 3 year rentals. Each category has its own set of regulations.
There are risks emanating from the strong legal protections afforded to Tenants, where it can be incredibly difficult to evict tenants, even if they have stopped paying the rent. The eviction process in France will certainly take a minimum of 3 months and it is not uncommon for the process to take 6-12 months. Properties which are rented under this tenancy law, must also conform to a number of minimum standards (with valid reports obtained for energy efficiency, conformity of the electricity circuit, risk of natural disasters, etc, etc.). Finally, there are some additional tax implications for the property owner as well.
In France, it is primarily the Real Estate agents and Private Owners who advertise properties for long term rent. There are some lettings agencies in the big towns and cities, but due to the high cost of the annual operating licence, there are not as many as in other countries. For the Real Estate agents, the rental market often plays second fiddle to the property sales. For the individual Property Owners, most take out some form of Rent Protection Insurance, to cover them in case the tenant stops paying the rent and/or they need to evict them. These Insurance Policies impose some quite restricitve conditions on Owners for the types of tenants and their financial status, which are deemed acceptable.
Basically, unless you have a permanent employment contract in France, French tax returns for the last 2 years and various other financial statements and references, then it is very difficult to rent a place in France. If you are a foreigner with no financial records in France, unless you pay a Year's rent up front and also a sizeable deposit, then it will be virtually impossible for you to rent a house or apartment in France.
Temporary secondary residence rentals
So you probably don't want to get involved in renting your holiday home in France to the domestic market and certainly not under the standard French tenancy law. However, there is a sizeable number of foreign visitors to France who are looking to stay between 3-12 months. In 2020, France issued over 700,000 long stay visas to Foreign nationals, many of whom were coming to study or to enjoy an extended-holiday.
As we have outlined above, it is incredibly difficult for these foreign visitors to arrange accommodation in France on a mid-term basis. This presents a great opportunity to create promote your holiday home in France to the growing number of International clients looking to rent a property for 3-6 months.
Long term rentals, especially over the winter months, provides a low-cost opportunity to obtain additional revenue from your house in France. The tenants pay the utility bills and keeps the house warm and secure over the winter period. Obtaining a long term rental for 4-6 months, certainly helps to cover your fixed costs on the house, such as the Taxe Fonciere, Taxe d'Habitation, Buildings & Content insurance and Property Management fees. The additional income can also help to contribute towards the costs of property repairs and upgrades. Also, it is never good to leave a house empty over the winter period and having a tenant in the property helps alert you to any small issues like leaks (which could become major headaches)..
In terms of the likely rental income you will receive, the average weekly high season rental price is generally a good guide as to the monthly rental price you will be able to charge for off season rentals. For properties with swimming pools, the off season monthly rental price will be around 60% of the high season weekly price.
|4 bed villa with pool||3 bed village house||2 bed apartment|
|Estimated purchase price||€350,000||€250,000||€150,000|
|Summer rentals||8 weeks @ €2000||6 weeks @ €1250||35 nights @ €80|
|Mid-Late season rentals||4 weeks @ €1500||4 weeks @ €850||25 nights @ €50|
|Long term rentals||6 months @ 1200 per month||6 months @ €900 per month||6 months @ €750 per month|
|Gross rental yield||8.34%||6.52%||5.7%|
Long Term rentals in France - long let specialists
Over the last 17 years we have developed a wealth of experience in the property rentals sector in France. Our aim is to help make owning a second home in France cost-neutral for you, through maximising the rental income you can earn from your home.
We work closely with a whole range of property owners to maximise the booking potential of their property. As well as our own website promotion, we utilise a range of online services to publicise our vacation rentals in France. Here is some of our advice to help you promote your holiday property online:
10 tips for marketing your long term let
1. What is your unique selling point?
Every property has its own special feature:
- fabulous views
- close to the beach
- near a pretty town or village
- harbour town
- remote and tranquil
- located in a vibrant holiday resort; etc.
Whatever it is about your property, you need to articulate this to the buying public. Give them one or two reasons why they should rent your property. Avoid being bland. Make your property stand out.
You also need to align your main selling points, with the key requirements of your potential clients. For long term renters, they are often are looking for properties with:
- sufficient heating over the winter
- strong WiFi connection to enable remote working
- close to facilities such as schools, airports, supermarkets, etc.
- outdoor space
Your advert needs to respond to each of these 'search criteria'.
2. High quality photographs
Photographs sell properties - especially photographs of the outdoors. People like to see where they will be staying and picture themselves being there. Give them a taste of your village or the view from the bedroom window.
The other photographs should emphasise how your property is clean, light and airy. Make sure that your photographs encapsulate the unique selling point of your long term let property.
Indeed, in this ultra-competitive age for holiday rentals, high quality photos are sometimes not enough. With more and more of our properties, we are now using high definition 360° virtual tour videos (produced by our partner site 3DCAM) to really sell the benefits of the rental property.
3. Concise description
Provide your potential guests with a concise and accurate description of your long term let property. Emphasise your unique selling points in your first two or three lines. Avoid listing every knife and fork that you provide.
Make use of strong adjectives: comfortable, spacious, relaxing, etc. Paint them a picture in words of what it will be like staying in your rental property. Don't forget to offer some activity ideas that are located nearby. But remember, don't be bland. Turn 'walking nearby' into 'walk the beautiful trails of the Black mountains' and 'canoeing' into 'canoe down the spectacular Gorge d'Herault'.
4. Power of Recommendations
Research from USA has shown that consumers are 6 times more likely to follow a recommendation than a standard classified advert. Recommendations give us confidence to purchase. If you have time and space, include some comments from past guests. Just one or two lines will do. Too much and it will come across as 'cheesy' or artificial.
5. Key information
You have about 1 minute to capture a potential customer's attention about your long term let property. Generally they want to know 4 key pieces of information.
1.) how much it is going to cost?
2.) Will it be big enough?
3.) Is it available?
4.) Where is it?
Make it easy for them to find this information in the description of your rental property. Let them tick all their requirements there and then. Wherever you advertise your property keep your availability calendar up to date. Leave statements of when the calendar was last updated (to shown that the information is accurate & up to date).
6. Respond quickly
This is not so much a promotion issue, but more common sense. If you do get a booking enquiry, get straight back to them. At Long Term Rentals in France we always try and get back within 2 hours with confirmation. Never lose a potential booking by being slow off the blocks. Also, try and offer them an incentive to book there and then. Throw in an extra night, mention a fete taking place nearby during their stay, tell them if you have added something to the house. Tell them anything that might wet their appetite.
7. Guests list
Keep an email list of who has stayed at your long term let property. Send them an update email once a year. After 4-5 years you probably will have a guest list of approaching 34-40 people. You never know, by sending an email out to your contact list you might get a short break out of it or a repeat booking. Tell them how lovely it is in the Spring or the Autumn/Fall when the price is lower (and you have less bookings).
8. Provide the personal touch
The internet is very impersonal. Anything you can do to show that you're a real person, sets you apart from your competition. At Long Term Rentals in France we write to our long term let property customers the week before they arrive to tell them about good local restaurants to try or a festival that is taking place. It is always a nice touch to write to a customer after they have stayed at your house. We email them to thank them for their stay and ask them if everything was OK. When it comes to getting referrals or repeat bookings, the personal touch is absolutely essential.
9. Keep track of your enquiries
It is always wise to keep track of your booking enquiries. Which of your advertising areas generated the most enquiries? Where did your guests find out about you? It might be that one website generates lots of enquiries but no bookings. Speak to the webmaster about why this is the case. All of this information will help you update your advert details and plan your marketing plan for the next year.
10. Plan to succeed
If you want to get long term let property bookings you have to invest in advertising. We advise our clients that they should look to spend 5% of anticipated income on advertising. But where to advertise? There are so many websites out there all after your money. Where do you choose? Well, it pays to do your homework. Ask the webmaster what the average enquiry and conversion rates are. Ask them where they advertise their site and how much they have in their advertising budget. Also, ask around. If you know of people who rent out their house, ask them where they get the best returns. Post a message on one of the local ex-pat message boards and ask people for their advice.
Also it is important to mix and match where you advertise. Combine global sites with national and location specific sites. Think about what marketeers call 'short reach' advertising. Market your property to people you know - your work colleagues, your friends, your golf club members. At Long Term Rentals in France we also place our properties on a number of free to advertise websites that charge a commission for a booking. We add in the commission to the rental price so that this does not cost us too much. We also keep a bit of a budget back to pay for short term adverts on affiliate sites.
If you would like to speak to someone about advertising your property on Long term rentals in France, you can call Iain Laverock by Email.
Long Term Rentals in France is run in partnership with Artaxa IMMO SARL - Agence Immobilière. Titulaire de la carte professionelle de transaction 2008/34/2153, Délivré par la Préfecture de Montpellier. FNAISocietaire No. 40744 M. Numéro de TVA Intracommunataire FR63504336579.