Cultural differences can make all the difference

Val Brown and Nick Murrall talk about letting their 2-bedroom house in Valras Plage. | Villa Valras - VAS101

Villa Valras is a 2-bedroom house on a small development that Val and Nick bought off-plan in 2004. They had previously visited the Languedoc, fell in love with the area and decided that they wanted to spend more time here. They had previously stayed in an old conversion which convinced them that they really wanted something modern, insulated and warm in the winter! They chose Valras because of its beach, the multitude of activities available and particularly the fact that it is a real town with people living in it year-round.

The house itself has a king bedroom and a twin, with the living room and kitchenette open-plan. It has  a terrace at the front which overlooks the shared pool, and a small back garden with room for a dining table and a BBQ which currently overlooks a field but which Val feels will probably soon be built on as Valras becomes even more popular. All the other houses in this Résidence except one are owned by French people and these are mainly retired owner/occupiers.


The fact that it is well heated means that the house can be let throughout the winter but Val reckons on letting an average of 17 weeks in the mid- and high-seasons. This is more than enough to cover running costs which are comparatively high as they need to pay their share of the pool. Val says they have always been lucky with the clients who have stayed in their villa but she nevertheless furnished it with ‘semi-bombproof’ furniture, just in case.  Val and Nick allow for average wear-and-tear in their budget and always provide English appliances as these seem to last longer than French ones.

Val enjoys the ‘business side’ of the villa and regularly compares her prices with what is being offered elsewhere. ‘The challenge is to know which weeks will sell easily and to tread a fine line between realising maximum profit or pricing yourself out of the market

It’s very important to have a good, reliable agent like SFHV’, says Val. We used to use a French agent based here in Valras but frankly, the language and the cultural differences made things quite difficult. We did a Google search in 2006 and came up with Juliana Forte and SFHV and haven’t looked back since. This is a British company that understands my expectations; they ensure the security deposit gets paid up front and that clients adhere to British Terms and Conditions. Juliana and Jake’ (who looks after SFHV’s managed properties) ‘are great. I’m really happy with the service’.