Our relationship with the Alps began in 1932. That’s when Erna Low, the founder of our parent company, took her first English clients on a ski holiday. With a brief interruption during the Second World War, Erna Low Travel has been running ski holidays ever since.
Over the years, the French Alps became a speciality, so expanding into the French ski property market in 2003 was an obvious move – and Erna Low Property is the result. We’re a French company, and a member of FNAIM (France’s National Federation of Estate Agencies), and we have offices in the Alpine resort of Arc 1950 as well as South Kensington in London. As a result, we’re able to offer our clients a level of security, expertise and service which is rare in
Many of our clients apply for a Euro mortgage from a French bank to fund their purchases. Rather than recommending a single, one-size-fits-all mortgage broker to assist, we tailor our suggestions to the circumstances of the client the modern era of one-man companies and unsupported internet listings.
It starts with our French public liability insurance. This is only available to licensed estate agencies in France that have a Carte Professionnelle de Transaction: and it protects our clients against problems such as mis-selling or badly-drafted contracts.
Meanwhile, Erna Low Travel is ready to book ATOL-protected flights, transfers and accommodation whenever clients want to visit the Alps for viewings. You’ll find the same levels of service during the purchasing process. For example, many of our clients apply for a Euro mortgage from a French bank to fund their purchases.
Rather than recommending a single, one-size-fits-all mortgage broker to assist, we tailor our suggestions to the circumstances of the client, depending on whether their application is straightforward or is based on several sources of income.
The next step is to assist our clients in their dealings with the public notaries. These French officials are appointed by the Minister of Justice and they make sure property purchases are both legal and properly conducted. In new-build projects they’re usually chosen by the property developers. But they don’t always speak good English, so we arrange for a second notary who does, to participate in a process known as a double minute. This ensures that our clients understand what’s going on at every stage of purchase – from the payment of the first deposit to signing the final deeds of sale.
We also make sure our buyers are properly advised when it comes to currency exchange. It’s surprising how many assume there’s no need for the services of a foreign exchange specialist when buying a single ski apartment. Yet on the purchase of a €300,000 property with a €150,000 mortgage and a 50% deposit, a well-timed exchange of currency can save a client several thousand pounds.
Other services include recommending French accountants for our clients’ tax returns and helping them sort through their mail once their purchase is complete. This might include minutes from the AGM of their property’s management company or unsolicited offers from insurers, which are often written in French. So we’ll ask them to scan the letters and send them through, and we’ll tell them what needs attention, and what doesn’t.
Recently, we’ve also begun working with Chalet Shop, a furnishing service for mountain property owners. Of course, not everyone needs to equip their new homes: if they’re part of a leaseback scheme, they usually come fully furnished. But several of our clients who’ve bought on a classic freehold basis have loved receiving every last item of furniture and equipment in a single delivery – with pictures hung and beds made by an experienced team of dressers.
Finally – and importantly – everyone at Erna Low Property loves to ski. Most have lived and/or worked in the French Alps too. In other words, we know the region inside out, and we’ll do our utmost to smooth each client’s path to a home-owning future there.
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9 Reece Mews, London
SW7 3HE, UK
Les Arcs Immobilier, Jardins de la cascade, Arc 1950 le Village, 73700 Bourg-St-Maurice, France