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Jul. 3, 2014

Purchasing Castles

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

The saying ”a man’s home is his castle” used to mean a person has certain rights and immunities in his own place of residence. Nowadays, however, some are taking this maxim literally. Famous actors, powerful CEOs, real estate tycoons, wealthy politicians or just people with a little more money set aside are now buying historic castles.

In the past, having a castle meant your enemies couldn’t get to you. It meant you were safe. It meant you had the power to rule over and hold on to your lands. But what use would it have in this day and age, when there are no more Viking raiders or Mongol hordes? Nowadays, castles may not offer protection against invading armies, but they can protect you from something far more wicked: an economic crisis.

The financial crisis of the previous decade hit the real estate market hard. But a medieval castle is not like an apartment or a house. During an economic crisis, the values of most modern properties tend to drop, as buyers choose to hold on to their money. As demand decreases and the number of properties on the market keeps growing, sellers have no choice but to lower their asking prices. Castles, on the other hand, are just like an old and rare bottle of wine. Their value increases with each passing year. Also, there is only a limited number of such properties in the whole world. Therefore, purchasing a castle turns out to be a pretty good investment.

Most historic castles are located in Europe and tend to be located in beautiful areas, which adds to their value. The price of castles can range from several tens of thousands of dollars to tens of millions.

The level of restoration also influences the price of a castle. A property in desperate need of renovation will be more affordable. Although it will require additional investment if you wish to live there or to sell it later and make a profit.

In what is fast becoming a popular story on the Internet, a couple from Australia is working hard to rescue a French chateau from ruin. Karina and Craig Waters purchased the Chateau de Gudanes last year. Located in the Midi-Pyrenees region of southern France, the property was originally built in the 1700s by Louis Gaspard de Sales, Marquis de Gudanes, Baron of Chateau Verdun and Aston, also known as the King of the Pyrenees. It was designed by the prominent French architect, Ange-Jacque Gabriel.

The Waters family was looking to buy a home in France when they saw the old ruin and immediately fell in love with it. They purchased the landmark and, after months of battling the French authorities, they started work on its renovation last October. The two have even put together a blog, www.chateaugudanes.com, to document the revival of the 94-room historic building.

”The consolidation of the chateau continues to progress. I have explored nearly every nook and cranny. And true to form, it has unveiled itself with more surprises and intricate detail. Painted beams and flooring, large open attic spaces, windows with wrought iron detail and decorative fireplaces are a delight to discover,” Karina Waters wrote on her blog. You can find more pictures of the chateau’s restoration on its facebook page or on instagram.

Many people dream of having their own castle. It requires money, time and a lot of passion but, if you really want to invest in luxury real estate, this is the best way to do it. It’s cheaper than an apartment in Manhattan anyway.

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