Demand from overseas buyers for French property is growing ever stronger, with the latest Investing & Living Abroad report from BNP Paribas revealing that Britons buy more properties in France than any other nationality. Some 13,823 properties were sold to non-resident buyers in 2014, an increase of just 1.5% from the previous year. However, non-resident British buyers accounted for 32% of those sales, representing a 33% year-on-year increase. Sales to resident British buyers also increased significantly,
rising by 22%.
According to BNP Paribas, there has been a 53% increase in transactions in the first five months of the year compared with the same period in 2014, with British buyers accounting for 75% of the increase, and they are confident that the remainder of the year will continue in the same way.
Rhône-Alpes, Poitou-Charentes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur were the three most popular regions with non-resident British buyers, while regions where Britons are at the top of the three most represented nationalities are Brittany, Lower Normandy, Pays de la Loire, Limousin, Centre, Aquitaine, Midi-Pyrénées, Poitou-Charentes, Languedoc-Roussillon and Rhône-Alpes.
Paris and the Côte d’Azur are the regions where British buyers have the biggest budgets, paying an average of €710,000 in Paris and €589,000 on the Côte d’Azur.
Reports from other industry specialists back up these findings – in the first five months of this year, foreign currency specialist Moneycorp saw a 23% increase in clients using their services in order to buy a property in France, compared with the same period in 2014.
Commenting on the enduring popularity of France, Mark Harvey of Knight Frank says, ‘the romance, culture and lifestyle continue to enchant and fuel the love affair, while the weaker euro, record low-interest rates, improving economic news, relatively benign tax environment and softer property prices combine to make French residential property a compelling alternative to other asset classes.’
Areas that are performing particularly well at present include Méribel and Chamonix in the Alps and the Côte d’Azur, he says, while ‘for the purists, Luberon/Alpilles [in Provence] offer long-term stability and Gascony is still comparatively cheap at present’.
Rob Govier of Lockett Estates points to the ‘beautiful countryside, stylish resorts and easy access by road, rail and air’ as reasons why France remains a favourite with Brits, adding that ‘now is a great time to buy as property values are well below their peak, and with the extremely favourable sterling to euro exchange rates, it is literally having the effect of knocking thousands of euros off any purchase price.’
His top tip for househunters looking to buy in France, particularly those looking to move there on a permanent basis, is to ‘learn the language, as it makes life in France so much easier’, while Mark Harvey advises ‘take your time, do your research and use a reputable international agent who can offer value and invaluable advice at the early stages of the search.’