BUYING A HOUSE IN FRANCE - HOW TO BUY FRENCH PROPERTY - HOUSE PRICES

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Crossing the bridge at Confolens, Limousin, France.
Above: Crossing the bridge at dusk: Confolens, Limousin, France.
Sunflower field, France.
Above: Field of sunflowers, Charente-Maritime, France.
Canal near Marennes, Charente-Maritime, France.
Above: Canal near Marennes, Charente-Maritime.

PROPERTY PRICE TRENDS IN FRANCE

GENERAL FACTORS INFLUENCING FRENCH HOUSE PRICES

As with most other countries, you will find that the price of properties on or near to the coast in France command a premium, and houses are generally cheaper the further inland you go.

Whilst the French property market tends to rise more slowly and steadily than its British counterpart, due to several factors - smaller population to land mass ratio, stricter lending criteria by French banks, greater incidence of renting, and the tendency of the French to view a house as something to be lived in rather than as a speculative investment - certain popular regions (largely those favoured by foreign buyers) have in recent years outstripped other regions of France by a considerable margin: see the historic data for 2006 below as an example.

LATEST HOUSE PRICES UPDATE FOR FRANCE

APRIL 2014

The prices of French holiday villas have fallen, in some areas, by as much as twenty percent - over the last five years. There is a notable exception: prices in St-Jean-de-Luz, in South West France, have reportedly risen by sixty percent!
(Scource: David Chazan, Daily Telegraph.)

More generally, FNAIM (a French estate agents association) predicts that French house prices might fall by as much as 4 percent in 2014 - after dropping 2.9 percent in 2013. Buyers are apparently being deterred by high taxes, over-regulation, and high unemployment.

So the bottom of the market may still be to come. The Eurozone's travails are far from over (not least, as the ECB is seemingly in denial over the danger of deflation).

JANUARY 2013

While France, so far, seems to have shrugged off the main effects of the global financial crisis on property prices, there is evidence that this is now changing. Last year, following President Hollande's tax rises, sales in September were down 24% on the previous year.

Standard & Poor is predicting two more years of decline in prices, with a drop of 5% in 2014. This would represent an overall decline of 11% over six years. Other sources are more pessimistic. PrimeView, a French consultancy, predicts a 40% crash.
(Source: Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Daily Telegraph.)

SEPTEMBER 2011

FNAIMS figures for house prices in France for 2010 - 2011 show a rise of 5%.

Between 2007, and 2009, property prices in France fell by 20%: according to the Sunday Telegraph.

JANUARY 2010

FNAIM reports for January 2010 that apartment prices are down -0.8% on the month, and houses show a slight price increase of +0.6% on the month.

Their year on year figures show -3.8% to end of January 2010 against -8.1% on the year ending August 2009.

AUGUST 2009:

  1. June 2009: Decrease of -1.8%
  2. July 2009: An increase of 0.4%
  3. August 2009: Decrease of -1.2%
  4. Yearly: Last 12 months a decrease of -8.9%
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HISTORIC HOUSE PRICE UPDATES

2006

According to estate agents Knight Frank property in France rose by 8.9% in the last year. FNAIM which is the French national federation of estate agents, puts the overall rise at 13.6% in 2004-2005 and 8.5% in 2005-2006. There are, however quite large regional variations, the more perennially popular regions, (like Normandy, Brittany, Province, etc), have experienced house price inflation of almost double the national average. So you will need to research the area you are interested in before you buy.

An article I read in a newspaper a few months ago suggested that price rises were tailing off and that anecdotal evidence from estate agents in France suggested that Brits, especially those buying as an investment, had not been buying houses in France in the last year, apparently deserting France to buy houses in accession countries to the EU like Macedonia.

MARCH 2007

Source: Article in the Daily Telegraph by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard.
French property construction dropped 15.1% in February and house prices dropped by 0.6% in January. Since 1995, French house prices have risen by 210%. The crisis in the sub-prime market which has caused house prices to drop in America may lead to a crash there and this could spread to Europe with France's OFCE research institute estimating that houses in France are 25% overvalued. In the light of this information, if you are looking to buy a house in France you may get a better deal by biding your time.

OCTOBER 2007

Average house prices in France are reported to have fallen by 0.9% in the third quarter of 2007.

MAY 2008

F.N.A.I.M. reports that average French house prices rose overall by 3.8% in 2007 with variations between regions ranging from 1.1% rise in Aquitaine to 7.3% in Brittany.
Their prediction for French house prices in 2008 is for a stable year with rises of no more than the current rate of inflation in France of 1.6% although with some downside risks from possible rising interest rates and the impact of higher fuel and food prices on households.
It is worth bearing in mind that with house prices currently falling dramatically in the U.S., Britain, and Spain, that this is a report by an Estate Agents' institute and may be overly optimistic. In France's favour though, is the fact that their banking establishment is generally more conservative than in the U.S.A or U.K. and unlike the bankers in those two countries, does not advance more to French house buyers than their house is worth or lend large sums to low income property purchasers who have no hope of repaying the loan on the idiotic assumption that property prices can only go up. That is not to say that French banks have no exposure to sub prime risks from America through the alphabetic spaghetti of instruments traded between banks, but of more relevance to house prices in France, French house purchasers have lower borrowing to equity ratios and therefore there should be less forced selling exerting a downward spiral on prices.

SEPT 2008

I have noticed after a trawl through some of the French Estate Agent Internet sites that there are signs that some house prices are being reduced "for a quick sale". Something you would not have found a couple of years ago. Have no statistics to prove whether this is a trend yet but will keep these pages updated when and if I do have.

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Acknowledgements: images used on the left in the text area are mainly from morguefile.com, my thanks to biberta, missyredboots, rosevita, doctor_bob, cohdra, mconners, kairily, clarita, scott. m. liddel, and anyone else from morguefile whose image appears here. All the images in the right hand column on each page have been taken by me during my various travels in France and are copyright of buyahouseinfrance.info.