Is the French housing market recovering?

I get an email update called the French-Property Newsletter and the latest issue contains a very good analysis of the housing prices around the country.

I think there has been something of a glut of properties coming available in recent years, which certainly hasn't helped the market; in part, I believe this has been due to the changes in property taxation laws in latter years, in particular, the much stricter capital gains tax regulations; many people decided to divest themselves of dormant properties quickly before the new regulations came in, and as a result found themselves cutting the prices, which was not good for the market! Plus as the economic crisis has bitten, there has been stiffer-than-ever competition in the 'new build' sector, so many French people (always more acutely aware of the high cost of renovation) have chosen to build from scratch.
In my view, this has had quite far-reaching effects on the property market, both in terms of French and foreign buyers.
For property prices across France, the definitive site ought to be the notaires — I think it is the Chambre de Notaires de Paris who host the national database of prices, on the basis of sales actually completed. The basis for calculation is pretty limited, but it does give you a good guide to the prices actually being achieved, updated very frequently. The notaires also publish interesting statistics about trends in prices etc.
In my own area of Limousin, which has become popular with Brits over the last 15 years or so (when I first came here, there weren't that many around!), there has been some downards pressure on prices, and in some villages there are a horrifyingly large number of houses up for sale, which tend not to move until the owner finally accepts a much lower price — one property originally on the market for €80k finally sold recently for €45k! Or of course, if an elderly owner with a sadly unrealistic sense of the value of the dilapidated old house to which they are so emotionally attached dies, then their heirs will hurry to cash-in their inheritance and sell it off at any price! It's very much the reflection of a difference in attitude between the generatons.

Prices are rock bottom in this area at the moment Simon. Bargains are to be had even in and close to Limoges which makes properties like mine twenty minutes away almost unsellable.

I fear you are correct about the 2017 referendum though we were saying the same thing pre-Hollande's election victory...

Yes, in the sense that vendors are reluctantly agreeing to lower their prices (after holding out for 4 or so years) and buyers have no scuples in making offers way below the asking price. I'm refering to 'lifetsyle properties' in the country, of course, not city prices which continue to climb.

Interest rates have little or no influence on price movement: the banks won't lend more than 50% for lifestyle properties.

There are more UK buyers in the market than last year but they are wary of a falling market and insist on viewing hundreds of properties, intent on finding that 'dream' property. French and Swiss buyers are much more pragmatic: "how much do the gites bring in?" "Where are the local schools?" instead of the Brits "Is there a café in the village?"

Both buyers and sellers have become more aware of agents' commissions. We charge just 3% for most properties which makes a difference when you're buying a €600k property.

Sites which purport to give exact prices for property are great for apartments in Montpellier or Toulouse; practically useless for an old farmhouse in deepest Gers.

The real change in the market will only come after the UK referendum and the French elections in 2017.

Parole d'un agent immobiler!

As a Chartered Surveyor and after 10 years here providing pre purchase surveys I have seen more activity in the market over the last 12 months, accelerating this year with the effect I believe being due to the pound/euro exchange rate.

Prices however remain static - mainly due to the large number of properties available.

I have several friends who have been here a similar period of time and sold the property they bought 10 years ago for the same price!

My OH says yes, there is movement but prices are not budging. The trend seems to be more French deciding to invest in property than before, taking advantage of the present prices and hoping (not expecting) they will go up sometime, thus justifying the investment. In this part of France, Chinese and Russian investors have created an impression of some kind of boom in multimillion Euro properties. At higher prices there has been a mini boom but that is apparently cooling off. As she said, to be ignored all round unless wishing to spend millions. As for the price guides, she is sceptical because most prices are ideal ones that often drop at some point in time. There are often incredible differences between agencies. One she competes with set prices far too high that do not negotiate downward easily, however they insist on exclusive mandates, so no other agency can undercut. The answer, extrapolating and digesting this question with her over lunch, is probably more like David's suggestion that (the foreigner anyway) buys a dream. There are also exceptions. So no actual answer.

Modification Dave....

But clarify the underlying thoughts behind "stone tent"...please do.

Without dreams we are just Surviving France! Survival is just the beginning and
then we move on to learn....not just from a book or statistics.

Barbara I bought a stone tent thirty-five years ago. It's now a larger tent with underfloor heating et tout confort.

Nice one Barbara.

hey Dave.....what sort of dream did you buy?

Did any one tell you that dreams come true?

You can try this too


There are many, here is one. Just tap inthe place or post code

On property, is there a French site to check property prices?

Yeah right Babs. Frankly James you buy here you buy a dream. It has always been the case with the exception

of the ultra expensive Côte d'Azur

I was told by an international estate company that thre is a mini boom.

Draw your conclusions.

But it would be helpful.