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Brits Top List of Second Home Owners in France

Tuesday 03 June 2008

British buyers continue to dominate the list of international owners of French property, accounting for around one third of all foreign owned second homes in France, according to a recent French Government study.

The study showed that there were 2.9 million second homes in France, around 10% of the total housing stock.

The vast majority are actually owned by the French, who own 2.6 million second homes.

There are around 300,000 foreign owners of second homes, a figure that has increased by 50% since 1997.

British buyers own 28% of all foreign owned second homes. They were followed by Italians (14%), Belgians (10%), Dutch (8%), Spanish (3%) and Americans (3%).

However, in recent years it is buyers from Ireland who have shown the keenest interest in a second home in France, with growth of 86% in their number since 2001, although still a small percentage of total foreign owners. They were followed by those from UK, with a growth of 29%. By contrast there has been a drop in the number of German (-5%) and Swiss (-7%) buyers.

Not surprisingly, the highest concentration of second homes by foreign nationals is on the Mediterranean coast, with the majority located in the Alpes Maritimes (17%) and Var (9%). They were followed by Paris (7%) and the ski stations in the Haute Savoie (5%).

Over the past ten years it is the Alps Maritimes that continues to remain the most popular place to buy a second home, followed by the rural hinterland of the West, in a line south from Brittany to Gascony.

Indeed, the purchase of rural properties has shown a growth of 45% since 2001, and now accounts for 37% of all foreign national second homes. Coastal properties account for 39% of such properties.

Paris attracts fewer buyers from Europe, with only 3% of second homes owned by Europeans. In the main, the market is dominated by buyers from the USA and Canada (24%), South America (35%), the Middle East and Asia (22%) and Africa (20%).

The study showed that foreign buyers prefer older or newer homes, with around half owning a second home built before 1915, and a 22% owning properties built after 1980. Very few own a property built between 1915-1989.

In recent years, the interest in the purchase of a newer home has grown, with the purchase of those homes built after 1990 growing by 15%, and those built before 1915 growing by 8%. This may well reflect the growing shortage of suitable older properties, and the increased cost and difficulty of restoration projects.

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