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French Property Buyers Survey

Friday 01 May 2009

The present global financial crisis does not seem to be having a significant impact on the outlook of recent international buyers of French property.

On the contrary, according to a recent survey carried out by French bank BNP Paribas, there remains strong confidence in the French housing market, with over 90% of buyers from overseas who bought property in France in the last three years who consider the property a good medium to long term investment.

There also seem as many who intend to invest further in the French property, as those who propose to sell.

BNP Paribas surveyed 220 international buyers who had purchased a property in France since 2006, around a quarter of whom came from the United Kingdom.

They found that 73% of buyers had no intention of selling up in the foreseeable future, with only 9% certain to sell and 19% undecided about the future.

Around one third of those interviewed expressed further interest in investing in French property again in the future.

Whilst some caution is needed with interpretation of the survey, the results do contrast somewhat with the view that has been expressed in certain newspapers, that some kind of mass exodus is taking place from France.

Indeed, the evidence from our own site suggests that, whilst those seeking to return to the UK may well be currently higher than normal, the popularity of relocating to France appears to be increasing over relocation to Spain or Eastern Europe. With many unable to sell in the UK, people are also choosing to relocate to France to live in rental accommodation, whilst they let out their UK property.

The survey also confirmed what many previous surveys of French property buyers have also shown, that it was the appeal of the laid back lifestyle in France that was the main reason for buying property in France.

The greatest hesitation amongst buyers had been concern that they might not buy wisely, alongside worries about ‘red tape’. However, there seemed general confidence in the legal process, with only 11% concerned about the security of the transaction.

45,000 Buyers in 2007

According to separate figures obtained from the French notaires for the BNP survey, 43,971 international buyers purchased property in France in 2007, down by only 5% from that of 2006, but still substantially higher than the 35,133 who purchased in France in 2005. No figures are yet available for 2008, but they are expected to be down on those for 2007.

The same source also shows the average purchase price of property paid by these same buyers in 2007 was €258,097, an increase of some 23% on the average figure of €209,904 for 2006, which itself was significantly up on that for 2005.

Amongst the BNP respondents, it is perhaps no surprise that it was the regions in southern France that attracted most buyers. Around 25% of them bought in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, 18% in Languedoc-Roussillon, with the south west of France accounting for 15% of purchases. The Rhone Alps department was also popular, accounting for 16% of all purchases, whilst 15% bought in Paris.

Around three quarters of the properties purchased in 2007 were older homes, although a surprising 41% were apartments. Only 11% decided to buy land, with the remaining 48% buying a house. The high number of apartment purchases probably reflects the international flavour of the BNP survey, only one quarter of whom were from the UK.

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