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Property Market

Foreign Buyers and Sellers in 2016

Friday 06 January 2017

The notaires have recently published a glimpse of the foreign buyers and sellers of property in France in 2016.

In their recent review of the property market for the third quarter of 2016, the Notaires de France confirm the increase in the volume of sales in the year, rising by over 11% on sales in 2015.

Final year-end figures will not be available until next spring, but based on sales to the end of September, and preliminary contracts signed in the final quarter, the notaires estimate total sales will be around 830,000.

Alongside the increase in sales the notaires report an average house price increase of 2% in the year to 30th September, although once again final figures will not be available until 2017, and there remain wide variations across the country.

Amongst the analysis provided in the report was a snapshot on the transactions by foreign buyers and sellers, both residents and non-residents of France.

The graphic below shows the percentage level of purchases by foreign buyers, confirming that, whilst in most areas of France they account for less than 5% of all sales, in some parts of the country they are 15%+ of total sales.

In total, 4.6% of total sales last year were to foreign nationals, down slightly from 2015, when the figure was 4.8%. However, as there was a substantial increase in the total volume of sales last year it is too early to say that sales to foreign nationals were lower than in 2015.

There are no figures for the Paris and the wider Ile-de-France, where there is likely to be continuing strong foreign buyer interest.

Outside of the Paris region the graphic confirms those departments that continue to attract foreign buyers interest are the usual suspects, with central-south-west of France remaining the dominant region.

Highest percentage foreign sales in this region (shown in black) were in the departments of Creuse, Charente, Dordogne, Lot, Lot-et-Garonne and the Gers.

Elsewhere the departments of Aude, Hautes-Alpes and Alpes Maritimes continued to capture strong foreign interest.

In comparison with 2015, some notable differences have been an increase in the popularity of the Lot-et-Garonne, Gers (Gascony), and to a lesser extent the departments of Orne and Mayenne in Normandy. In all of these departments prices have fallen significantly in recent years.

The Hautes-Alpes continues to be popular with international buyers seeking a second home for winter holidays, and the Alpes Maritimes, on the border with Italy, has always been popular with Italian, as well as British, buyers.


But, of course, buyers generally later become sellers, so it is not surprising to see that in many of these same areas international property owners account for a large proportion of the sales.

The graphic shows the percentage level of international sellers of existing older property in each department of France, excluding the Ile-de-France, using the same legend as for the buyers graphic above.

As can be seen, most sales from international owners occurred in Dordogne, Lot, Alpes Maritimes and Hautes-Alpes.

Overall, 3.5% of total sales were by foreign nationals, against 3.9% in 2015.

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