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International Property Buyers Pile into France

Foreign buyers invested approximately €6 billion in French property during 2005, according to a recent report by ‘Credit Foncier’, the French mortgage specialist. This figure is up from €5.4 billion invested in 2004, and an average of €2 billion invested during the period 1994-2000.

The most important factors behind the increase in investment in recent years have been the introduction of the Euro in 2000, as well as large property price increases in the UK.

Over 90% of the investment originated from within the European Union. The largest investors were from the UK, accounting for 24% of the total. Other notable investors were from Switzerland (14%), Italy (14%), Germany (13%), and Belgium (11%).

The regions Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur (PACA), Midi-Pyrenees, Languedoc-Roussillon, Brittany, Basse-Normandie, Poitou-Charente and Aquitaine and Haut Savoie were the most popular areas.

There has also been significant investment in the Limousin by UK buyers. Over 25% of sales in La Creuse in 2005 were made by non-residents, of whom the vast majority were from the UK. Nearly 20% of purchases in PACA were made by foreign buyers.

Whilst buyers from the UK favoured properties in rural locations, those from other European countries preferred to buy on the coast. American buyers bought mainly in Paris.

The average amount spent on a property was €220,000, which compared with €170,000 for the whole of the market. Most UK buyers preferred older houses to a new home, flat or building land.

A separate report by the ‘Chambre des Notaires’ in Paris revealed that, last year, 8% (or 2,538) of all purchases in the city were made by foreign nationals. This is twice as many as 10 years ago.

Biggest buyers were the Italians, who accounted for nearly 20% of all foreign buyers, followed by the British and the Americans, each on 11%.

However, whilst the Europeans were, in general, happy to buy in the outer 15ème and 18ème ‘arrondissments’ the Americans preferred the comfort of the 6ème.

There are over five million second homes in France, an increase of nearly two million since 1999. This represents 16% of all homes in the country.

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