French Property Market Trends for 2009

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According to Brice Bonato, Managing Director of Sextant French Property Agents, the French property market looks set for an interesting 2009, due to a mixture of further price reductions, cut in interest rates and a good deal of properties on offers, both in resale and new build in France markets.

According to Brice Bonato, Managing Director of Sextant French Property Agents, the French property market looks set for an interesting 2009, due to a mixture of further price reductions, cut in interest rates and a good deal of properties on offers, both in resale and French new build markets.

Although most of the people here in the UK looking to purchase a property in France seem to be "waiting to see what will happen", especially with the current state of the Sterling, others are actively looking and negotiating very good deals. In fact, some have realised that given the combination of price reductions and lower offers being accepted, prices of most properties on the French market have remained stable in sterling terms - the 25% fall in the pound's value that occurred over the past year has put many potential purchasers off; which is easily understandable.

Indeed, the current situation favours purchasers rather than vendors, and most are accepting offers that would have seemed comical just a few months ago. Everybody is in agreement that the first six months of 2009 should remain a buyer's market and as such be an excellent time to property for sale in France. Then it would not be surprising to see prices go up again, and then, as a consequence, the return of mass purchasers; the best deals will be gone by then as vendors won't be in a position where they have to agree to low offers.

Property for sale in Brittany
In the Cotes d'Armor department of Brittany, which has always been the most popular market with British expatriates, not only for its historical connection with the British isles, but also because of its long-established transport links with the UK, the average cost for a house is now 161 540 €; even though Brits purchased less properties in this corner of France over the last year than previously due to the economic downturn, they still represented 25% of buyers in the first part of 2008. Areas further afield like Loudeac or Carhaix Plouguer remain favourites as prices are considerably cheaper than resorts closer to the sea like Saint Malo for example; it is not unusual to see habitable properties go under 50,000€ in traditional little villages such as these.

property for sale in Aquitaine
In the Dordogne, also a popular destination for property hunters from the UK, the average cost for a house is now 150 100 €; the credit crisis is now having a dramatic impact on the prices of properties that have, in the past, been popular with British buyers, especially the higher value and stone houses properties that are at reduced prices as owners are conveying a willingness to accept much lower offers. In the North of the department, in hamlets like Nontron or small villages such as La Coquille, prices remain really cheaper than the area surrounding Bergerac (where one would find the international airport) and guaranteed bargains are to be made by people with a good knowledge of the market.

property for sale in Limousin
In the Limousin, which remains the cheapest place in France for someone looking to purchase a property, the average cost for a house is now 92 200 €; the Creuse department remains the cheapest of all with a 2-bedroom house costing an average 68 600 €. Prices are expected to drop a further 5% to 10% in the course of 2009, but nobody really expects it to go below this as prices are already very low. On top of that, the opening of the new airport in Brive la Gaillarde (expected soon) should see prices in the Correze department increase, especially in the villages that could be reached in less than 1 hour from the international airport.

property for sale in Languedoc
In the Languedoc region, the favourite place for brits looking for the sun, alongside the French food, wine and way of living, the average cost of a house is now 209 500 €; the Aude department, popular with people looking around Carcassonne and Perpignan, or generally close to the sea, remains the cheapest with a 2-bedroom house costing an average 157 900 € - the Gard and Herault departments, most popular with people looking for a Provence-style move, are very close in prices, with the average cost for a house being respectively 231,500 € and 232 000 € - prices in this region are expected to drop a further 5% to 10% over the next year but most properties are having their prices reduced and owners seem content to accept much lower offers in this corner of France also.

property for sale in Normandy
Finally, in the Normandy region, also a traditional destination for property hunters from the UK due to the proximity to England, the average cost for a house is now 156 800 €; prices have decreased during 2008 and are expected to stabilize next year.

As a conclusion, the uncertainty in Britain in particular and in the world in general may encourage people to buy a property in France. Indeed, compared with the other overseas markets, France offers a very protective purchasing system and low capital gain tax, and is a long standing tried and tested market without the various risks that some of the emerging markets offer. And, in today's current climate, safety is priceless.

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Matthieu Cany

Brice Bonato
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