French property market beats expectations

Prices for apartments are rising faster than prices for houses, Notaires de France has revealed

Notaires recorded more than 900,000 property sales in the 12 months to May, as buyers make most of competitive prices and low mortgage rates

More than 900,000 properties changed hands in France in the past year, as buyers took advantage of low prices and easy borrowing terms.

Notaires de France recorded 907,000 property transactions in the 12 months from May 2016, noticeably higher than the 824,000 sales of the same period the previous year - and higher than expectations. It had earlier estimated the period would see some 880,000 sales.

The rise in demand - as househunters take make the most of a buyers' market - has seen property prices rise, though notaires pointed out marked differences across the regions. The biggest price increase was in Bordeaux, where demand for older flats has seen prices per metre-square jump 15.5% year-on-year, thanks in part to the new high-speed rail link to Paris cutting journey times to just over two hours.

Nimes, meanwhile, saw prices per metre-square jumps of 11.1%, Lille 8.5% and Paris 5.5%.

Experts insist this is no property bubble, as they say 90% of purchases are by people looking to buy to live rather than to let. Conversely, Clermont-Ferrand (-9.4%), Amiens (-5.4%) and Rouen and Metz (-4.7%) showed the biggest falls.

Notaires de France said that house prices would be expected to show a year-on-year increase of 1.2% by the end of August, while the average cost of buying an apartment was set to jump 4%.

They did warn that expected tax reforms, may slow the momentum, particularly in the new-build sector, which is heavily reliant on tax incentives.

  • We will take a closer look at the state of the property market across the regions in France in August's edition of Connexion, which will be on sale in newsagents across the country from next Friday.
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