Why 2016 is perfect time to buy into French dream

The president of France’s largest federation of estate agents, Jean-François Buet, tells Connexion why 2016 is set to be so special for house hunters from Britain

1 January 2016

A combination of a favourable exchange rate, low property prices, and low interest rates will make 2016 the ideal time for Britons to turn the dream of owning property in France into a reality, according to the head of France’s biggest federation of estate agents.

Prices for none-new apartments and houses in cities and in the countryside have fallen by an average 3% compared to a year ago.

This has prompted a jump in the number of inquiries from those looking to escape the rat-race in the UK in favour of a more relaxed life on this side of the Channel.

The president of France’s largest federation of estate agents, the Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier (FNAIM), Jean-François Buet, said: “Conditions are good and borrowing rates are favourable.

“If you buy in the mountains like Val d’Isère, for example, you will always have one of the most beautiful places to live in the world, with guaranteed snow; if you buy at Saint-Jean-de-Luz or in the Landes, you’re guaranteed a gentle, warm climate; if you buy in the Vaucluse or Provence, you have the sort of weather even the French look for, along with the quality of life.”

He said that it was unusual for British property hunters to enjoy so many advantages simultaneously.

As well as falling house prices, French fixed-rate mortgages were being offered at rates as low as 2.5%, while the sterling to euro rate was €1.39, up from €1.20 at the beginning of 2014.

Mr Buet said: “The only real negative that we have in this country at the moment is unemployment – but if you are retiring and have a house with character or that has tourist appeal, you will be less concerned.”

Mr Buet said that it was possible to pick up a bargain pied à terre almost anywhere in the country.

While there was inexpensive property to be found in the Cher, Indre and parts of Vienne, even areas that had seen consistent interest from Britons and were traditionally more expensive, like Périgord, had also seen drops in prices.

“If you’re looking to buy a large and inexpensive characterful property for less money, you can find bargains in the rural areas of Clermont right now,” he said.

“Prices in Luberon in Provence have fallen a little but it is still expensive, but neighbouring Drôme is more attractive,” he added.

Some towns in France have bucked the declining trend in house prices. Older apartments in Montpellier, Poitiers, Besançon and across Corsica rose by between 1.8% and 13.7%. Older houses in Montauban, Angers Amiens and Bordeaux rose by between 4% and 18.1%, indicating they are the current hotspots for buyers.

Prices in Paris and the Ile-de-France, Lille, Dijon, and Lyon were consistently down for both homes and apartments.

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