MANY people predict a turbulent year ahead for the housing market despite France’s rising popularity.
Antony Bryan, of Guyenne Immobilier in the Gironde, says it means it is crucial for sellers to have realistic asking prices.
His market - Aquitaine - has for years been one of the most popular regions for Britons buying second and first homes.
With easy air access from the UK, many families have moved into the area for lifestyle or educational benefits while maintaining work links with the UK - a trend which shows no signs of diminishing.
The Ryanair route to Bergerac on the outward journey on Friday and return London journey on Sunday is full of weekly commuters.
However, 2007 showed a considerable slowdown in the local market compared with the rate of growth in previous years - there was even a decrease in the Dordogne.
Following the property boom of recent years, things are becoming increasingly more competitive.
Mr Bryan said: “A notable factor is the strong position of the euro compared to the pound.
“A €500,000 house would have cost £338,000 in January, 2007, but would now cost around £377,000 – a rise of £39,000.”
Many sellers in the middle to upper price range are still likely to sell to a non-French purchaser (especially if using a British estate agent).
That said, the domestic market should not be ignored.
French buyers often prefer the finishing and presentation of a British-owned house.
Another trend is the rise in the domestic expat market - many Britons who purchased in recent years are looking to move on.
Whether they are downsizing or looking to move to a new area, they generally follow UK buying and selling tendencies, owning a house, on average, for less time than other Europeans.
If you are thinking of putting your property on the market, seek the advice of a local estate agent.
Ask for a realistic valuation from three or four agencies and take the average, not the highest.
One of the most important considerations is presentation.
You need to make your home stand out.
Mr Bryan says: “Do not leave small jobs unfinished and tidy up outside as well as inside before visits.
“Above all, be prepared to listen to offers.
“Take advice from your agent and other agents that you are listed with.
“Above all be realistic. There are buyers around and it is important to keep the market moving during the predicted difficult periods and to do this house prices must remain within reach.
“Compared with other western European countries France still has reasonable property prices and therefore remains a top destination and a safe investment for the international purchaser.”