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Property buyers not attentive to natural hazards, French experts fear

Despite government measures to raise awareness of climate-related risks, people continue to buy property in vulnerable areas

Flooding, erosion and drought are still not being factored into house-buyers’ decisions, industry figures have warned Pic: Valmedia / Shutterstock

Flooding, erosion and drought are still not being factored into house-buyers’ decisions, industry figures have warned.

According to the ministry of ecological transition, more than 50,000 homes in France will be affected by coastal erosion and flooding by 2100. 

Read more: Map: The 101 French communes affected by coastal erosion

“Every five years, the cost of climate risks doubles," Pascal Demurger, CEO of insurance giant Maif, told Le Figaro.

“If we don't act, by 2050 the world will be uninsurable.”

The government is trying to raise awareness of the dangers of buying in areas of natural risk.

Since January 1, estate agencies in France have had to specify in their sale and rental adverts if a property is located in an area exposed to coastal erosion.

Sellers or landlords must also provide a report about the risks of coastal erosion to any potential buyers or tenants on the first visit to the property, and keep them up to date with any changes during the whole process of confirming the sale or rental agreement. 

Read more: Buy-to-let tips, last taxe d'habitation: Five French property updates

Notaires, too, must alert buyers to natural risks when they sign the deed of sale, and architects are also now taking action. Four years ago, the profession created a post-graduate diploma on major risks so as to know how to intervene in the event of natural disasters.

Nevertheless, it does not seem to be deterring buyers from fashionable seaside resorts.

This is despite Manche and the Normandy region recently pledging millions of euros to help with relocations.

Read more: Rising sea levels provoke exodus from northern French coastline

Frédéric Violeau, a notaire in charge of national real estate statistics for the Conseil Supérieur du Notariat, told Le Figaro: "The coast is still the place where we negotiate the least.

“We don't see any awareness of the retreat of the coastline. The buyers only see the house near the sea but not the sea that can arrive in the living room.”

According to an Opinion Way survey for the National Observatory of the Living Environment, 57% of households say global warming will impact their choice of future place to live.

However, when asked to elaborate on the type of phenomena that will affect their decisions, natural disasters (floods, drought, rising water levels) received only 12% of votes, far behind heatwaves (25%).

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