Britons no longer the biggest group of foreign homebuyers in France

In 2015, Britons made 35% of all property purchases in France by foreign non-residents. Now, at 17%, Britons are second behind Belgians

Britons no longer take top spot in foreign property ownership in France
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Britons are no longer the largest foreign group buying property in France, newly-published data has revealed.

Information from the Notaires de France – which compiles all of the data of non new-build property sales in France – shows Beglians are now the biggest group of foreign non-residents purchasing homes.

The data shows Britons were in the top spot between at least 2012 to 2020, before falling to second place.

The drop in Britons purchasing in 2021 – after a similar drop in 2016 – was attributed by notaires as a knock-on effect of Brexit.

It is the latest sign that Britons may be turning their backs on second homes in France.

A survey we launched revealed hundreds have considered selling their French second homes due to the post-Brexit 90/180-days rule.

Another poll, published by the UK government, showed the number of Britons owning a second home in France has tumbled by more than 30,000 over the past decade.

Almost 20% drop in under ten years

Although the notaire data covers the overall state of the French housing market, a micro trend is highlighted in each quarterly release

The most recent release - which covers January 1 - March 31 sale data and preliminary figures up to July 1 - looked at the last 10 years of property sales among non-French buyers.

“After peaking in 2015 at 2% [of all property transactions], the share of non-resident foreign buyers in mainland France fell almost continuously until 2020,” said the report.

The successive drops meant that by 2020 “only 1.3%” of buyers were foreign non-residents; before this number steadily increased again during Covid.

In 2022 (and the first quarter of 2023) it has stabilised to 1.8% of purchases.

In particular, the notaire information showed the percentage of property purchases by the five highest non-French nationalities – Britons, Belgians, Germans, Dutch, and Swiss.

Below, you can see a table showing the data on property purchases in France by these groups over the last ten years:

Credit: Notaires de France

Britons once dominated the list. In 2014 and 2015, more than one-third of all foreign property purchases in France were made by British people. But there were two sharp drops in 2016 and 2021.

The two largest falls in British buyers corresponded to the original vote to leave the EU and the UK’s eventual withdrawal from the bloc.

In contrast, the number of Belgians purchasing property remained stable, steadily rising to over 20% in 2020 and 2021.

With an increase in British purchasers – and drop in Belgians – in 2022 however, this trend could yet be reversed in 2023, provided Britons continue to buy.

It is uncertain, however, considering the high number of Connexion readers considering selling their second homes.

Read more: New data highlights six key trends in France’s property market

8% of purchases in Creuse made by non-French, non-resident buyers

On top of covering the nationalities of these homeowners, the notaires covered the areas in France where they purchased property.

Although only making up 1.8% of property purchases (just over 17,000 sales) in 2022, in some departments almost 10% of people buying homes were non-French people people with their main residence outside France.

In terms of French regions, 3.8% of purchases in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (notably where the popular second home department Alpes-Maritimes is) were made by non-French people – this is still lower than the all-time high of 5.2%, however.

This was followed by the Nouvelle Aquitaine, Occitanie and Bourgogne - Franche-Comté regions, where between 2% and 2.4% of property purchases were made by non-French people.

Other French regions (such as Brittany and the Pays de la Loire) saw less than 1% of purchases derive from foreigners.

There were, however, a number of departments across the country where foreign purchases were much higher than the national average.

The notaires recorded the departments where foreign buyers accounted for more than 5% of sales.

These were:

  • Creuse: 8%
  • Alpes-Maritimes: 7%
  • Ardennes: 7%
  • Dordogne: 6%
  • Nièvre: 6%
  • Charente: 6%
  • Haute-Savoie: 6%
  • Lot: 5%

A full map can be found below:

Credit: Notaires de France

Despite Creuse taking top spot, in 2019 non-French buyers made up 11% of all sales in the department, significantly higher than in 2022.

On the other hand, in Ardennes, the number has risen sharply, from only 2% in 2012 to 4% in 2019, then eventually 7% in 2022.

In the first quarter of 2023, 4.2% of property purchases in Paris were made by non-French people, but regionally this is marred by the low numbers of foreign people buying in the rest of the Île-de-France.

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