Rural house prices boost, €12,000 homes: five French property updates

Plus Matisse’s former flat up for sale, France’s rent cap extended and food waste bins mandatory in flats from next year

This week’s property wrap includes Matisse’s former flat being put on the market, the view from which you can bottom left in this image
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1. Property prices see a sharp increase in some rural areas of France

Despite much talk over falling property prices in France, the average cost of a rural house has increased by 6% since 2021 (and 15.3% since 2020), according to a study by rural estate agent group Safer.

The average price of a rural property was €211,000 in 2022.

The increases, however, are not universal and are more pronounced in properties such as ‘character homes’ and manor houses.

“For standard properties, where buyers have more difficulty accessing credit, prices are stabilising or even falling,” says the report.

The most expensive departments for buying a rural property are Bouches-du-Rhône, with an average price of €622,000 followed by the Alpes-Maritimes (€507,000).

Rounding out the top three most expensive locations is the Var (€492,000), showing that the French Riviera continues to possess considerable pulling power with potential buyers.

On the other end of the scale, the cheapest property prices could be found in the more rural areas of France: Creuse (€70,600), Indre (€83,000) and Haute-Marne (€92,000) saw the lowest figures.

The percentage increase of property prices also changed drastically on a departmental basis, with Hautes-Alpes seeing prices rise more than double that of any other department.

Below is a list of the top ten largest increases, by department, over the last 12 months:

· Hautes-Alpes (58.6%)

· Var (25.5%)

· Alpes-Maritimes (23.1%)

· Bouches-du-Rhône (18.7%)

· Ariège (18%)

· Meuse (16.2%)

· Lozère (13%)

· Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (12.5%)

· Haute-Vienne (12%)

· Marne (10.4%)

The increased difficulty in accessing a mortgage is also changing rural house sales: buyers are in general older (45.5 years old), and overall house sales were down 12% compared to the year before.

The “drying up of the supply of country homes in attractive regions”, also contributed to the price changes, said the report.

One other note of interest from the study – British buyers represented 4.6% of rural house purchases in the preceding year, one percent higher than the year before.

In areas such as Poitou, Orne, and the Provençal hinterlands, the share of British buyers can reach up to 15%.

Read also: Quarterly property prices in France ‘fall for first time since 2015’

2. Wooden houses costing just €12,000 for sale in Brittany

A new communal housing development in the village of Saint-André-des-Eaux, Brittany is selling houses for as little as €12,000.

The development, situated in the small village in the Côtes-d’Armor department, seeks to not only tackle climate change but also reduce the cost of living and help local authorities provide housing.

The commune is renting the land to the estate’s developers at the rate of €50 per month per lot, for 80 years.

People are then invited to build their home – out of reusable material like wood or hemp – on the plot, with most properties costing between €12,000 and €15,000 overall, and providing an average floor space of 20m².

The use of recycled materials (such as window panes) and renewable energy sources (such as solar panels) is also encouraged.

The area also hosts common spaces such as a laundry room, guest rooms; and a hall for parties and events.

The mayor of the village has lauded the improvements to the area brought about by the development.

“It hasn't cost the local authority anything in terms of servicing or roads. We receive a rent of €5,000 a year… What's more, we've kept two beautiful oak embankments that would have had to be razed to the ground if we'd built an ordinary housing estate as planned,” said Jean-Louis Nogues.

A decade ago, the village had 270 residents, and in part thanks to the development, there are “almost 400 today,” added the mayor, with the added bonus that the village’s “café and the grocery shop are up and running again.”

Read also: ‘We built a €120,000 eco-house for a thrifty retirement in France’

3. Former flat of French artist Matisse for sale in Nice

The Niçois apartment where renowned artist Henri Matisse lived for around 10 years is up for sale.

The 165m² property, which includes views of both the city of Nice and its Mediterranean coastline, is available to purchase for €2.5 million.

After relocating to the south, the painter lived in the property between 1918 and 1943 (leaving the city during the Second World War), before returning again in 1948 and remaining there until his death.

Alongside a number of paintings, the property is where Matisse also produced his famous ‘cut-out’ artwork pieces in the final years of his life.

The five-room property was renovated around ten years ago by the owners and also includes a library.

The flat is found in the ‘La Regina’ building in Cimiez (an upmarket quarter of Nice) and is a former luxury hotel from the Belle Epoque era once frequented by Queen Victoria during her winter holidays.

The building also has a tennis court, swimming pool, and private gardens.

The property is being sold by Sotheby’s Côte d’Azur team, and you can find the listing online here.

4. Separate food waste bins mandatory for flats from January 2024

Laws that require houses in Frances to install a separate food waste bin will be extended to all properties by December 31, 2023 – including flats.

Flat owners will need to be provided with a way of sorting out compost waste from other recyclable and normal waste.

It will be the responsibility of local authorities, and not individual residents, to implement solutions, however.

The objective is to re-use the bio-waste produced by households (food peelings, leftovers, unused food, etc), and divert this towards a ‘circular economy’ where it can be productively repurposed.

Some estimates say as much as 33% of waste in a normal bin could be classified as bio-waste, which can be converted into compost (for heating and growing food) or into biogas instead of being sent to landfills or incinerators.

Options could include providing every household or flat in larger buildings with their own compact compost bin, or installing larger communal compost areas (similar to those for glass and cardboard) and providing residents with compostable bin bags to collect waste in their homes.

In shared buildings, the installation of a communal bin (and its location) will need to be voted on at a general meeting.

Failure to effectively categorise waste correctly (i.e. placing the correct waste in the correct bins) could be punishable with a class two fine (€35 to €150).

This will be levied on the property co-ownership and not individual offenders for those living in public buildings, however.

Read also: Environment news round up in France this May

5. MPs vote to extend rent cap to 2024

The 3.5% cap on rent increases is expected to extend to the beginning of 2024, after MPs passed an emergency vote on the matter on Wednesday (May 31) evening.

The cap was initially implemented in the summer of 2022 and was set to last until June 30 this year, but the vote will see it locked in place for an additional six months.

It means in effect that rents cannot rise higher than 3.5% of last summer’s rates.

A similar scheme also capping commercial rents for SMEs in France was also extended.

There was an “urgent need” to extend the rent shield or France risked seeing rents “soar by more than 6% from July,” said Thomas Cazenave, the centrist MP who brought the motion forward.

Against a backdrop of high inflation, the emergency motion was put forward to the National Assembly (France’s lower house), with 259 voting in favour and 93 against.

MPs from the right-wing Les Républicains and far-right Rassemblement National parties criticised the motion’s limitations but ultimately voted in its favour.

Left-wing MPs voted against the motion, saying that rents should not be temporarily capped but “frozen” altogether and that the shield will simply delay an inevitable soaring of rent costs.

Mr Cazenave however said a rent freeze would be “impossible” and “unconstitutional”.

The motion will now go to the Senate and should be passed before the end of the month.

Read also: France first as ex-jail set to transform into student accommodation

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