French property prices

Buyer beware

Much as with property in the UK, French property prices DO vary according to location, region, the size of house, condition of a property, the amount of land included in a sale etc.. However, there are two other factors at work in French property prices which you need to be aware of if you are considering purchasing a property:

  • There are few - if any - market forces at work to set the asking price

So, for example, you will often find a shabby, small, terraced house for sale at a higher price than a well-renovated detached property IN THE SAME AREA. This lack of market realism is also encouraged by the glowing property description: "Set in a pretty village with local shops and bar, overlooking a picturesque etc… etc…". These descriptions often hide the truth. The village is dead. You are miles from the nearest town. And the price being asked for the property is NOT reflecting this isolation.

Indeed, the property is often being sold BECAUSE of this isolation!

  • Current asking prices (2008) are unrealistic

i: Many French people are currently trying to sell houses on the (mistaken) assumption that there is a crush of British buyers prepared to buy anything, at any price. This was indeed the case in the early years of this decade. But prices have multplied almost 10-fold since then and there is no longer a rush to buy. However, few French vendors are prepared to accept this and would often rather keep possession of a house than sell it for what they perceive to be 'a loss'.

ii: Very many of those English people who came over in the early part of the decade, bought property for incredibly low prices. A few years have now passed and - unable to find work or adapt to France - they are leaving to return to the UK. However, prices in the UK have gone on rising and they are now unable to buy there. So they are now asking, for example, 150,000€ for a property they bought for only 25,000€ just five years ago. You are paying over the odds for these houses. Beware!

  • Conclusion

In general terms now is not really a good time to buy a French property. In some cases current asking prices are inflated by as much as 75%. More generally prices are between 25% - 50% too high.

Unless you find a real gem or can argue the price down, our advice is NOT to buy until vendors start to ask a more realistic price.

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