Trevor Leggett, Chairman of Leggett Immobilier gives his views on the year just past and makes some predictions for the market in 2016.
Review of the French property market in 2015
“Our sales last year rose by 30% and this is because we’ve seen once in a decade buying conditions. British purchasers have benefited from a weak euro, cheap borrowing and the lowest French property prices in years. Subsequently they have been snapping up bargains all over France. In 2014 sales to UK buyers made up 70% of our business, last year this rose to 77%.
To expand on this, we sold around 1,100 properties in 2015 which is three times the amount we sold in 2013”.
What kind of person was buying in France? “We saw the average age of our buyers remain at 53 and the bulk of our buyers were people approaching, or at, retirement age. We know that France always comes out on top of the “quality of life” surveys and it has one of the world’s best healthcare systems so it’s no surprise many people want to spend their golden years here.
However, we also saw a significant number of young professionals and families snapping up bargains, we saw a rise in the 40-50 age group with many families looking to take advantage of the excellent education system and a less stressful way of life”.
Where were they buying? “SW France was exceptionally popular but our records show increased sales in all regions. In fact we saw the biggest increase in buyer numbers along the south coast in Languedoc Roussillon and PACA.
We didn’t see any significant changes in average spend but we did see quite a big jump (around 25%) in buyers seeking a mortgage for their purchase. This leads us to believe that buyers have confidence in the French market and the prospects of long term capital growth – with fixed rate French mortgages starting from 2.15% buyers see an opportunity to purchase property that they couldn’t afford in the UK.
French Property Forecast 2016
What do we expect to see in 2016? “More of the same. Property prices in France look to have bottomed out and we expect them to stay flat next year with rises coming about in 2017.
Experts predict that the pound will remain strong and that mortgage rates will stay at record low levels.
The real story though is that certain types of property are being sold as soon as they come to market….and that’s something we haven’t experienced since 2007. We’re seeing a shortage in supply of well located property that is sensibly priced and we’re aware that the stock of really good property coming onto the market is dwindling”.
Which areas will do well in 2016? “We’d look at areas which are traditionally popular with buyers from the UK, USA, Australia or Asia. Having a steady influx of international buyers can have a positive effect on local economies, particularly in rural areas. This year we’ve made most sales in the Limousin and Poitou Charentes and next year we’d suggest you also look at the Grande Ouest, Languedoc Roussillon and Midi Pyrenees”.
One interesting fact is that while the average British buyer spends €263,000 the average US buyers spends €615,000. The Americans too are taking advantage of the strong dollar and are back with a bang. We know they like prime property in PACA, the Alps and Paris so if you’re looking for an investment in these areas we’d suggest you get in quick”.
Trevor Leggett is Chairman of Leggett Immobilier, the leading international estate agency in France. Leggett’s have been voted “best agent in France” for the past three years and have a stock of 15,000 properties for sale right across the country.