Wednesday, October 03, 2012

French property market report - Summer 2012

Regular readers of this blog will know that there is a real shortgage of information about the French property market when compared to say the UK, USA or Australia.

However, the Notaires de France do their best and a few weeks ago released some figures on the year to date.

It's clear from their figures that transaction numbers are dropping across the country including the previously untouchable Paris market.  They are forecasting a fall of around 15% in the number of sales for 2012 which would bring the total down to a little over 700,000.

They say that Paris will be badly hit but that the areas around Bordeaux, Nice, Toulouse, Lyon and Montpellier will be slightly cushioned.

These figures are total sales and not to be confused with the statistics issued by BNP Paribas which are focused on sales to international buyers only.

This is the third major downturn of my property career - each one seems to last forever when you are in the middle of it but, thankfully, each one has been followed by a dramatic upturn.  The property market is a cyclical one and I'm used to the fact that we seem to have "seven lean years followed by seven years of plenty".

What never seems to change is the bullishness of estate agents despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.  Oh for a euro for every time I hear that "our market is different and thriving" or  "prices in Paris/London/wherever will never fall"....hmmm.

I remember well attending a property conference in the early 1990's in central London - I was on the panel and one of the speakers was an extremely high profile Chief Exec of a huge, listed, property developer.  He gave a morale boosting, upbeat and most enjoyable speech talking about the number of sales they had and how the market was back on its feet.

When he had finished he sat back down and whispered "If anyone believes all that **** they need their head seeing to".

I was still a naive 30 year old and remember being devastated that he didn't truly believe what he had been saying.  It was one of many lessons I learned and I now know that it is part of the industry DNA to talk the market up.

My point is that property sales across France are falling and prices naturally fall with them.  If both sellers and agents recognise this (and price accordingly) then transaction numbers will remain comparatively healthy.  Price sensibly and there are still 700,000 buyers out there!

For info you can get the Notaires de France research here.

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