Thursday, July 18, 2013
French property sales to international buyers becalmed
The 5th annual "Investing & Living Abroad" survey by BNP Paribas International Buyers came out earlier this month.
For those of us who earn a living working with international buyers they make pretty gloomy reading but there are one or two silver linings if you look hard enough.
The headline figure is that house sales in France to "non resident" purchasers dropped by 29% to 10,663 (from 15,073). There is no getting away from the fact that it's a tough market and until consumer confidence returns many people will keep their hands in their pockets rather than splash out on a home in France.
However, there are a couple of points worth highlighting.
Firstly, those canny buyers taking advantage of the lower prices are spending more - on average €384,000 which is a €64,000 leap over the figure two years previously.
Secondly, these tend to be astute cash buyers, with only 20% of them requiring a mortgage.
Finally, we were shown the figures (which I have forgotten sadly) of UK expats who have sold but moved within France (ie moved to the next village along). I remember thinking that this figure was pretty high - not far short of the number of buyers from the UK. This flies in the face of all the headlines of "Brits fleeing France back to the UK".
Anecdotally, I know far more expats who have sold and moved within France than expats who have returned "home". These figures never get reported and I'm glad that BNP Paribas included it in their research.
I do firmly believe that there is a pent up demand and that once confidence returns we will see a big influx of international buyers again. Time will tell.