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.


Liam Smith said...

Yes, but how long will it take for this confidence to return . The confidence of most real estate agents utilises rose-tinted spectacles and their customers suffer. Looking at the current economic indicators I don't see a recovery anytime soon. As one of those people who would like to flee this perceived paradise my depression is only surpassed by the housing market. Having 600k invested in a property and to be told under current market conditions I could get 320k to 400k tops, I think any recovery is going to take many many years if I am to even come close to regaining my investment (if I live that long). I'm sorry but I think the article was poorly researched and offers only false hope.

graham downie said...

Hi Liam, thanks for commenting.

Like everyone else I have no idea when the market for international buyers will come back. My own view is that we'll see a slight increase in their numbers this year but it's only a guess based on anecdotal evidence.

I'm surprised that you criticise the post for being poorly researched....I'm just quoting figures from the BNP Paribas report and giving my interpretation on some of them.

The research isn't mine and I have to say that I think it's extremely accurate and have no reason to doubt it. They certainly didn't "rose tint" any of it and the headline figure shows that sales to international buyers were down by almost a third last year!