Monday, January 7, 2013

So is 2013 the year you will make your dream of a life in France happen?

It's that time of year again when industry folk look back over the last 12 months and make predictions for 2013 and with being in the property market here myself I like to pass on what I can. The former is relatively easy but the latter has always been and remains a case of wetting your finger and sticking it in the wind....who knows what will happen to the European economy, the euro itself or the effects of the domestic changes and austerity measures being introduced by our new President M. Hollande.

Let's start with 2012.

On a national level it looks as though the overall number of French property sales will be around 650,000 which is quite a drop on the 790,000 we saw in 2011.  The market definitely slowed in 2012 and despite the many front page headlines talking about soaring prices in Paris and on the Cote d'Azur I'm dubious that any region is currently showing price growth.

Latest research from the ‘Notaires de France’ says that some areas buck the trend and they quote Limoges as seeing a 7% rise, Toulouse an increase of 4.5% and Lille 2.9%.....don't forget though that these figures are already well out of date and I'd take them with a healthy pinch of salt. 

And Brittany, well after two years of consistent growth, +2.5% and +5.2% we do seem to have dipped slightly with last year declared at -2.9%, but that still demonstrates a rise of just under 5% over the last 3 years – still impressive when you consider the continuing worldwide economic crisis.

As in many other parts of France I am seeing plenty of local agents dropping prices from what were pretty optimistic levels.  I'm not saying that prices are in free-fall or anything dramatic like that but it seems to me that a) only properties in the best locations are selling and b) they have to be priced realistically to do so.

Forecasting anything for 2013 is pretty much a lottery but I'd be surprised if transaction numbers for 2013 weren't between the 600-650,000 range, ie showing another slight decrease and signifying another tough year for those of us who earn our living in this arena.

I'm not going to forecast anything to do with prices as the conflicting figures we are presented with by the Notaires, FNAIM, INSEE and others are meaningless. What I will say though is that I don't think we'll see many areas being touted as having rises or falls of more than 2 or 3 percent.  I sense a pretty flat market which, given what is going on in the rest of the world, is not at all a bad thing.

As I have said before, international buyers come to France for a mixture of reasons - around 40,000 of them bought in France last year and I'd predict that this number won't change much either way this year and as I highlighted last year, for those who do watch trends France did claim 7th position in the league table of property hotspots in terms of price increases over the last 10 years (AOL Money & Finance 2012)

Of course the decision to move to France permanently or to buy a holiday home for many is not financially driven but the realisation of a dream and let’s not forget that the sunshine, great food, world class wine and welcoming culture are happily pretty much recession and inflation proof!

So ………………is 2013 the year you will make your dream of a life in France happen?