How buoyant is the French house market?

Buying, selling or renting in the area

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NigelS
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How buoyant is the French house market?

Post by NigelS » Fri 09 Jun 2017 11:19

Hello,

We are thinking of buying a gite in the Ariege but have been warned by our IFA that:

"Brits buying property in France has ended in tears for many. They simply can't resell and get stuck with them or have to lose a lot of money on them. It's a totally different market vs UK."

What is your experience or knowledge of this?

Do you know where we could find objective evidence about the "health" of the French housing market, especially in the Ariege?

Many thanks in advance.

Fiona Warren
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Buying in Ariege

Post by Fiona Warren » Fri 09 Jun 2017 12:57

Hi Nigel, well that's a quite a negative attitude from your IFA :-) Truth is that yes it is a different market to the UK and yes re-sell can take some time. However, if you are looking for a fabulous area to live in and very reasonably priced property then it's a great place to buy! I am the area rep for Currencies Direct, based on the border of the Aude and the Ariege so I know the area well, as well as having a lot of dealings with local Immobiliers. Whilst many are confirming that since the BREXIT referendum business has been quieter, for international buyers, they are definitely still out there and properties are selling - I know that from the amount of clients that are referred to me. Now that Macron has been elected he is bringing (from what I see) more optimism to the French market, many of the agents I work with have said their French business has increased significantly...

I'd be happy to help with the currency transfer side of your transaction, do please feel free to pm me or email me - no obligation. My one bit of advice on that (given that we've seen recent extremes of €1.19 down to €1.13 following the election result) is to PLAN AHEAD! Register with a good, regulated broker as early on in the process as you can and you will give yourself more time to consider your options for making a transfer.

Good luck :o

Geoman
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Post by Geoman » Fri 09 Jun 2017 15:23

Maybe there are not selling because they are asking too much. Some of the prices you see are silly, if it's priced correctly it will sell

NigelS
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Thanks Fiona

Post by NigelS » Fri 09 Jun 2017 15:41

Thanks for your view, Fiona. Thanks also for the advice about planning early on the currency side - I had no idea about that!

NigelS
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Thanks Geoman

Post by NigelS » Fri 09 Jun 2017 16:11

Thanks Geoman for your opinion. Do you have a sense of what house prices in the Ariege have done over, say, the last ten years?

martyn94
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Re: Thanks Geoman

Post by martyn94 » Fri 09 Jun 2017 16:33

NigelS wrote:Thanks Geoman for your opinion. Do you have a sense of what house prices in the Ariege have done over, say, the last ten years?
A search on "tendance immobilier Ariège" gets you this

http://www.meilleursagents.com/prix-imm ... ariege-09/

and no doubt more, but it's the first hit I looked at. It doesn't set the pulse racing.

NigelS
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Thanks Martyn

Post by NigelS » Fri 09 Jun 2017 17:09

Thanks Martyn. Mmm from what I can see, house prices rose well until 2007 and then have slowly drifted down ever since. The equivalent UK chart would look very different.

Allan
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Re: How buoyant is the French house market?

Post by Allan » Fri 09 Jun 2017 19:23

NigelS wrote:Hello,

We are thinking of buying a gite in the Ariege but have been warned by our IFA that:

"Brits buying property in France has ended in tears for many. They simply can't resell and get stuck with them or have to lose a lot of money on them. It's a totally different market vs UK."

What is your experience or knowledge of this?

Do you know where we could find objective evidence about the "health" of the French housing market, especially in the Ariege?

Many thanks in advance.
Healthy markets are not necessarily good when you are buying. If there is a dearth of buyers then negotiate hard and buy at a good price.

If the market had carried on at pre-2007 rates then a suitable property would cost you more than double what you can now expect to pay.

Presumably you are wanting to buy to keep, not sell straight away so the poor market performance over the last ten years works in your favour.

What you should be focussing on is the gîte market rather than the housing market. If the performance of that is good enough then unless you want to sell, what does it matter if the housing market is flat.

martyn94
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Re: How buoyant is the French house market?

Post by martyn94 » Fri 09 Jun 2017 19:43

Allan wrote:
NigelS wrote:Hello,

We are thinking of buying a gite in the Ariege but have been warned by our IFA that:

"Brits buying property in France has ended in tears for many. They simply can't resell and get stuck with them or have to lose a lot of money on them. It's a totally different market vs UK."

What is your experience or knowledge of this?

Do you know where we could find objective evidence about the "health" of the French housing market, especially in the Ariege?

Many thanks in advance.

What you should be focussing on is the gîte market rather than the housing market. If the performance of that is good enough then unless you want to sell, what does it matter if the housing market is flat.
Yes of course. But does anyone actually make money out of gîtes, rather than slightly subsidizing a nice house for themselves, or just putting money into a money-pit?

I ask because I genuinely have no idea: it's not my idea of fun.

martyn94
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Re: Thanks Martyn

Post by martyn94 » Fri 09 Jun 2017 20:24

NigelS wrote:Thanks Martyn. Mmm from what I can see, house prices rose well until 2007 and then have slowly drifted down ever since. The equivalent UK chart would look very different.
For anywhere in France outside Paris, I look first at Wikipedia, and particularly the census statistics, eg here
https://fr.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariege_(département)

Like anywhere in rural France, but more so, the permanent population has shrunk radically over 150 years. So there's lots of pretty houses for sale. On the other hand it has 25% "residences secondaires", and in some places staggeringly more. So you would not be relying just on local buyers to resell. But on very recent form, I would not be relying on retired Brits either.

Make of that what you can. But your IFA was right: it's not like the UK.

martyn94
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Re: Thanks Martyn

Post by martyn94 » Fri 09 Jun 2017 21:33

NigelS wrote:Thanks Martyn. Mmm from what I can see, house prices rose well until 2007 and then have slowly drifted down ever since. The equivalent UK chart would look very different.
It's not a French chart, it's an Ariège chart. It probably looks quite good compared to, say, Widnes or Cleethorpes.

NigelS
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Thanks Martyn

Post by NigelS » Sat 10 Jun 2017 11:51

Point taken on the Widnes / Cleethorpes perspective.

Sus
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Re: How buoyant is the French house market?

Post by Sus » Sun 11 Jun 2017 14:05

Allan wrote:
NigelS wrote:Hello,

We are thinking of buying a gite in the Ariege but have been warned by our IFA that:

"Brits buying property in France has ended in tears for many. They simply can't resell and get stuck with them or have to lose a lot of money on them. It's a totally different market vs UK."

What is your experience or knowledge of this?

Do you know where we could find objective evidence about the "health" of the French housing market, especially in the Ariege?

Many thanks in advance.
Healthy markets are not necessarily good when you are buying. If there is a dearth of buyers then negotiate hard and buy at a good price.

If the market had carried on at pre-2007 rates then a suitable property would cost you more than double what you can now expect to pay.

Presumably you are wanting to buy to keep, not sell straight away so the poor market performance over the last ten years works in your favour.

What you should be focussing on is the gîte market rather than the housing market. If the performance of that is good enough then unless you want to sell, what does it matter if the housing market is flat.
I agree with Allan to concentrate on the gîte market, the competition from Airbnb is increasing and if you are intending on making this your main or even only source of income, it pays to do the research. For house prices, it can also be useful to discuss this with a local notaire, they are familiar with the market, we got some very useful insights from a father/son notaire who know the area we are interested in really well.

martyn94
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Re: Thanks Martyn

Post by martyn94 » Sun 11 Jun 2017 14:33

NigelS wrote:Point taken on the Widnes / Cleethorpes perspective.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the Ariège has a population of about 150,000, or about 0.2% of France - not hugely greater than either Widnes or Cleethorpes - spread over a very big space. There are multiple local housing markets (the Wikipedia entry gives you a start on some research) but also multiple sub-markets: what I might buy might be exactly what a local wouldn't buy (they often, quite understandably, buy new builds in what passes for a town, even though there are lovely houses falling down not very far away: they simply couldn't afford to fettle them up, even if they would be practicable for their circs, with two parents working and kids to get to school).

Allan's advice was entirely sound. But I wouldn't buy in deeply rural France if you care too much about the money. And if you can afford not to care too much, I would think, in the long term, more about how far you are from a GP or a hospital, or a boulangerie, or any sort of shop, and how likely it is that they will still be there in 20 years' time.

And obviously avoid a money-pit.

martyn94
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Re: How buoyant is the French house market?

Post by martyn94 » Sun 11 Jun 2017 15:37

Sus wrote:
Allan wrote:
NigelS wrote:Hello,

We are thinking of buying a gite in the Ariege but have been warned by our IFA that:

"Brits buying property in France has ended in tears for many. They simply can't resell and get stuck with them or have to lose a lot of money on them. It's a totally different market vs UK."

What is your experience or knowledge of this?

Do you know where we could find objective evidence about the "health" of the French housing market, especially in the Ariege?

Many thanks in advance.


Healthy markets are not necessarily good when you are buying. If there is a dearth of buyers then negotiate hard and buy at a good price.

If the market had carried on at pre-2007 rates then a suitable property would cost you more than double what you can now expect to pay.

Presumably you are wanting to buy to keep, not sell straight away so the poor market performance over the last ten years works in your favour.

What you should be focussing on is the gîte market rather than the housing market. If the performance of that is good enough then unless you want to sell, what does it matter if the housing market is flat.
I agree with Allan to concentrate on the gîte market, the competition from Airbnb is increasing and if you are intending on making this your main or even only source of income, it pays to do the research. For house prices, it can also be useful to discuss this with a local notaire, they are familiar with the market, we got some very useful insights from a father/son notaire who know the area we are interested in really well.
Despite all its occasional weaknesses, I still believe in the "efficient market hypothesis" in relation to French house property (and most other things): everything that anyone knows about current supply and demand and potential profit will be reflected in the current price, after a bit of haggling: if your notaires are giving you insights (as no doubt they do, valuable or not) you are not their only contacts. If there is money to be made from your prospective property as a gîte, there are likely to be French professionals who would do it more efficiently: if they are not ready to match your price, you are probably paying too much.

My concern is that people from the UK may be importing UK expectations: ie that property values here are just on an endless upward escalator which would ultimately wipe out the losses (and effort) from a dodgy gîte business. That is not so even in the UK, obviously, but most of the UK people with the money to invest here are ,by definition, likely to come from parts of the UK where property has made them hatfuls.

If there were lots of former B and B proprietors from Blackpool setting up down here (perhaps there are?), I would be convinced.

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Santiago
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Post by Santiago » Mon 12 Jun 2017 08:25

Your IFA is right. A rural property, rented out to seasonal visitors, in the Ariege is not a very attractive financial investment. Maybe in or close to Mirepoix there are opportunities but the rest of the department is remote, underpopulated and far from airports and fast trains.

Gite businesses have taken a big hit recently with competition from unregulated lets on Air BnB, cheap holiday deals in Greece, Portugal and Spain as well as in South Eastern Europe.

Property prices in rural France don't naturally go up.

It's a great opportunity to come and live in a beautiful, peaceful, quiet area but not one for making money. You'd be better investing in a small flat in a British city or one of the financial centres of Europe likely to take business from London after Brexit.
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