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British Returning to the French Property Market

British overseas property investors are returning to the French property market, following a two-year decline in enquiries following the Brexit referendum, according to buyers’ agent Home Hunts.

The French property market has had a buoyant year, with the number of transactions made rising by 7 per cent in the twelve months leading to July 2019. Mortgage interest rates are at a historically low level, and house prices have risen in most of the prime areas of the French property market this year.

FNAIM, the professional body for real estate agents in France, is forecasting house price increases of 3.4 per cent during the rest of 2019 and into 2020.

Home Hunts found that there is also a resurgence of British buyers this year, especially in the second half of the year. Pre-referendum, British buyers made up more than 60 per cent of their buying clients, which had dropped to just under one third in 2017 and 2018. The year however, British clients have made up 48 per cent of their buyers in the French property market.

Tim Swannie, director of Home Hunts, said: ‘The French Riviera remains a firm favourite with Brits, particularly the famous coastal resorts such as Cannes, Nice and Saint Tropez. Some of the villages in the back country such as Mougins, Valbonne, Grasse and Saint Paul de Vence are also very popular this year.

‘The Luberon and the Alpilles in Provence have been a real hit with the Brits for several decades even though we saw a decline in enquiries following the 2016 referendum. This has changed in 2019 however, and Brits are our biggest buyers in these areas this year for the first time in 4 years.

‘Moving away from the South, the other two main areas where we have seen a marked increase in British buyers are Paris (some are relocating here from London, others are buying themselves a base in the city) and also parts of the Alps, particularly near Annecy and the French side of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman). People can breathe the mountain air and have a lovely laid-back way of life, but they also have Geneva nearby for its airport, and its international shopping and restaurants.’

However, more buyers are taking out mortgages to buy in the French perty market, due to low value of the pound.

Mr Swannie said: ‘The decreasing value of the pound has certainly knocked some British buyers’ confidence and has caused them to rethink their purchase. We have seen a change in the way people buy: many buyers have not allowed the weak pound to delay their decision, so they opted to take a mortgage rather than pay in cash.’

He explained: ‘This allows them to keep the majority of their sterling, take out a Euro mortgage and then they can opt to pay this off in the future once the pound has regained some strength.’

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