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Brit buyers bounce back!

The latest survey of overseas buyers of second homes in France carried out by bankers BNP using data supplied by Notaries from across the country paints a mixed picture of the health of the French property market, but puts the Brits firmly back in pole position as buyers.

Transaction volumes are continuing to fall, down from just under 15,000 in 2012 to just under 13,000 in 2013, but the average price paid and the amount of the loan advanced have both held up well – average house prices now stand at €448,000, with the average euro mortgage amount being €354,000.

But the real change was seen in the number of Brits who are once again buying second and holiday homes in France. One in four foreign property buyers was British in 2013, a rise of 5% over the past two years. British buyers are comfortably ahead of Belgian, Swiss and Italian buyers, who make up the next biggest groupings. Commenting on the figures Tim Harvey, managing director of French euro mortgage brokers said, “With the UK property market now firmly in recovery mode, it was just a matter of time before UK buyers began selling  in a strong market at home and banking gains to buy abroad. France represents a popular choice for many and French values have weathered the economic crisis far better than Spain’s prices over the period since 2007, making France a sound investment in its own right.”

Whilst the most expensive parts of Franc e remain Paris, the ski areas and the Cote D’Azur, Brit buyers have shown themselves to be canny, securing far better value in the more rural parts of France, dominating purchases in the Loire, Charente and Limousin areas, accounting for between 70% and 80% of all foreign transactions here.  In contrast, British buyers snapped up just 3% of homes bought in the Paris region by foreign buyers, 17% in the Alps and 10% on the Cote D’Azur.

With the European Central Bank having cut interest rates again in June to their lowest ever levels, mortgages in France have seldom been cheaper. Three month Euribor, a common reference rate for many banks, now stands at 0.2%, meaning many banks are now offering variable rate euro mortgages from just 2.30%.  Harvey adds, “Mortgages in France offer a huge variety of choice to the buyer from simple variable rates through to capped, fixed and long term fixed rates. Banks will often allow deposits of just 15%, with lower rates available for those with higher deposits.”

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