France has always had one of the most stable real estate markets in the world. Properties in the French Riviera, or ski chalets in the French Alps, for example, never went out of fashion, even when things were looking really bad in the rest of Europe following the global recession of 2008. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the Property Trends in France 2016 and beyond.
2015 ended on a strong note for the property market in France, as the foreign interest in French real estate rose to unprecedented levels. It's expected to be the same in 2016, and this renewed interest comes after 3 or 4 years of relative decline in property prices across France.
Thierry Delesalle, head of statistics at the Paris Chamber of Notaries explains, "Given the economic recession in Europe in recent years, we have seen a decline in domestic housing transactions, about 20 to 25 percent depending on which sector of Paris. But the trend has gone the opposite way when it comes to foreign buyers."
"The two reasons for the trend are that French real estate appears very reassuring to foreigners and that there is easy access to cheap credit," Mr. Delesalle adds.
Indeed, the interest in French real estate is up by 53% over the last 12 months according to some market observers. Demand has been high throughout 2015, and it looks set to continue in 2016 as well.
Among foreign buyers, the British were the most dominant. The British interest grew by as much as 33% last, because of the favorable exchange rate situation – stronger pound, weaker euro – which gives British investors looking for French properties an unprecedented buying power.
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of Americans buying property in France as well, up by 12%. Germans, Italians, Scandinavians and Swiss have also shown a great interest in buying French property, as well as a growing number of rich investors from the Middle East.
The most remarkable development has been the interest coming from China. Wealthy Chinese have been buying historical castles, vineyards, chateaux, and much more in France. The Chinese were the second most prominent buyers of apartments in Paris, responsible for 8.3% of the sales, just behind the Italians who bought 17.6%.
The Chinese have invested in three areas in Paris -Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis and Val-de-Marne. Laurent Demeure, CEO of the American real estate franchise Coldwell Banker France & Monaco LLC, talks about how the number of Chinese buyers snapping up French properties has risen over the last few years.
Mr. Demeure says, “Chinese individuals and corporate leaders are buying very large properties for both commercial and residential reasons. There is a strong Chinese community living in France and the rest of Europe, and in some areas, such as Hauts-de-Seine, which covers the western inner suburb of Paris, Chinese have become the largest foreign buyers."
Mr. Demeure talks about how so many Chinese investors are buying vineyards and luxury resorts in France: "I think Chinese are fond of wine, so buying French wineries enables them to acquire particular skills and to enjoy the place, and at the same time acquire knowledge to reproduce (the quality) at Chinese vineyards."
According to Stephane Bertoux, the CEO of Immo Luxe SAS, a real estate agency that helps Chinese investors buy properties in France, Chinese buyers belong to two different categories – one of which is looking to make long term investments in France. He says, "For example, they will buy an apartment in Paris for about 1 million euros ($1.08 million) as part of their investment portfolio and rent it out furnished. In addition, it is also an investment of 'pleasure', the Chinese investors like to have an apartment in Paris."
The other group of Chinese investors, according to Mr. Bertoux is more professional and focused on earning a higher yield from their investment. He explains, “They buy castles and chateaus with our company, with the aim of turning them into hotels, tourist attractions or event venues for the Chinese, who are coming to visit France in increasing numbers."
So clearly, exciting days are ahead for the property market in France in 2016.