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Where to Find Cheap Property in France

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By : Sarah Speight    99 or more times read
Our Gallic neighbour hasn’t completely escaped the credit crunch, but the market for property in France does remain robust. This is largely due to modest borrowing levels in France, with very few native homeowners even having mortgages.

Trisha Mason, managing director of French property agent VEF, says: “Overall there has been a reduction in prices of houses in France of only three to five per cent, with the south of France still showing gains.” She adds that, despite a lull in 2008, interest from British buyers has picked up again this year.

Some experts are mooting how the current state of sterling could put some buyers off; at the time of going to press, the pound is just 93 pence against the euro. But Chris Bishop, from French property agent Latitudes, believes that now is actually a good time to buy property in France while the euro is strong. He explains: “There are opportunities out there to buy properties in France at good discounts, especially if you buy from an English vendor, as they are trying to capitalise on the strength of the euro.”

Moneycorp, the foreign exchange specialist, reports that enquiries about France from prospective British buyers actually rose by more than 34 per cent during 2008. Moneycorp’s Marc Morley-Freer explains: “France has always enjoyed attention from British investors. At the moment, with stability in the French property market and the volatility of the British economy, property in France is seen as an increasingly attractive investment option.”

While French property hasn’t been reduced to bargain basement prices, property there generally remains well under UK averages, with plenty to choose from within a budget of €150,000 (£140,031). The bargains tend, predictably, to be inland, with a few exceptions. There are the usual run-down farmhouses in need of TLC, through to fully restored stone cottages and farmhouses. A rising number of new properties are being built too, encouraged by President Sarkozy who is keen to make La France a nation of homeowners.

Brittany property and Normandy property continue to offer great value, with renovation projects available from around €25,000 (£23,338) and well-restored stone cottages from around €100,000 (£93,354). For example, a 17th-century, two-bedroom stone house with a sizeable patch of land is on the market with Latitudes for €88,000 (£82,151). It is in need of renovation, but it is well located, being near the sea, and includes an attic which could be converted into two more bedrooms.

In central France, there’s a good range of reasonably priced Limousin properties although expect to pay more per square metre. Properties needing work are on the market from around €50,000 (£46,677) while a habitable farmhouse may use up most of your €150,000 budget.

Heading south, there are some good deals to be had on property in Poitou-Charentes, where a four-bedroom detached home will come in well under budget. There is also a multitude of new homes here, many offering leaseback and guaranteed rental returns. But perhaps the best example of a traditional, character home in this region is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom cottage in the grounds of a 15th-century chateau in Charentes. With superb views of the chateau and a lake, the property has an attached barn and – get this – a second property to renovate. All for the very modest price of €142,000 (£132,563) with VEF.

In south westerly, stay away from Aquitaine property on the coast as they tend to be pricey; instead, look at North Dordogne where some careful research will bring good results. For example, a well-restored, two/three-bedroom cottage in the village of Abjat is on the market with Leggett Immobilier for €141,700 (£132,283). It would make a great lock-up-and-leave holiday home. A private terrace makes up for the lack of garden, and there is a garage, accessed from the house.

Expect to pay over €100,000 (£93,354) for a well-presented, small Midi-Pyrenees property, although there is a surfeit of renovation properties available, many of which have gites. On the market with VEF is a two-bedroom stone property in Tarn-et-Garonne department. Close to a famous chateau, the property is surrounded by its own land and is very private, although it is in need of full restoration and the asking price is €150,000 (£140,031).

Finally, there are some surprisingly affordable ski pads in the French Alps, many of which are brand new to meet huge demand. MGM French Property has on its books several ski properties offering leaseback schemes. Le Coeur d’Or is situated in Bourg Saint Maurice, which is the terminal for the Eurostar ski train from London St Pancras. Situated below Les Arcs 1600 resort, the development offers access to the slopes via a funicular train from the town. A one-bedroom apartment here costs upwards of €122,000 (£113,892).

A word of advice when putting in an offer on a property in France: respect the vendor’s asking price. Mary Hawkins from agent Leggett Immobilier warns: “The press have indicated that buyers should offer 30 per cent under the asking price. This is not the case; most vendors will not accept this as properties are realistically priced.”

Under the current climate, you’d be forgiven for feeling wary of turning your cash into bricks and mortar, even in an ‘old favourite’ country with a healthy property market, continued demand, a strong currency and a vast range of affordable properties. But Latitudes’ Chris Bishop offers these final reassuring words: “If you are in a position to buy France property now, either as a cash buyer or by taking a mortgage in France, then I believe you will do extremely well in terms of price and the choice of properties available to you.”

Bonne chance!
Sarah Speight for Homes Overseas. View our range of Aquitaine property, Midi-Pyrenees property, or property in Savoie
Homes Overseas - International property experts since 1965.

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