Flexible property prices, incredibly low interest rates and favourable market conditions means that 2015 is the year of the deal for real estate in France
When Home Hunts analysed its data in order to produce the spring 2015 issue of Inside France – a report dedicated to real estate insights in France – a rise in enquiries and transactions showed that buyers who were waiting for an optimal buying opportunity have decided that the time to buy is now.
Irresistible investment prospects
While house prices dropped in most areas of France in 2014, even in Paris, they have started to rise in others, such as Languedoc. Combining these lower prices with exceedingly low interest rates, favourable currency pairs and, for British buyers, sterling rising to its highest level since 2007, savvy property investors are taking advantage of France’s unique and irresistible buying conditions.
“We have been experiencing a lot of interest from the UK because of the strength of the pound against the euro and this continues to be the case,” says Tim Swannie, Director of Home Hunts. “We have had clients from all over the world enquiring about and buying properties – including China, the Middle East, America, South Africa, Brazil, Russia and Europe – and they have all had one thing in common: they were all looking for a deal.”
2015 is the year of the deal
Home Hunts are finding that clients are taking advantage of this unique time in the French housing market to find their dream home, in their dream location at a dream price. Properties which sell have either been put on the market very recently and aggressively priced to attract buyer attention, or are those where the owner needs to sell and is willing to be flexible.
“If owners are not willing to take an offer then their property will sit on the market for a long time,” says Swannie. “Vendors who are willing to work with a buyer on price are making the sales and therefore also able to broker an interesting deal on the property they wish to buy.”
Euro interest rates lowest since 1999
Lower prices already make the prospect of buying French property interesting, but combined with low interest rates and advantageous exchange rates the French real estate market is offering attractive deals that were simply not possible before.
“The Eurozone interest rates are now the lowest they have been since the euro was introduced in 1999,” says Tim Yates of Spectrum IFA, explaining that the reasons behind this are twofold. “The Euribor 3 month – the interbank rate that most variable rate mortgages are linked to – reached its historical high of 5.3% at the beginning of October 2008, and is now down to 0.08%,” says Yates.
However, as the Euribor has come down the banks have taken the opportunity to increase their margins. “Six years ago a typical margin would have been 1%, now it is 2%,” he says. “Interest rates have therefore come down from 6.3% in 2008 to as low as 2.1% today.”
In terms of reduced outgoings, he explains that the owner of a house bought with an €800,000 20-year repayment mortgage could currently benefit from a monthly saving of almost €1,800.
Favourable FX rates
Adam Bobroff, Director of Foreign Exchange at the Foremost Currency Group, says that many of the FX pairs have moved by over 10% in the favour of an overseas buyer in the past year alone and that GBP/EUR is at the best level in almost six years, having gained 12% since the summer of 2013.
“This means your dream home in the sun, based on €1,000,000, is a staggering £100,000 cheaper now,” he says. “It’s not just the Brits that have seen a huge benefit from the exchange rate fluctuation over the past year, Americans have gained 16%, Australians will find their purchase to be 11% cheaper since the start of 2014, along with Canadians seeing similar gains, and the Scandinavians have seen smaller savings at up to 2%.”
Pick up a dream property at dream prices
In terms of what lies ahead for the French market, this window of opportunity is expected to last for a few months yet. Interest rates should remain low for a little while and the pound is not predicted to gain too much strength in the next three to six months. “Euro buyers should consider taking advantage of what is a near six-year EUR/GBP high,” says Bobroff.
“France has always offered stable and secure real estate opportunities with Paris remaining one of the most secure and attractive cities for property investment in the world,” says Swannie. “But the current market conditions mean that buyers can, at the moment, pick up a dream property at a dream price.”
To see what properties are for sale through Home Hunts in France, visit www.home-hunts.com, but to speak with a consultant directly to discuss your individual search criteria, call +33 (0)970 44 66 43.