Property buyers see France as a safe haven, experts believe
Popular regions in France are continuing to attract property buyers with the more wealthy looking for areas that they regard as a safe investment.
Also neighbouring Monaco is set to attract more wealthy buyers as a new law reduces the amount of tax payable on property.
The new 1381 law reduces the registration tax payable by individuals purchasing a property in their own name from 7.5% to 4.5%.
This will encourage buyers, according to Paul Humphreys of Knight Frank's France, Monaco and The Alps team. He also believes new developments, including the landmark Tour Odéon project, will create a new benchmark in terms of luxury living, something the Monaco market has lacked for a number of years.
The latest data from Knight Frank’s Global Property Search website shows interest in properties priced between €1 million and €5 million in Monaco increased the most of all price brackets in 2011, with search volumes rising by 74%. This was followed by the €15 million plus bracket, which saw interest rise by 55% year on year.
Humphreys pointed out that escalating global wealth means demand for homes in one of the world’s most glamorous tax friendly addresses is largely assured, although not immune to the recent global economic turbulence.
‘Confidence is returning to the market but the uptick in sales will depend on the Euro’s trajectory in 2012 and vendors being realistic about their price expectations,’ he said.
His colleague John Stephenson has found that Provence's global appeal as a second home destination is growing. In 2010 his applicants came from seven countries, by 2011 this figure had risen to 18.
British, Belgian, Swiss and French, predominantly Parisian, buyers together account for around 70% of prime purchasers in the region. Provence is also proving popular with a number of British expats who are living in Asia and seeking a European base outside the UK and in a warmer climate.
Properties are also well priced. ‘In my view prices fell on average by around 5% in 2011, due to the fragile global economy rather than any noticeable softening of demand or surge in supply,’ said Stephenson.
He also pointed out that the region is home to two Natural Parks and subject to strict planning controls which make new developments a rarity, constraining supply and protecting prices.
Les Alpilles and the Luberon have traditionally been the key focal points for international buyers, many of whom are tempted by the region's medieval hilltop villages and the stunning backdrop of vineyards, lavender fields and the region's Luberon mountain range.
Some lesser known villages such as Lourmarin and Cucuron are also seeing an increase in demand, as more international buyers consider them good value.
‘Set against the current backdrop of financial instability, the Eurozone’s debt crisis and the 2012 French presidential election I expect prices will remain largely static in 2012. That said, the economic climate may start to impinge on vendors’ expectations potentially creating a more realistic attitude to pricing in 2012/13,’ he added.
French developer MGM has found more British people are looking at property in the Alps. It has sold all but 18 of the 70 apartments it is building at Les Chardons Argentés, its sixth development in Samoëns in Haute Savoie.
‘Growing numbers of Britons are opting for properties in locations like Samoëns where they can pursue a lifestyle which enables them to integrate with local people while enjoying good skiing as well as a huge variety of other activities throughout the year,’ said Richard Deans who heads the company’s London based UK sales office.
He pointed out that in addition to skiing, there is dog sledging, raquette trekking, and climbing frozen waterfalls. In the summer activities include rock climbing, archery, paragliding, white water rafting, horse riding, walking, cycling and fishing.
‘For British buyers, a special appeal of Samoëns is the fact that it is only one hour from Geneva Airport by road, making it four hours door to door from London. Furthermore, the prices of the MGM apartments for sale in the town can be around 25% lower than those for comparable properties in big name resorts like Tignes and Chamonix,’ added Deans.