Increase of transactions

The housing market in France really started to pick up in 2017 following several years of stagnation. This was seen in prices, which rose 4.2%, but far more important was the increase in the volume of transactions; having fallen as low as 709,000 in 2012, it increased to 986,000 in 2017. Initiatives such as the Loi Pinel (tax breaks for landlords) and PTZ loans for first time buyers took a while to work, but helped the market turn around after eight years of recession.

Unusually, Paris didn't head the price leaderboard in 2017; it was Bordeaux that starred, with a 7.7% increase in price per square metre. The most active departments, besides Paris/Ile de France and Gironde (of which Bordeaux is the capital), included Provence and the Mediterranean coast, and Nord, where properties in Lille hit record prices. Real estate association FNAIM is now looking for a further 2% rise in property prices in 2018, while bank Credit Agricole looks for a 3% rise in resale prices.

New property versus resale

Prices differ greatly between new and resale property, particularly in major cities.

In Marseille, for instance, new property can be 40 to 50% more expensive than resale, though obviously a lot depends on the date and condition of resale properties. In Bordeaux, where recent years have seen a lot of building, the differential is much lower, as many resale properties are relatively recent builds with high energy ratings and in good decorative order. In central Paris, there's very little new build available, and the differential is limited to 26%.

There are some financial advantages to buying new property which help to mitigate the price differential. There are no agent's fees to pay, and this together with lower notary's fees can save a buyer up to 11% of the property price.

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Rural depopulation

While regional capitals such as Orleans, Nantes and Bordeaux have mostly done well, smaller cities and towns have seen both population and businesses headed elsewhere. That has left rural properties in France particularly undervalued - a situation that obviously has its appeal to some purchasers, who will be pleasantly surprised by how cheaply they can buy properties in some areas.

Rural depopulation

While regional capitals such as Orleans, Nantes and Bordeaux have mostly done well, smaller cities and towns have seen both population and businesses headed elsewhere. That has left rural properties in France particularly undervalued - a situation that obviously has its appeal to some purchasers, who will be pleasantly surprised by how cheaply they can buy properties in some areas.