Why now is the time to buy a house in France

Buying a house in rural France is still the dream for many Anglos, particularly those from Britain and with prices having fallen and exchange rates improved, it seems now is a good time to buy once again. And there's some eye-catching deals out there.

Why now is the time to buy a house in France
Thinking of buying a house in France? Now is a good time to do it saythe experts. Photo: Mychele Daniau / AFP

It seem Brits who have been putting off their dream of buying a quaint little cottage in rural France can wait no more.

With a fall in house prices and a property market that looks as accommodating as it has been for a few years, estate agents say there are plenty of bargains out there and international buyers are starting to snap them up again.

“It obviously depends where but you can pick up some extremely good deals on properties in France," Mary Hawkins from Leggett Immobiliere told The Local. "There’s houses going for 400,000 in rural France that would probably cost around 1 million in the UK."

"And there's still a lot of properties for renovation out there that can be snapped up for as little as €50,000.

“Rural France is still a big pull, it’s still their dream and it’s easy to get to from the UK. But it’s not just Brits starting to buy properties again. There’s a lot of international buyers from places like Australia.”

Down in the Dordogne in the south of France, an area that has long been popular for British expats and holiday makers alike, things are also picking up.

10 things you need to think about when buying a house in France

“I think they have just got fed up waiting over the last couple of years and now the exchange rate is a bit better they are starting to but again,” said Cate Carnduff from Hermann de Graff estate agents told The Local.

“People are coming back to the Dordogne with prices having gone down. There are some good deals out there, because there’s a big backlog of property. Those people who really want to sell have got to make their prices really attractive,” said Carnduff.

Although she warned that some expats who bought properties in parts of central France had run into trouble due to the slump in the market.

“Some people bought cheap properties and put a lot of money into them, but there’s no market to resell them,” she said.

The French property market is not proving enticing once again just for international buyers. In France the current lay of the land means it’s seen as an opportune moment to buy a property.

A recent front page headline in the Parisien newspaper simply said: “Now is the moment to buy”.

In the article French mortgage brokers Empruntis gave a clear message: Anyone hoping to buy should not wait.

The reason why potential buyers should not wait is the current low interest rates making it a good time to ask a French bank to stump up some money. But Empruntis’s Maël Bernier says that things will not remain like that throughout the whole of 2014.

Any gains made by a drop in house prices will soon be lost when interest rates rise, Bernier says. For example a 0.5 percent rise in interest rates will cancel out a 4 percent drop in house prices.

So whether you are in France already or you are watching on from abroad, waiting for an opportunity to settle in in "La Belle France", now appears to be as good a time as any to buy.  

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Property taxes: How much will it cost to extend your French home?

Installing a swimming pool, building a garden shed, or adding a conservatory to your French home has become more expensive in 2023.

Property taxes: How much will it cost to extend your French home?

If you are planning a renovation project in 2023 you’re likely looking at rising cost for materials and labour due to inflation – but there is one other cost to consider; taxes. 

In France there is a one-off tax that has to be paid on certain building works, and the government has raised the rate for this.

The taxe d’aménagement, sometimes referred to as the garden shed tax, applies to all property development – construction, reconstruction and extension – of buildings that require planning permission or a building permit.

Garden sheds, swimming pools or extensions with a surface area of more than 5 square metres are subject to the development tax – although a 50 percent reduction is applied to the flat-rate values of certain buildings, particularly the first 100 square metres of main residences.

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about installing a swimming pool at your French property

The tax is collected by local councils, who set their own percentage rates for the tax, working off the base rate set by the government.

A decree published in the Journal Officiel set the base figures for 2023 at the following rates: 

  • €1,004 per square metre in Île-de-France (up from €929 per square metre in 2022);
  • €886 per square metre outside Île-de-France (€820 per square metre in 2022).

The flat-rate values per square metre of building space, which constitute the basis for the development tax, are revised on January 1st of each year according to the latest construction cost index published by national statistics body Insee. 

Additionally, specific rates are set for:

  • €250 per square metre  for a swimming pool (up from €200 in 2022);
  • €12 per square metre of ground-fixed solar panels (up from €10 in 2022);
  • €3,000 per wind turbine more than 12 metres high;
  • €3,000 per pitch for tents, caravans and mobile leisure homes;
  • €10,000 per pitch for a holiday chalet or bungalow.

The amount of the tax is calculated according to the following formula: 

(Taxable area multiplied by the government-set base figure) multiplied by the percentage tax rate set by the local authorities. This gives the total to be paid in cents. Bills are rounded down.

So, the tax for a 30 square metre extension in an area where the combined local and departmental tax rates total 6.25 percent would be calculated like this:

30 (the size of the development) x 886 (the base tax rate outside Ile-de-France) = 26,580

6.25 (local and departmental tax) x 26,580 = 166,125 cents, more usually expressed as €1,661. 

If the total payable is less than €1,500, you will receive a bill in the six months after planning permission was granted, with details of how to pay.

Otherwise, it is paid in two instalments, 12 months and 24 months after authorisation, with a 10 percent surcharge applied in cases of late payments.

READ ALSO The hidden costs of owning property in France