• France's news in English

Why 2015 is the year to buy that house in France

Oliver Gee · 20 Feb 2015, 16:01

Published: 20 Feb 2015 16:01 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
On Friday, one British Pound was worth a healthy €1.35. One US dollar was worth €0.88.  And one of the best exchange rates in years has caught the attention of foreigners eager to make hay while the sun shines on France. 
Phil Richards, an accountant from Berkshire in the UK, is in the process of securing his first home away from home in the French Alps, close to the Swiss border.
"I'd be a liar if I said the movement in the euro didn't have a factor in the timing," he told The Local. 
His family had been planning to buy a second home in France for three years, but only recently decided to take the leap when the currency exchange rates made things "a whole lot more attractive". 
They're set to sign any day now on an off-plan chalet in the famous Portes du Soleil area, a home where they'll spend large portions of time with their two kids and three dogs. 

(Richards, centre, plans to enjoy the summer cycling and the winter slopes. Photo: Private)
"When you can compare what you get for your money in somewhere like Cornwall, France becomes a very attractive option. Put it all together and it makes a lot of sense," he says. 
He admits that it's not all plain sailing though. The fear, he says, is that the exchange rate could take a turn for the worse while they're paying off the property over the course of a year.
"The big risk is that if I commit to paying today and the pound weakens then I would end up paying a lot more. But my plan is to lock in the exchange rate today to cover myself," he says.
"This is a risk for anyone buying and they need to be aware of it. Even a small move in the exchange rate could mean a few thousand pounds when it comes to property. This is a very real risk, but one that you can manage if you want to."
'A double whammy of goodness'
The Richards family is far from alone in eyeing up French property from abroad, and experts expect to see many more Brits joining them this year.
"All the stars and planets are aligned to give customers a good base to buy from," said Heather Byrne, Regional Manager at estate agents Leggett Immobilier for the Rhône-Alps.
She says that home prices are at their lowest since the 2008 crisis and that it's the best exchange rate in recent memory. 
According to Leggett, the average UK buyer of French Alpine property spends around £290,000 - this time last year that would have bought you €342,000, but today it would fetch €390,000.
Essentially, For those looking to buy at the upper end of the market the savings could run into hundreds of thousands of euros.
But it's not just about the favourable exchange rate.
"On top of that, French mortgage rates are also at an all-time low. It's the same as in the UK, the government wants the markets to be opened up and for people to keep selling to generate movement across the economy," Byrne tells The Local.
"And the national banks are keeping interest rates low and there are also really low exchange rates. This is a double whammy of goodness."
Story continues below…
While sales to UK buyers are on the up, the overall French property market remains fairly calm. There were just over 700,000 transactions in the last 12 months, meaning that properties are generally priced to sell and that there's a decent supply to choose from.
But that doesn't mean it won't boom for foreigners. Byrne has predicted for months that 2015 will be a "bumper year" for the property industry, providing there isn't another crisis. She notes that there has been a growing trend for people investing their money outside of banks due to the bad interest rates. 
"They're realizing that they might as well put their money into property," she says.
As 2015 continues, she thinks prices will level out that that more asking prices will come through.
But if you're thinking about making a purchase of your own, you shouldn't wait, she warns.
"The vendor is becoming stronger as people are looking to buy. People need to get their property purchases in now - it's an absolutely fantastic time to buy."
Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

UK to spend €40 million on securing Calais border
Photo: AFP

Britain spending big on security in Calais.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available