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French property taxes set to reach record levels in 2022

For many people in France the tax burden is being reduced, but this is not the case for property owners, who face record bills in 2022 due to changes in the calculation formula.

French property taxes set to reach record levels in 2022
Property taxes are increasing. Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG / AFP

Property taxes in France come in two forms – the taxe d’habitation which is paid by the householder and taxe foncière which is paid by the property owner. If you own your own home then you pay both.

Taxe d’habitation is gradually being phased out, fewer than 20 percent of the population will pay it in 2022 and it will gradually be scrapped for everyone, with the exception of second-home owners.

However taxe foncière is not only here to stay, it’s also been increasing and 2022 will see another hike to a new record thanks to a revaluation of the formula used the calculate tax bills.

READ ALSO The hidden costs of owning property in France

The formula used to calculate the annual taxe foncière bills – which come out in the autumn – is complicated, but it’s based in part on the rentable value of the property – so if you build a large extension or add a swimming pool you can expect your bills to go up.

For the 2022 bills, the taxes on the rentable value of a property will be increased by 3.4 percent, the largest hike since 1989. 

READ ALSO The French tax calendar for 2022

In addition to the rentable value, the other factor that determines the bills is where you live, since local authorities are allowed to set their own rates. Since the phasing out of the taxe d’habitation, a number of local authorities have sharply increased taxe foncière rates in order to make up for their lost income.

In total, bills in some areas are set to rise by up to 15 percent compared to the previous year. 

If you’re a second-home owner, local authorities are also permitted to add an extra charge for second homes in areas where there is a housing shortage.

However, the TV licence – which usually arrives in the same post as the property taxes bill – is set to be phased out by Emmanuel Macron, if he wins the election. 

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MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

While French cities such as Paris are notoriously expensive, there are many areas outside the cities where it is still possible to buy spacious homes for less than €100,000 - particularly if you don't mind a bit of renovation.

MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

We decided to look at where in France you could afford a property on a budget of €100,000, and it turns out there are some bargains to be had.

There are a lot of caveats while searching for property, and many local variables in place, but our search does show some of the areas to concentrate on if you have a limited budget.

We used the Notaires de France immobilier website in August 2022, and we specified that the property should have at least five rooms (including kitchen and bathroom) and a floor space of at least 100 square metres.

We also discounted any property that was for sale under the viager system – a complicated purchase method which allows the resident to release equity on their property gradually, as the buyer puts down a lump sum in advance and then pays what is effectively a rent for the rest of the seller’s lifetime, while allowing them to remain in the property.

READ ALSO Viager: The French property system that can lead to a bargain

For a five-room, 100 square metre property at under €100,000, you won’t find anywhere in the Île-de-France region, where the proximity of Paris pushes up property prices. The city itself is famously expensive, but much of the greater Paris region is within commuting distance, which means pricier property. 

Equally the island of Corsica – where prices are pushed up by its popularity as a tourist destination – showed no properties for sale while the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur – which includes the French Riviera – showed only 1 property under €100,000.

The very presence of Bordeaux, meanwhile, takes the entire département of Gironde out of this equation – but that doesn’t mean that the southwest is completely out of the running. A total of 25 properties came up in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. One property was on the market for a mere €20,000 – but it was, as the Notaires’ brochure noted, in need of “complete renovation”.

Neighbouring Occitanie, meanwhile, showed 12 further properties in the bracket.

By far the most properties on the day of our search – 67 – were to be found in the Grand Est region of eastern France. The eastern part of France overall comes out best for property bargains, with the north-east region of Hauts-de-France showing 38 properties and and Bourgogne-Franche-Comté displaying 25.

Further south, however, the presence of the Alps – another popular tourist destination – pushed up prices in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region which showed just three results.

The below map shows our search results, with darker colours indicating more cheap properties.

Property buying tips 

In order to make a comparison, we focused our search on properties advertised online, but if you have a specific area in mind it's well worth making friends with a few local real estate agents and perhaps also the mayor, since it's common for properties not to be advertised online.

Most of the truly 'bargain' properties are described as being "in need of renovation" - which is real estate speak for a complete wreck.

If you don't mind doing a bit of work you can often pick up property for low prices, but you need to do a clear-eyed assessment of exactly how much work you are willing and able to do, and what the cost is likely to be - there's no point getting a "cheap" house and then spending three times the purchase price on renovations.

READ ALSO 'Double your budget and make friends with the mayor' - tips for French property renovation

That said, there were plenty of properties at or near the €100,000 mark that were perfectly liveable or needed only relatively minor renovations.

You also need to pay attention to the location, as the sub-€100,000 properties are often in remote areas or very small villages with limited access to amenities. While this lifestyle suits many people, bear in mind that owning a car is a requirement and you may end up paying extra for certain services.

Finally remember that government help, in the form of loans and grants, is available for environmentally friendly improvements, such as insulation or glazing.

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