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French property hotspots: The coastal areas that buyers are flocking to

The French property market is the busiest it has been for decades, with coastal properties particularly in demand. France-based real estate agent Joanna Leggett shared three of the biggest hotspots for buyers.

French property hotspots: The coastal areas that buyers are flocking to
Royan, on France's west coast. Photo by XAVIER LEOTY / AFP
We haven’t seen anything like it in well over 20 years of selling French property. Our agents are working flat out to field enquiries from both domestic buyers and those from the UK and beyond.

It’s not just us though – the Notaires de France tell us that there have been almost 1.2 m sales across the country in the last 12 months. To put this into context we’d normally expect this figure to be around the 900,000 mark. 

READ ALSO 5 of the most affordable places to buy property in France

So why is French property so popular? 

Well, obviously the sunshine, food and drink, stunning landscapes, and quality of life play a big part. But these are ever-present. What’s really different at the moment is: 

  • a post-pandemic urge to buy country property that is light and airy, with access to outside space and fresh air. 

  • cheap finance – mortgage rates have been at historically low levels (although rising now).  

  • value for money – property prices in Paris, London and other European cities have risen steadily, whilst country property in France has lagged behind. This means it is great value by comparison. 

There has been plenty of research, undertaken since the Covid lockdowns, that shows a clear shift in buyer need.

One report (undertaken by UBS Wealth Management) said that 75 percent of people polled anticipated permanent lifestyle shifts, including less time spent in the office.

READ ALSO How to get rid of squatters from your French property

This anticipation is turning into reality as buyers look for second homes that have a good-sized home office – the most sought-after properties have high speed internet (preferably fibre) and a home office with a view.

Hotspots 

Pretty much all properties on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts are in great demand. However, we have identified three hot-spots where buyers, from both France and overseas, are fighting over the few properties that are coming on to the market. 

Bay de Morlaix in Brittany is the perfect location for a holiday home and is particularly popular with buyers from Paris and the UK. The sandy beaches and sheltered coastline make it perfect for family holidays. 

Morlaix itself is famous for its unique architecture, with pretty, timbered, houses that were built for the wealthy linen traders. Carantec is another popular location, and you will pay an average of €2,500 euros per square metre there, which makes it great value as a holiday-home retreat. 

Second home owners: What can you bring to your French property?

Royan and surrounding resorts in Charente-Maritime are also hugely popular at the moment.

They are close to the airport in La Rochelle which has flights from European cities including London, Manchester, Bristol, and Dublin. The microclimate in this area makes it the second sunniest part of France and the beaches are sandy and safe, with a choice of wonderful seafood restaurants on hand.

The average cost of an apartment in Royan is €3,490 per square metre, move inland to neighbouring Charente and prices are even lower. 

Cote d’Azur – the Mediterranean cost is ever popular, but the Leggett office in Nice is seeing a daily influx of both local and international buyers.

It is best summed up by Dan Norris, who runs our team in the area: “The market is on fire at every price level. It is dominated by local buyers and you need to move quickly. Properties are selling within hours of coming on the market, this is the craziest I have ever seen it“.

Prices are higher of course, with an apartment in Nice costing an average of €4,240 per square metre. Head up into the hills and you get views out over the Mediterranean, but fewer crowds and lower prices. 

Joanna Leggett is Marketing Director of Leggett Immobilier, the leading international estate agency in France, www.leggettfrance.com 

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SECOND HOMES

Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

Towns and villages through France are raising property tax rates for second-home owners, with many areas voting for the maximum 60 percent increase.

Tax hikes of up to 60% for French second home owners

Even though France’s taxe d’habitation (householders’ tax) is in the process of being phased out for most French residents, second-home owners are still required to pay it.

This year more towns have voted to increase it, and others have recently gained the ability to add a surcharge for second-home owners, with French daily Le Parisien reporting that the residence tax “continues to soar.” 

Municipalities in zones tendues (areas with a housing shortage) have the ability to choose to increase taxe d’habitation by up to 60 percent for second home owners.

From 2023, several new areas – including Nantes – will join the list of zones tendues, meaning they will be able to vote to increase taxes for second-home owners.

This year, large cities such as Bordeaux, Lyon, Biarritz, Arles and Saint-Jean-de-Luz saw their city councils vote to increase the tax at the maximum 60 percent.

READ MORE: Why some French cities are increasing taxes for second-home owners

Some areas have still not chosen to apply the increase, but those looking to buy a second home in France should beware that these municipalities could vote to increase the taxe d’habitation in the future.

In 2020, cities on average voted to increase the residence tax on second homes by 248.50, in comparison to €217 in 2017. This year, that amount is expected to be even higher.

On top of the taxe d’habitation, second-home owners also have to pay the separate taxe foncière property tax, which is itself rising sharply in many areas.

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