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The price of rural property in France has risen by an average of 14% on a year-by-year comparison, helped by a distinction in the market between town and country real estate that does not exist in Britain.
France, like the USA but on a smaller scale, is large enough for areas of the property market to operate independently of one other – though not indefinitely or over the long term. Sale prices in 2004 were higher compared with 2003 by an average of 14% in country areas.
The Société d'aménagement foncier et d'établissement rural – SAFER for short – was set up by Général de Gaulle to help consolidate the tiny French farms of the 1950s into more economically sized units. SAFER’s records show that the average price of a country house, 71,000 € in 1996, and now is 164,000 €.
Several current trends are helping to push up prices. The French are beginning to buy out of town because it is cheaper and seen as more agreeable. They are getting used to travelling longer distances to work. They have always cherished their country homes, which are often located where their families come from.
Three million second homes are in French hands, a great deal more than those owned by the foreigners about whom there is much, not always well-informed, controversy.
In the Berry and in parts of the Creuse, for example, estate agents say eight out of ten sales are to the British. These newcomers are no longer just retired people and sometimes they are acknowledged to benefit the local community. Whole families are arriving from the UK with their children, who increase the number of pupils in rural schools that might have otherwise have closed.
Europeans from neighbouring countries tend to look in the frontier regions for their French holiday homes but, as the SAFER points out, 86% of buyers of rural property are still the French themselves.
Article from our July 2005 E-Newsletter