In this post I wanted to provide you with some of the key data housebuyers are likely to need: How do prices of older houses vary across France? Where can you find the best bargains? Where can you rule out because it's just too expensive? And where are other foreigners spending their money?
Which are the best value departments in France to buy a house in 2023?
The table below shows the current 12 month median prices for older houses in each department of France. The median is the middle value in a data set, so 50% of property sale prices are smaller or equal to the median and 50% of prices are higher or equal. The figures are in euros per square meter, and they are based on Notaires de France data for 507,219 sales.
I have ordered the departments from the cheapest to the most expensive. Sorry, but there are no canals in Creuse, the cheapest department, but you'll find the northern section of the 'Canal entre Champagne et Bourgogne' in the second cheapest, Haute-Marne, and the Canal de la Meuse in... you guessed it, Meuse!
One day when I feel 'arty' I might put all of these figures onto a map for you. In the meantime here is a department map to refer to.
|(90) Territoire de Belfort||1670|
How do French house prices compare to English house prices?
How do these prices compare to the UK? Well, in Feb 2020, Rightmove released a report (based on 2019 data) showing the different values per square metre across England and Wales. The study was based on an analysis of over nine million EPC records (Energy Performance Certificates) to calculate the average size of houses in an area, and the average asking prices of 1.2 million property listings. The research gave a national average asking price per square metre of £2,954. The most expensive area was the 'W' postcode in West London, which cost homebuyers a whopping 0,427 per square metre. The cheapest place per square metre was the SR postcode in Sunderland (£1,417).
Here are the regional variations they uncovered in more detail.
We can easily conclude that there are many areas of France which are much better value than even the cheapest areas of England!
Which are the cheapest French cities?
Do you prefer the buzz of a French city? Here's a useful map from Notaires de France. It shows the median selling price of older houses in cities the 1st quarter of 2023.
Generally speaking, and excluding some noted hotspots and bargains, the cities in the south are the most expensive, and those in the north are the cheapest. In cities, people are looking for connectivity, transport links and employment opportunities. The cheapest city, by quite a large margin, is Châteauroux in the department of Indre at €134,000, followed by several close together, Limoges at €186,000, Poitiers and Amiens at €190,000, and Troyes and Rouen at €194,000. The most expensive city in mainland France is Toulon at €468,400, followed by Lyon at €422,000, Montpelier at €418,500, and Marseille and Aix-en-Provence at €399,900.
How are house prices changing in France?
The overall picture on price movements is very similar to that in the UK, as both France and England have been affected by the wider economic environment. As you can see, over the year city prices went up right across France, and this increase was quite significant in nearly all areas. The biggest mainland increase was 12.8% in Amiens, and the smallest increases were in Caen and Rouen.
These dramatic increases have now slowed and the market is rebalancing. According to Notaires de France, a gradual deceleration of the price increases began around September 2022, and their projections from preliminary contracts at the end of July 2023 indicated that prices of old dwellings in metropolitan France were actually falling. It will be interesting to see what their next report reveals, as Notaires de France expected prices to decrease by 1% year-on-year.
Are non-resident foreigners still buying in France?
Notaires de France tells us that sales to non-resident foreigners reached their peak in 2015 at 2%, but after that, they fell almost continuously until 2020, due to the effects of Brexit, covid, and the economy. The foreign market share bottomed out in 2021 at 1.3%. However, in 2022 through to the 1st quarter of 2023, foreign purchasers returned to the market, and accounted for 1.8% of older housing transactions.
Where are foreign buyers investing in property?
In the north, the Ardennes attracts the most foreign buyers, who snapped up over 5% of properties for sale in 2022. In central France, Nièvre, in which you'll find the Nivernais Canal, is a hotspot for foreign investors. Creuse, a less populous area and one of the cheapest in France, also makes it into the top eight. The beautiful departments of the Charente, the Dordogne, and Lot, continue their dominance in the south west. In the south east the Alpes Maritimes with its mountains and its desirable coastal strip, is inevitably strong. Finally, the Haute-Savoie with its alpine ski slopes is a key destination.
Here's a great map showing foreign purchasers of older dwellings. You'll need to head for the pale blue areas if you don't want to be in among all the Americans and Brits! If, on the other hand, you like being somewhere where there are strong ex-pat communities - head to the darkest blue areas.
French Property Data Sources
Want to know more? There are two main sources of property price data in France. The first is INSEE, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. This is the French equivalent of the UK's ONS, the Office for National Statistics. The second is Notaires de France, who produce their own price index based on transaction data. Unfortunately, the full data reports are only released annually, and there is a time lag, so to get an up-to-date the information has to be supplemented by interim reports and other sources of data. These include the FNAIM (France's national association of estate agents), the larger French estate agents such as ERA Immobilier, Century 21, and Laforêt, and the property portals, such as SeLoger and MeilleursAgents.
Well, I hope you found this interesting. Of course, when it comes to choosing a property in France, there are many factors which will be relevant to you and your personal circumstances, but if you're looking for the best possible house in your budget, you should certainly be paying close attention to the huge price variations across the country, just as you would in your own country.