French Property: Paris Reaching Record Heights, Mountains Resisting the Downturn


The recessionary economic conditions have been as hard on France as they have been anywhere else in Europe, but a feature of this particular global recession is that it seems to be "picking" on certain specific areas and not others.

The French property market is a case in point. According to a recent report in British conservative publication The Economist, French property is the most overvalued in Europe. This assertion is based on the difference between values paid for properties and rental values and it is made by the magazine despite the fact that French property values decreased overall last year.

Certain zones, however, appear to be unaffected by the economic crises. In the most recent report from the Chambre de Notaires de Paris-Ile-de-France (the association of public notaries in the Paris region), the median price per square metre for second-hand apartments in Paris hit a record high of €8,410 from May to July last. This means that for a very modest-sized four-room apartment in the French capital, you’d need to have access to about €850,000 and even if you want an itsy-bitsy studio of 30m2, you’ll need €250K.

The high prices fly in the face of logic when you further consider that in the same period, the number of transactions was actually down on the same period from the previous year by a whole 20%.

The notaries’ comments don’t betray any mystery in their cool analysis of the situation: “Apart from these variations which are of a modest nature, the overall trend is one of stabilisation of prices.”

Sun, Snow and Stable Prices: The Massif des Aravis is the most expensive area for 2nd-hand property in the Rhônes-Alpes Region

Sun, Snow and Stable Prices: The Massif des Aravis is the most expensive area for 2nd-hand property in the Rhônes-Alpes Region

In the Alpine department of Savoie, the figures for 2012 that have been just presented also tell a tale of an area untouched by the cold winds of downturn. There was no dramatic drop in the number of transactions and no discernible drop in values.

It would appear that the secondary residences on the snowy slopes have continued to attract attention, bringing in more and more foreign buyers in the process, and with more attention being focused on the higher-quality properties.

The total annual spend of the thousands of skiers and their entourages who flock to the winter resorts of the Rhône-Alpes region is estimated to be in the region of €6 billion and more than 85% of that figure pours into the two departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie.

Generally speaking, it’s a a more well-off clientèle that tends towards winter sports; and one that is increasingly spread throughout the world and not just Europe. In the year up to the end of August 2012, 28% of all purchasers of mountain property came from the same department, 15% came from Ile-de-France (Parisian environs) and 13% of all purchasers were foreign. Of this latter category, 34% were British, 26% were Swiss and 13% were Belgian.

In terms of the most expensive areas, it’s the Massif des Aravis that leads the way with €4,424/m2 for second-hand property, followed by the Massif du Mont-Blanc at €4,267 and the Massif des 3 Vallées at €4,244/m2.

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