Brits are still the main foreign buyers in France

Brits are still big buyers in France (c) Jose Ignacio Soto - Getty Images

Brits are still big buyers in France (c) Jose Ignacio Soto - Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Despite Brexit, or perhaps because of it, Brits are still buying homes in France in great numbers, although their budgets are more modest

The British are still the main foreign buyers of property in France, new figures show, although they are spending slightly less on their homes than in previous years.

Despite, or perhaps because of, the ongoing Brexit saga, Brits made up 27% of all non-resident international homebuyers in the Hexagon last year, compared with 22% in the previous year, according to the latest Observatoire by French bank BNP Paribas.

That puts them ahead of the Belgians, Germans, Swiss, Italians and Dutch who are, respectively, the next most common foreign buyers.

However, with the pound still weaker than in the days before the 2016 referendum, buyers from the UK continue to tighten their purse strings. Their average budget fell by 7% last year to €234,276, although this is still more than the average house price in almost every department in France. The Norwegians, by contrast, typically spend an eye-watering €611,824 on a French home.

Although Provence and the Côte d'Azur are the top choice for international buyers overall, the Brits favour the regions of Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie in south-west France.

Patrick Joseph, of My French House bilingual estate agents, was not surprised by the findings. "We have also seen an increase in enquiries and sales in Paris and Ile de France, which are possibly Brexit-related as London is not so attractive now," he said. "And with the recent news of 100 million visitors expected in 2020, and property prices keeping strong in Paris, and most main cities, we think this trend is set to continue."

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The findings of the BNP Paribas report echo a survey carried out by French Property News in April on visitors to our French Property Exhibition at Olympia London last September. Of the respondents, only four in 10 said Brexit had affected their plans to buy property and almost half were planning to buy a property within the next 18 months, while 27% hoped to buy further down the line and 10% already had a French home.

Four out of 10 had a budget of €200,000 or less while another three in 10 had a budget between €200,000 and €350,000.

The most popular areas were the old regions of Nouvelle Aquitaine (which includes Dordogne, Lot-et-Garonne and Charente) and Occitanie (which includes Languedoc-Roussillon), although Provence and Brittany were also popular.

Carolyn Pratt of Idimmo Châteaux & Prestige estate agency in Charente-Maritime, said: "Although we at Idimmo have seen a drop in the number British buyers, they are still actively looking…and buying! There seems to be a general feeling that they have had enough of Brexit and just want to move on with their lives."