The British love affair with French property continues
- Credit: Archant
Recent exhibitions and official figures suggest that, despite ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations, French property is as popular as ever with British buyers and, rather than returning to the UK, increasing numbers of British expats in France are applying for French citizenship
Judging by the visitors to the UK largest French property exhibition in January, it’s business as usual for British buyers in France. Despite ongoing Brexit negotiations, estate agents said house-hunters at The France Show were determined not to let political uncertainty delay their plans to buy a property in France.
“I’m really impressed,” said Beaux Villages’ Lee Redican of the turnout. “We’ve had a wave of Brits wanting to buy because of Brexit,” he said adding, “they want to buy between now and before the UK leaves the EU.”
There was also a now-or-never momentum at the Coldwell Banker stand where Pauline Bruneau said they received many serious enquiries. “We thought that, because of Brexit, it might be a bit quieter,” said Pauline, who admitted to being pleasantly surprised. “We’ve had good, serious leads – not as many as before – but more solid. It’s been more quality over quantity,” she said.
Figures from the Notaires de France seem to bear this out with Brits continuing to top the list of foreign buyers of French property in 2016, as they have done in each of the previous 10 years. In fact in 2016, Brits accounted for nearly 1 in every 3 purchases by a foreigner. British buyers were the top foreign buyers in all areas of France except Île-de-France, the north-east, the Côte d’Azur and Corsica.
According to the latest report from the Notaires de France, the number of French property transactions completed in the last 12 months to October 2017 hit an all-time record of 958,000, up 15.6% compared to October 2016. More recently we have noticed an increase in interest in French property on our property listings website France Property Shop. In January 2018 traffic to France Property Shop increased by 30.5% year-on-year and was up by 32.9% compared to January 2016, before the EU referendum.
In terms of the British nationals already living in France, there don’t seem to be many signs that they are selling up and moving back to the UK. In fact many seem to be cementing their life in France by applying for French citizenship. In the last three years the number of British nationals applying for French citizenship has increased nearly tenfold – from only 386 in 2015, up to 1,363 in 2016 and then up to a staggering 3,173 in 2017.
Practical concerns such as healthcare benefits, voting in presidential elections and avoiding queues at customs partly explain the rise, reported French newspaper Le Figaro. But many expats say they are also driven by their loyalty to France and a desire to remain European citizens, post-Brexit. Le Figaro also reported that many of the applications came from Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the area with the largest number of British expats, especially Charente and Dordogne.