The French feelgood factor

A vibrant atmosphere at the latest French Property Exhibition hints at good times ahead for the market

There was an overriding air of positivity at Olympia 2 for the latest French Property Exhibition. The latest in the series of hugely popular exhibitions, organised by French Property News, the event attracted more than 2,500 visitors over the weekend of 24-26 September. Here, they could chat to property agents from across France, lawyers, financial experts and other specialists either to start making their dream a reality, or to seek advice about a property they already own in France. They could also listen to a range of seminars from experts in various French fields.

With 28 sales since April, Charles Smallwood, of Agence l’Union, is enjoying a resurgent year. He said of the exhibition: “We saw a lot of people who have been hanging around for a while and who have now decided that it’s time to get on with life. As a result of the exhibition, we’ve already arranged rendez-vous in France with people to view properties. It’s still a great time for buyer. There’s about 20% knocked off the value of houses, coupled with a 15% increase in the strength of the pound. So, effectively, that’s 35% off the value of a house.”

Meanwhile, when talking about the property market, Fran�oise Belman, of La Maison Personalis�e, observed that there have been more British buyers returning to the market in the last six months. Louise Wilkinson, of the France-based English building company Wilkinson-Pell, also noted that they’ve done more new builds in the past 12 months than in the previous two years.

The feelgood factor extended to the visitors too. Monique and Geoff Jones, from Wimbourne in Dorset, are close to retirement and planning the next stage of their lives in France. “We are using the exhibition to meet property agents, and work out where might be the best place for us to move to,” said Monique. “Basically, we’re getting as much information as we can,” added Geoff.

Peter Knight, from Harlow, Essex, meanwhile, is deliberating whether or not to proceed with a project on a barn. “I’m looking to buy a property,” he said, “and I’m just interested to see what the general attitude is to buyers, what the market’s like and what kind of enthusiasm there is at present for selling property.” He went on to conclude: “It’s been interesting. I’ve looked at properties and spoken to a couple of builders to see what kind of help is available with my project.” When asked why he was looking at buying in France, Peter’s answer was, quite simply: “Because it’s my favourite place to go!”

If you missed the French Property Exhibition but would like to know more about moving to France, and indeed, about life in France in general, don’t despair. The France Show is taking place at Earls Court from 14 to 16 January. For more details, visit www.thefranceshow.com

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