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Tips to succeed at French property investment

16th June 2009 | back to article listings BACK    print this article PRINT

French property, like the sector in so many countries around the world, has taken a few blows of late, a major and obvious one being a slowing of the flood of UK investors to a trickle. But not everybody has given up; for there are those who would suggest now offers good reasons to buy.

Reasons for the drop-off in buyers have not been hard to find. Selling a home in the UK to fund a French property purchase has been harder in a depressed UK market. The credit crunch has made finance harder to get hold of. Would-be buyers have been worried about their incomes and the pound has been weak against the euro.

However, for those who can invest, now does offer some significant advantages, namely lower prices and a buyers' market, according to Sarah Bogard of law firm Furley Page, who specialises in French property law.

She said: "The right property and the right purchase structure could see you hold onto a property ripe for capital growth into your future - and that of your family."

Moreover, she noted, there are ways that people can get round the issue of sterling's low value, commenting: "With the current weakness of the pound against the euro, it's worth investigating different ways to fund a purchase. For example: if the seller is British could all parties involved agree on a sterling purchase to avoid the exchange rate? Would you get a good deal with a French mortgage? Would you consider buying with a friend or relative? There are even estate agents who can help you advertise a property swap."

All of these could offer possibilities and suggest that perhaps some of those who may have thought twice about investing need to do so again - only perhaps more positively and creatively. With the Canterbury-based practice reporting a recent rise in the number of enquiries about French property purchases, it may be that there are plenty of people in Kent and elsewhere doing just that.

Of course, the issue of the euro may also now be moving in favour of the British buyer. At the turn of the year the two currencies were close to parity, but sterling has gradually gained ground and the last week has seen it hit its highest levels this year on the back of new indicators suggesting the recession in Britain may be bottoming out.

That factor saw the value of the pound top 1.17, but today it has risen above 1.18 following the latest inflation figures, with Reuters noting that the slight fall in the consumer prices index from 2.3 per cent to 2.2 per cent in May less than expected suggests the risk of deflation is fading and has therefore bolstered sterling.

Should positive news of this kind continue with a slow but gradual fall in UK inflation potentially enabling interest rates to stay low and help the bottoming of the recession progress into growth then sterling may rise further. So while there may be many ways canny investors can get round the weaknesses of the British currency, as time goes on they may not be so necessary.

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