The Housing Market in Languedoc, South of France


by Montblanc - Date: 2007-04-12 - Word Count: 1016 Share This!


Thursday, April 11, 2007

I am told that Everyone is talking about how the housing market is leveling off, that it is going to fall etc. So I have been asked to give my opinion of the housing market for buyers and sellers in the Languedoc for 2007/2008.

Well, I can answer that in three words "I don't know" - OK, that is four words really. Of course the simple truth is that no one can know anything about what will happen in the future, but that rarely stops people making predictions and encouraging others to spend money on sure-fire investments.

I have often heard that there are three "truths" in life - these are; lies, more lies and statistics - statistics inform me that the average price of property in Languedoc has increased by 92% since the last quarter of 2000 - statistics tell me that the average price of property in the region is currently between 1900 euro and 3400 euro per square meter of living area, this range also includes the local variations in village, town and city prices.

There are graphs and charts showing "trends" indicating a levelling off of price rises which are currently around 10 percent per annum - on the other hand I have statistical "proof" that the prices properties have been selling at over the last ten months have fallen slightly on average.

The statistic I find most amusing is the number 1687, this is the number of estate agents listed in the department of Herault in Languedoc (the one I live in) - this is absolutely crazy - there are only 537 bakers listed in the same department and about half the number of garages.

I cannot believe that I need three estate agents to serve me for every bakers shop, nor that there are twice the number of houses being sold, compared to cars in this area every year.

Add to this number the hundreds of people living on the "fringe" of the real-estate business, specialist websites in the UK acting as aggregators for the French agencies and the ex-pats living in France selling "consultant" services to house buyers or acting as "stringers" for local agents - they cannot all be making a living and it may be the twittering chatter of their grumbles which is the fuel for rumors of prices levelling off and bubbles bursting etc.

It is all codswallop - Languedoc is the most popular region in France for living in - OK the vague concept of "Provence" gets a lot of kudos and publicity, but Languedoc is where the French people consistently vote as being the region they most wish to live in (L'Express) and is the region which has been getting the most investment, communications infrastructure, health and education improvements, logistical support and is officially designated by the government as planned to increase the population by 50% by 2050, or earlier in some reports.

Every single community in the region is obliged to release more building land, this is already having an effect of the price of a single building plot, I have seen some plots of land offered for half the price that similar plots sold for last year.

Local mayors are about to be given, from June this year, more powers and discretion for planning and building permissions.

The TGV from Perpignan to Barcelona is well under way and all that remains is the link from Perpignan to Nimes to be sorted and you will easily be able to go from Montpellier in the morning, have Lunch in Barcelona, do some shopping and be home for tea for a few euro in complete comfort. Just think, Paris to Barcelona in under 5 hours, door to door.

The motorway from Paris, over the wonderful bridge in Millau, through to Montpellier is finished (and a lot of it is free) and the last bit from Pezenas to Beziers is underway at last.

This now makes three major motorways from the North and others planned.

A string of National and International airports will be fully operational this summer from Marseilles, Nimes, Montpellier, Beziers, Perpignan and Carcassonne.

Add to this over 300 days of sunshine every year - the best wines now in France (possibly the world) - the Mediterranean is the same sea which kisses the gravel beaches of Nice Cannes and Antibes, except in Languedoc it is golden sand - ski slopes on the doorstep - cheap booze and fags an hour away in Spain (plus exciting food after you get bored of yet another isle flottant or tarte aux pommes) - the best health service in the world and the oldest established hospitals in Europe - scenery and landscape which varies from the garrige which can hide an army (which is why the maquis were named, after the scrubby bushes typical of the region) to gorges and hillsides straight from a fifteenth century Chinese water colour - and a quality of life where speed cameras are curiosities and policemen still ride bicycles (Ok mountain bikes and they do have guns).

There are a lot of houses for sale as some people are upgrading to larger homes (hence the thousands of agents) this is in fact keeping prices artificially low for a while, but house prices, in my humble opinion, are inevitably likely to continue rise (probably more slowly), especially for the sort of classic properties they are not making anymore.

There are also a lot more people coming to buy property now, most have realised that prices are not going to fall in general - for sure there are some properties being offered at "optimistic" prices - but overall the trend will continue to be a growing demand and a steady supply.

As most of the people I meet are looking for a traditional home with "charm", and the ones being built by the ton are boring formula boxes on the outskirts of towns - now is probably the best time to buy, given that there is a very wide choice due to the French families relocating to the Munchkin villages of Tupperware villas.

OK - so I am immobilier number 1688 (a much more interesting year anyway), so I would say that wouldn't I - contact "Honest Tony" at - at@coast-country.com - the British Estate Agent in the South of France - http://coast-country-france.com/

Related Tags: france, provence, languedoc, french property

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