Agents confident Brexit will not impact French property

There are 112 days until the referendum of the UK’s membership of the EU. While some are concerned about the potential impact of a Brexit upon the UK, estate agents in France are confident that interest in French property will continue to flourish, no matter what the vote.

The Financial Times “poll of polls” suggests that the UK is leaning towards an “In” result, with 46 per cent of voters wanting to stay, ahead of the 38 per cent wanting to leave and the 16 per cent of people still undecided. While UK home sales have slowed slightly at the start of 2016, which some have attributed to uncertainty, French agents continue to enjoy strong interest in British buyers.

“We have not noticed any slowdown in demand from UK purchasers,” says Trevor Leggett, Chairman of Leggett Immobilier. “Our pipeline of offers accepted and Compromis de Vente’s signed is exactly 40 per cent higher than this time last year (which was in itself a record year).”

“Back in 2013, David Cameron promised to hold a referendum on Europe if the Conservatives were to hold onto power in the 2015 General Election. Since their victory and thus despite the certainty of a European referendum, we have just seen a record year with an estimated 800,000 sales made in 2015, as noted by the French National Association of Estate Agents (FNAIM),” adds Sextant. “Buyers have certainly not been waiting around and making the most of current market conditions: favourable exchange rates, great mortgage rates teamed with low prices.”

Even if the vote was to leave the EU there would be little in the way of substantial change to UK citizens living in France, adds Leggett.

Indeed, there are three possible outcomes of the vote, from the UK retaining its membership in the EEA (existing rules on freedom of movement would still apply) to a compromise solution (which would see special arrangements created for citizens), or no agreement at all. Even in the latter scenario, the EU “tends not to impose visa requirements on wealthy countries”, notes the agent.

“Whatever the outcome we see little in the way of substantial change to UK citizens living over here,” comments Trevor.

Indeed, many non-EU buyers already purchase French property without any problems, with uncertainty for UK buyers instead surrounding the smaller details of transactions, such as tax and mortgages.

With double-taxation agreements expected to remain unchanged, Brits would still not be taxed twice on income, reassures Sextant, while borrowers from Switzerland and Finland are bound to similar mortgages processes as EU members, which Brits would be likely to emulate, should a Brexit occur.

In terms of visas and travel, meanwhile, Britain has never been part of the Schengen agreement, so UK buyers will already be accustomed to the passport control requirements when travelling between EU countries.

“We don’t believe British interest in buying French property will be dampened, nor do we believe that the dream will become unattainable or unviable,” concludes Sextant.

Still not certain about the impact of Brexit upon your French property plans? It is also worth bearing in mind that those who have lived abroad for less than 15 years can still vote in the referendum.