British investors still thirsty for French vineyards


British investors are still thirsty for vineyard properties in France, say agents.

French real estate has enjoyed something of a return to form in 2016, with low mortgage rates and signs of property prices rising adding to the country’s long-held lifestyle appeal.

“We have had a tremendous summer in Bordeaux and so the vendange (grape harvest) may be a week or two earlier than normal if the sun continues to shine,” says Rory Ramsden, Home Hunts Consultant in Aquitaine. “2015 was probably the best year for a generation, and 2016 is likely to be a good year too. Some early ripening vineyards, such as in Pessac-Léognan, will start their whites early in September but expect the dry whites to mostly come-in during mid-September and the reds, for the most part, in the first half of October.”

While Brexit has seen the exchange rate move away from the favourable conditions of last year, Home Hunts says that British buyers still have an appetite for French vineyards, but they are more cautious.

“Buyers are biding their time and while doing so are making extra sure that their target vineyard really does meet all of their requirements,” explains Ramsden.

“The quality of the land is key. Whilst institutional investors may be the only ones who can afford to buy a dreamy chateau in the Medoc with up to 100ha of vines, others are considering alternative appellations to Bordeaux.”

Buzet, for instance, is in the south of the Lot et Garonne on the southern escarpment of the Garonne river. Bounded by the Garonne river to the north and east, and the Landes forest to the west, the appellation extends over 1,800 hectares.

“While a St. Emilion Grand Cru may be a safe investment, buying in a smaller less well known appellation could give you the ‘difference’ that your marketing needs when you want to appeal to young consumers with a disposable income. And you are likely to be able to buy more vineyard for your money…leaving more to spend on the vineyard home renovation of your dreams!”

For more on how Brexit is impacting the French property market, click here.


French agents report “record sales” of property to Brits

11th July 2016

French agents have seen “record sales” of property to British buyers this year. Despite the UK’s recent Brexit vote, agents have actually seen enquiries for real estate increase since the referendum result.

Leggett Immobilier, one of France’s largest British-owned estate agencies, saw sales rise in the first half of 2016 to levels “higher than ever before”. While many thought that the UK’s vote to leave the European Union would leave British buyers shying away from places in the sun, waiting for the uncertainty to pass before signing on the dotted line, Leggett has found the opposite: During the second quarter of the year, when referendum fever was building, Leggett saw a 7 per cent rise in sales agreed year-on-year, while the first half of 2016 saw sales agreed rise 21 per cent.

Since the referendum result, enquiries have remained high, with over 1,000 coming into the company’s sales support team in the past seven days. Coupled with this, Leggett Immobilier has had 34 offers accepted in the past week – above the weekly average.

“We have received over a thousand client enquiries on properties since the referendum result; and our agents across France have been agreeing sales to British purchasers all week,” says Trevor Leggett, chairman of Leggett Immobilier.

“Sales figures released by BNP Paribas International this week show that there has been a 29 per cent increase in international buyers last year, which was was lead by GB & Irish buyers who now account for 35 per cent of the international market.

“Although many people may be feeling uncertain in the wake of the referendum result, it seems that the British love affair with the relaxed French lifestyle, the wonderful culture and climate and the beautiful affordable property available here remains as strong as ever.”

Conditions are certainly unchanged in France since the vote. House prices have remained relatively flat for some time, which means that properties remain affordable for overseas buyers. In fact, according to the latest figures from the Orpi network, notes French Private Finance, the margin for price negotiations has balanced out, which means that buyers and sellers have adopted more neutral views on the asking prices of their properties, which means that vendors are more likely to be flexible to woo buyers.

John Luke Busby, private clients director at the broker, points out that a French repayment mortgage can be found at a 20-year fixed rate of 2.15 per cent, with potentially as low as 1.55 per cent rates available in Paris. As a result, property is actually cheaper than it was a year ago, even with the pound weaker now than when it was at its peak against the euro. Taxes have also been made equal for all buyers, regardless of whether they are in the EU or not, which should help reduce uncertainty among buyers.

“It is important to note that we have not had any withdrawals or cancellations on the basis of the referendum result from any of our ongoing applications. Whilst there will clearly be reflection around making new investment decisions in the French market for some UK buyers, investors from around the world are continuing with their purchases in France,” says Busby.

On, the morning after the vote, the number of enquiries for French property rose 400 per cent. As well as Brits, Americans are also able to secure some striking bargains, thanks to the strength of the dollar against the euro, particularly in areas such as Paris where prices are beginning to show signs of growth.

Chris Matthews, who recently bought a French home in the Dordogne from Leggett, comments: “We think it’s important to show our commitment to the EU and would not allow Brexit to get in the way of what we want to do with our lives.”