Filed under : French Tax & Legal 101

Why France is still Drawing Expats

A recent survey by the UK Post Office's International Payments division indicates that France is the preferred destination for expatriate relocation, ranking above Spain, the United States, and Australia. In a time of increasing inflation; unemployment and a precarious mortgage market, the stable and indeed strong French property market and French mortgage market seems to continue to draw expats.

Euro Exchange Rate Outlook

The European Central Bank reaction to inflation by increasing interest rates pushed the Euro/USD exchange rate above 1.40 in mid-March. According to RBS, at the end of the second quarter of 2011 the EUR-USD exchange rate will be at 1.38; the Pound to Euro exchange rate is expected to be at 1.18.

France, World Tourism Leader in 2010

Continuing its eight year reign as the most visited country in the world, France yet again claimed the top spot in the annual survey by the UN World Tourism Organization with 78.95 million visitors. Paris was the most visited city in France.

The top four most visited countries in the world in 2010 were:

1. France
2. United States
3. China
4. Spain

Update on the French Mortgage Market

• The French mortgage market is the third largest in the European Union after the United Kingdom and Germany. While the mortgage market in the UK and Spain suffered significantly during the fina ncial crisis, the French mortgage market has remained strong, with limited defaulting. Due to a strict upfront financial analysis for each dossier, French banks have succeeded for the most part in lending what borrowers are able to repay. This has created a great deal of stability for the French real estate market.
• Approximately 80% of properties in France are purchased with mortgage financing.
Mortgage rates in France were at their lowest point since World War II in 2010; in the first quarter of 2011, rates remain at levels lower than historical averages. With interest rates at historical lows in 2010, there was both a greater demand and supply of loans for French real estate purchases.
• According to the European Mortgage Federation (EMF), in France, new lending increased by 38.5% from a year earlier.

Rising French Property Values – Building off 2010

French property values increased sharply in 2010 and have continued the upward trend through the beginning of 2011. The Ile-de-France region has seen the most significant increases, though the rest of France has too seen property values increasing. The rising values in 2010 were more consistent across old homes than across old apartments, though both property types increased in value.
• The French real estate market is returning in strength to the volumes of the 2000 – 2007 period, with nearly 800,000 transactions in 2010.
• The first half of 2011 is anticipated to be busier than the second half of the year due to rising interest rates, next year’s presidential elections, and proposed inheritance tax reforms.
French properties in the historical districts of major cities in France are expected to increase in value by 10% or more in 2011.
• The real estate market overall, while expected to continue to rise in value, will not be as explosive as in 2010, with more moderate price increases already observed in the first quarter of 2011.


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