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Happysort

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  1. Hello Forestfire. I apologise sincerely if my evidently inane ramblings have proven boring. In your posts you have accused people directly and by implication of being a) boring ill-informed c) madly wrong d) Crazy e) wafflers f) biased g) pontificating and more so. You may well be right in all these things of course. However, you rarely are specific and it is therefore difficult or impossible for people to answer or respond your criticisms. It's sort of as you view postings as opinions if you loosely agree, but see them as waffle hyperbole or pontificating if you don't. So, you criticise people for saying 'xyz' because they don't have experience of the Spanish market; but when they respond by saying they have, you never acknowledge but effortlessly change tack and start to criticise another aspect of their views such as wording or bias etc. You may get more stimulating input of interest if instead of putting non-specific broadsides into contributors, you tried saying something such as "why do you think xyz" or "I don't agree because..." or "don't you think.....". If not, you may find that many people just will give up offering their input and contributions because nobody wants to get slated and patronised because of their style or unfashionable views etc. The forum then becomes incestuous or cliqueish with only bullet-point witties, personal anecdotes or cut-and-paste media outpourings all putting forward the 'approved' line. It is a classic danger many forums drift into. However, I wish to bore you no further so will make no further contribution other than to wish the forum well. Final PS - oil trading rates - excited 'no' but slight positive indicator 'yes' given it is better than predicted some time back but as I do not work in the oil industry, do not trade oil futures, or live in Texas, then my opinion presumably has no value.
  2. Actually our views are closer than you perhaps think. If you look at what I said rather than perhaps what you wish I'd said, I did not say that US economists were saying everything is rosy. What many (but not all) are saying is that things are bad but not as bad as they'd perhaps thought - they could of course be saying the opposite in a week's time as is the way with economists. I think with respect you are not looking at the position in totality - your quotes from the US are 100% right as of yesterday but, er, unfortunaterly the dollar has been rallying for quite a few days now and this originates to before the quotes you've mentioned. If you look back to earlier in the week, many 'experts' (who can be wrong) were attributing stronger sentiment in the dollar certainly to worries about the Eurozone but ALSO saying that certain economic indicators including economy growth forcasts for the USA are now better than expected even 2-3 weeks ago. I can cite sources if you wish. I actually have a fair background in International finance etc having worked for major banks for 20+ years. I am not an economist but I hope I am able to read and I hope form a balanced opinion - unless that vast international experience and opinion is of no value whatsoever because you think I have not lived in Spain ? If I had lived in Bilbao for 5 years would you find my opinions more tolerable ? In terms of 'pontificating' - this is a persuader word people use to try and discredit an opinion that conflicts with their own when they are perhaps not comfortable with doing so based on facts or reasoned argument. I agree 100% with you that I do not live in Spain and have no immediate plans to do so - though you are mistaken that I have no plans to invest in the Spanish market. I have considered it and followed it fairly closely for some time. I am not sure what you find so upsetting that you object to anyone commenting that has not lived in Spain and implying that their views are of little value. I hope I've covered your objections here previously but to repeat - have you for example no opinion at all on Georgia/Russia? China/Tibet ? If everytime you tried to express a view on the subjects or an opinion, would you be happy if your views, however well reasoned, were dismissed as irrelevent sîmply because you had not lived there ? This thread is not restricted to people who live in Spain or those who live in a given town or calle. I have only voiced an opinion which of course may be wrong. Why is that so threatening ? At worst it could be seen as nieve and ill-informed. In closing, I agree with you totally that there is a lot of depression amongst expats in Spain. I do in fact know many and have said clearly that I know for many times have been bad, are bad, and may get worse before they get better. I have said nothing to the contrary and have said I know problems are huge. Is that so different to what you have been saying ? All I have said is that there are property pockets in Spain where the position is less gloomy even today, and these pockets may well be those to show some recovery earlier than many others. There are very large Spanish regional variations in how bad the position is perceived and even largish variations within regions based upon property types and specific locations. I'm sure you would agree ? I know this not because I live in Spain now, but because I read. Is that so desperately controversial ? If so I apologise - I had not intended any offence by citing some alternative views. I was also trying to raise awareness of the European context to all of this - showing that what happens in Spain is not dissimilar to what happens in other expat destinations and is affected by what happens ego in Russia the UK or France. We can share and learn from each others experiences but again I sincerely regret and apologise if that attempt to broaden perspective has caused offence.
  3. Hi MaxD. Fortunately we're we're not likely to take a severe hit because we purchased in late 2002 so did not really buy at peak prices which was around 2006. The biggest problem we have is now being 'stuck' logistically and unable to move to where we need to for my business. We came here to give our children a second language and culture and if I am truthful, to escape some of the major problems of life in the UK today. I could speak for hours about the advantages of living in France as opposed to the UK though France is not paradise - it has its own problems as I guess does Spain and eveywhere else. I think many who moved to Spain and France (the two biggest destinations for UK folk) were influenced by the "buy a Spanish castle for 1.50 pounds and live like kings" type programmes showing sand, rivers, mountains, kirs, vineyards, sangria, beautiful houses etc. Its not fashionable to admit it but I think deep down many people were ! I want to be clear though - I and hundreds of thousands of others who moved permanently to Spain or France have few if any regrets. There are quite a few who do and I respect their views but my hunch is that they are a minority. In France the stats are that about 25%-30% of British incomers sell and return to the UK after 2 years or so. I think I have read similar stats for Spain where I think the figures are slightly higher. The interesting thing is looking at what little research has been done regarding these people in France and Spain who want 'out'. The stats seem to show three main groups a) There are those who saw their property as an investment and business opportunity - free holidays and holiday rental or letting income plus appreciating capital etc. This is rather more common in Spain than France but did happen here also. Those who moved permanently but found it impossible to obtain income (usually due to language problems or no work to be found) and could not survive so had to run for home - this is a huge problem for Brits in France. Not sure about Spain. c) Those who having arrived, just could not settle and integrate (eg missing family back home) and hated the place - for whatever reason. Most of the research I've seen shows some differences between France and Spain in this respect. The Brits who want out in Spain have a high number in category 'c' and 'a' whereas in France most brits selling and leaving quickly come into category 'b'. It's an interesting fact that many Brits leaving France for the UK actually express many regrets at having to go. I'm not sure about the same groups in Spain. Anyone want to comment ? I suspect the category 'a' people in Spain, and the fewer of those in France, are those having the biggest financial and perhaps emotional problems and I really sympathise. The trouble is that for around 40 years now in the UK we've had a very highly mobile population. People are always selling and moving every few years for family or job reasons etc. We all became used to being able to sell quickly and 'move on' when we wanted or needed to - often making a few bob in profits in the process. Trouble is, we took that mindset with us to Spain and France. People are too quick to attribute 'greed' to UK people overseas which is unfair - it is far more the case that many of us just did not understand that in Europe virtually no other country has a society like that. Particularly in the south, Italy Spain and France have NEVER had markets like that historically, people just do not move house every 3-5 years because they move jobs or have itchy feet or just fancy a change, or want to make a profit on their house. Therefore the 'pool' for sales, turnover and quick 'out' opportunities was always very very limited to new foreigners arriving with money in their pockets. Particularly in many new developments in Spain, the slightest unease in the home-base of this pool of buyers (UK Germany and Holland for the most part) was always going to hit the market staggingly hard because there was no 'local' market demand as such to take up any slack. This has come as a rude shock. What for the future? I just guess a couple of things about Spain based on hunches. 1. Spain has certain attractions that cannot be eroded by the international markets. Sun, sea, sand and countryside. Worth noting that this year record numbers of Brits stayed at home for their hols due to worries about the economy - and predictably many got washed out in the usual dismal northern european summer weather. I wonder if they'll make the same decision next year ? 2. Worth noting that quite a few smart economists are pointing out that the international economic situation is NOT that bad. Many say the situation is being badly over-hyped by the media searching for stories and thereby talking down sentiments. Check out the dollar's recent recovery as US analysts have started to grasp that their economy is actually not in as bad a shape as they thought. 3. There are places where disposable money is increasing rapdily - notably eastern Europe such as Russia, Poland, and the Baltic states. All cold places with at best unpredictable summers. 4. The big falls in many Spanish prices are starting to make some Spanish property look sensible again (much was hopelessly overpriced for a long time) Add these things together and I'd guess that Spain is going to start to look atractive again in the not too distant future. However, any recovery is going to hit the nicer traditional slightly more prestigious properties (eg villas etc) in the better locations close to beaches and facilities. If I had money, which I don't, I might be tempted even in late 2008 or early 2009 to start trying to driver a hard bargain on some properties of that type. I admist I think it'll take a lot longer for any recovery to filter down to the small apartment in a modern development on a hillside outside of town type properties etc. I think owners there may need to hang in for longer. Cheers;
  4. Yep, no secret at all ! I have a largish 19th century character French property in a village centre in north west France. About 3,000m2 of land and about 255m2 living space. Need to move for business reasons somewhere further south as we're in the wriong place for my business - we are not returning to the UK . 2nd separate small house. It's been on the market for 7 months with little interest. It is not a price issue - there are simply no buyers at any price in large parts of France. To be clear (and I'd be staggered if the same wasn't true in Spain) there are two markets in France. There are those properties purchased mainly by foreigners - usually brand new apartments nearish holiday resorts or more commonly here, big old character rural properties conveniently placed for absolutely nowhere. For these types of properties in France a massive percentage of potential buyers have been British or foreign over the past 15-20 years and they have kept the market for these properties going for many years. Now the Brits are staying at home due to fear (and lack of funds) the market for these types of property has taken a big hit. Most local buyers (ie French) these days want modern properties usually close to major centres of work. They will buy older properties sometimes but location and condition are key. In essence the two markets are largely separate - and I have seen similar things in Spain. We thought we'd been smart(ish) by buying and old character town house in a village centre but it hasn't made any difference - there are no buyers of any description at the moment other than for smaller modern properties of the sort I mentioned above and some prestige properties in commuter belts of major cities. Just to repeat the message though - some proerties in some parts of France are not only holding up well but actually showing some price increases. Paris central areas obviously but also the modern houses on the outskirts of big centres are doing OK as in general are a lot of traditional quality individual coastal properties with character and location - they're taking longer to sell and suffering some price reductions but nothing compared to the big new holiday developments of apartments and such along the med or the restored barn type properties 30k from anywhere else. It is very very painful for some foreign residents here. I've said on the French house price thread that theres a big story to cover here about Brits in France (and I suspect Spain also) who have properties that are unsaleable and of virtually zero value. Many are slipping further and further into financial troubles as a result of being 'stuck' and having capital tied up they simply can't access and maybe won't be able to for several years let - in some cases the losses could be very large indeed . Vast sums of money are potentially going to be lost. I am surprised this story hasn't been picked up yet by the media - or if it has I haven't seen it ! Sad times for sure.
  5. I think the word I used 'debate' was perhaps imprecise. Perhaps 'vitriol' would have been better. My apologies if so. My intention was to try and broaden the perspectives away from confrontation and the attacking of individuals at a quite personal level simply because they expressed a view. Words like 'bias' can be provocative, usually used as influencers and indeed they are best avoided - to state someone's views are biased usually is to imply a degree of irrationality or that they are perhaps unable or unqualified to think objectively though I note you've described your own views likewise which is even-handed. I hope I am as unbiased as I can be (I have tried but I cannot see how I have any bias in this at all as I am not affected but I could be wrong) but of course you may be right at a philosophical or psychological level - we could have a big and largely irrelevent debate about whether any view expressed anywhere is unbiased or not but what does that give us ? I think with respect you are also mistaken in your implication that somehow people living in Spain are the only ones who can have a 'true' perspective. On that basis nobody anywhere would ever be able to have or express a legitimate or qualified view on anywhere unless they happened to live in the place concerned. That view if taken further, gets more and more into chaotic waters. Are your views on property prices and effects in a town say 50kilometres from you, absolutely valueless because you do not live there full time? If that's nonsense, at what point would you stop say your views don't have any value ? Would people buying in say a development outside Madrid say your views are irrelevent because you don't live there ? Vigo ? No, it can't be such. I always welcome views as informed and rational if they are well expressed and based on some facts/analogies whether they originate from Spain, France, China or the moon, and providing they avoid sideswipes, sarcasm and point-scoring at a personal level. I think my point is, and I suspect that of Einstein, is that these things are relative and one's life experiences are worth sharing. It is up to readers whether ot not they agree with the position taken. To dismiss the views with contempt and agression simply because the person concerned doesn't live full time in a given domain is I think flawed. In terms of Spain, during this difficult period I hope we can all agree its experiences will be broadly similar to other places in the world which experienced large scale development targetted pretty much at foreign investment / immigration. This happened in parts of France and Italy also, Portugal Greece and places like Croatia have all slipepd into making the same mistake. In troubled times, these developments targetted fairly specifically at foreigners with disposal investment cash, are always the ones to take the biggest and disproportionate hits. There is nothing uniquely 'Spanish' about this phenomenon. Times are very hard in Spain I know - and they are just as bad here in France. Yes, these 'bad times' affect many but if one looks at the European stats, some things in my opinion and experience are clear a) foreign investers who have invested in large 'vacation/retirement themed' apartments and villas outside of traditional centres almost always take the biggest and most painful hits - way way way over and above the owner population averages The next most significant pain is felt by those who have purchased farm type properties (fincas in Spain or fermes in France - no real difference) miles away from anywhere and done them up. This group are sometimes called 'neo-colonists' ! These properties can frequently be totally unsaleable to local people and only incomers buy them - which is why if incomer purchasers disappear because of troubles 'back home' then the property can overnight find it has in effect zero value. c) The local population sub-prime purchasers - those who have stretched themselves on low or moderate incomes to buy marginal properties on big urbanised developments or, in the UK, some outer city flats and ex-council houses etc. These properties are only saleable if demand across the board is very high. d) The traditional local 'medium or upper income' buyers of traditionally desirable homes in traditionally desirable locations purchased mainly by locals and used as family hiomes for commuting/life etc. I am sure that anyone in any of the above first three groups will feel a lot of trauma and see the world as slipping into disaster - they are right to do so. Nothing I or anyone else says is going to change their views or make them feel better about the world and they do have my sympathy. Those in the fourth group will also take some pain, but in times of recession the stats are very very clear globally - the people in the fourth group ALWAYS suffer LEAST in terms of hits of price reductions. However, even in Spain people in these categories are not 'the majority'. If one has a house and has no intention of moving/trying to sell, and no intention of trying to raise capital against a house sale or loan, then declines in the value of your house are only conceptual. You may worry a little at night about what your family will inherit one day but actually it has no effect at all on your day-to-day life. There are millions upon millions of people in this category. I doubt someone of modest living standards in a city centre rented flat in say Bilbao, loses much sleep at night worrying about the problems of British owners in brand new developments on the med coast. They'll be getting on with their lives as normal and only worrying about the security of their job. There are tens of millions in this category - their lives are unaffected by primary house price reductions - though there may be some secondary knock-on effects via construction job losses of course. Point made well by others earlier. I also know in all countries that some good properties in very desirable areas are holding up well - reductions are minimal and not a serious concern to the owners lucky enough to have had the money to buy quality in the right location in the first place. They are not too worried either. Above all, the queestion is - are we talking about house prices per se, or the entire economy? The two are linked but are not the same thing. Many may feel the effects of the economic downturn, but not necessarily directly any affects of house price reductions. I think in all, these were the sorts of points Einstein was making and it is hard to see where his logic is falty. I could disagree with him if someone made a good counter-argument, but I can't rubbish his views just because he doesn't live full time in Spain. In closing, I'll have a friendly bet that once things pick-up there will be millions who have their horror experiences of this current grim situation, but probably far more millions for whom this 'recession' will just have passed-by with little if any affect. I could be wrong of course though ! In passing, I am NOT one of the fortunate. I am trying to sell in France and can't. This is causing us serious inconvenience though luckily not financial grief.
  6. I keep hitting the wrong key and posting too quickly ! To continue I know millions who if asked about the social upheavel and catastrophe of the 1980s miners strike etc under Thatcher who would say "didn't affect me at all" Of course if you ask people in the mining towns or surround areas you'll get a different picture of course. I could go on............. I think Einstein71's view essentially is that for very large numbers of the Spanish population, foreign or otherwise, the current troubles and forecast troubles are unlikely to change their day to day lives much. From my own experiences in France I suspect he has a point. French people for example, have never really seen property as speculative quick-return investment. It is the foreigners who get burned - at least those who did not do their homework on location etc. His point about the Spanish property bubble is also I think well made. I know some of these vast developments around certain of the costas and a good indication was that for many years local Spanish buyers would not touch many of them with a barge pole. Many of them always described these developments as white elephants for the future and openly laughed at the prices foreign incomers were paying saying "they'll be sorry! ". The same thing has happened in France. Many UK buyers paid far too much for properties that were in the middle of nowhere and if there was ever even the slightest property price correction/downturn then the property would be unsaleable - because local French buyers would simply not touch that type of property in those locations at any price. Even in the Spanish 'boom years' I know large numbers of sensible people who were desperately trying to raise warning flags to foreign investers but who were drowned out in the clamour of greed for a quick return. The point is, that these downturns always affect some more than others and also, whilst it may offend our sense of justice, the reality is that very large njumbers of people are simply not affected by them - and not just the super-rich either. Will this downturn be different ? Not sure but I doubt it. In some parts of Spain propert prices are stable if in desirable areas. People owning and perhaps buying in those areas are unlikely I think to suffer massive trauma over time. PS - I am not an EA and have no connection whatsoever to property sales, rentals etc.
  7. Just reading this thread. Let me say immediately I live in France not Spain but I'll make a hopefully helpful observations - and NO I am not Einstein71 ! Seems to me much of this debate is rather pointless because in essence the various parties are just stating their opinions based upon their particular circumstances and perceptions. People rarely have the same perception of anything and use (legitimately) stats to try and 'prove' their perception is right. If one reads what Einstein71 is saying, he's not saying anywhere that Spain doesn't have big troubles or issues. To me, as an unbiased reader, what he seems to be saying is just that these troubles have to be seen in context - and this surely cannot be wrong ? To give perhaps a less controversial example - I know people in the UK (very large numbers) who when the subject of say the early 90s crash and recession comes up, will say in all innocence "what recession/crash ?" That's because for various reasons they were not particularly affected. This also is true for millions of others. I know millions who wehn asked
  8. Hi again Picnic. Sorry about the truncated reply above - not sure what happened. I've read the article - don't know what to say really. I agree with some bits, find others amusing, and some parts I disagree with. A few obvious thoughts - a. I smile at all these experts now stating that they have brillantly analysed that the market is at best stagnant. In some cases as recently as a few weeks back they were still predicting increases overall for 2008 when even a bluebottle could have told them otherwise. They certainly have 20/20 vision in hindsight ! b. Outside of the major metropolitan areas, only a hopeless optimist (or an EA) could possibly have thought French prices would remain totally immune from the Uk and USA troubles. In vast areas of rural France foreign buyers are a very major factor in the local housing markets and indeed the local economy. Many of these fund their purchases and renovations based upon second mortgages secured upon perceptions of the value of the main home in the UK or sometimes holland/germany etc. Given also a high turnover (the figures I have seen suggest around 30% of UK buyers try to sell again in 2 years or less) having a constant supply of new British and other foreign buyers with money in their pockets and the confidence to spend it, was essential in maintaining French rural prices. If these buyers suddenly lost confidence that their UK finances were secure, what did French market experts think would happen ? The 'UK buyers' of course would vanish which would drive prices down ! This happened in the 3rd / 4th qtr 2007 in our general region. The foreign buyers practically vanished overnight. So, how in even mid 2008 people could keep arguing this would have no effect is entirely beyond me ! It's also worth noting that this is having a knock-on effect on French buyers. That's because a lot of rennovation, decoration and landscaping work here has simply vanished along with the British buyers and renovators. Many local artizans are saying their business has declined 50% overnight. Some are saying they have little or no work at all because so much of their business was built around British custom. This means that the local economy suffers and some French people contemplating buying also have 'the jitters' and are not doing so. c. I've said on the other thread that my hunch is that prices though may stabilise towards year end and perhaps even pick up later in the year or earlier in 2009. I think that because in my opinion French housing outside major centres continues to offer fantastic value for money virtually unique now in western europe. I think those buyers around will start to believe that it may not be worth putting their plans on hold for say another 12 months just in the hope of saving another say 3000euros via decline over time if the price currently is already reasonable and a bargain by UK standards. Hard to know - we'll see. Cheers;
  9. Hello Picnic Just a quick note to make you feel the effort in pasting is worthwhile ! If you look at the other thread about French property you'll see these issues are being thrashed out. Having said that, there really isn't a lot to debate. The market is flat in parts, and declining in other areas. I've re
  10. Yes, I sort of sympathise with this view but buying isn't just a question of looking at what the market is doing today but rather trying to assess what is likely in the next 6 or perhaps 12 months (unless one is by nature and genetics an "observer"who never commits because one is always waiting for things to offer better potential deals etc) I don't know any more than anyone else does, but as I've already said, my hunch is that current downward spiralling of prices is unlikley to continue for very lengthy periods and is also unlikely to achieve the vast percentages possibly on the cards in the UK and USA. I'd have to yak on for hours to give my logic for this but in the end it doesn't matter two hoots what I think - it's what individual buyers think at any given time. If I was buying I might be tempted to enter into the market before 2009 and negotiate hard. I have been caught out badly before in the crash of the 1990s by "waiting for further falls" which just never came. Always a difficult call.
  11. As the same time I have three of my work colleagues who have just bought (in the Haute Savoie) and they are incredibly bullish. Yes, I suspect if one is lucky enough to have the funding then now, and perhaps for a moderate period ahead, it is a good time to buy. There are certainly bargains to be found and good deals to be struck. I think some areas will always be a less risky bet than others - it is the same in this region. Around here coastal properties are usually a good bet and so far at least, they have avoided the price collapses of elsewhere though there are so very few buyers around that even these houses (normally snapped up) are taking a long time to sell. I also agree about many EAs living on borrowed time. It is just a question of maths. They can't go on for ever with few if any commissions coming in. Ah well. Maybe something unexpected will get things moving again - interesting to note that just as gloom about the eurozone economies starts to reach new depths there are some grains of hope appearing over in the USA.
  12. Yep. At least the EAs in your region seem a little more realistic than many !
  13. You'll certainly be able to find old barns /farms a plenty etc needing rennonvation around here and at 'cheapish' prices ! As I said above, in general locals don't want them unless they're 101% done and have special attractions etc. Sounds like you're in the wrong place !
  14. Hello all! Glad my comments got some responses. I am talking generically about north western France. That's an area generally including parts of eastern Brittany, western Normandy, and parts of Pays De La Loire - say parts of dept 35, Dept Mayenne 53 and parts of Loire Atlantique dept 44, large parts of Manche Dept 50, and east a bit into Sarthe and parts of Calvados. Now I know a few people may respond irately and say "this is daft - property prices in St Malo, Nantes, Granville etc are showing year-on-year increases" etc etc. The trouble is, that this is a VAST area (and beautiful). Yes there are a few property hot spots - usualy by the coast in holiday towns which are very middle-class and also very desirable by large numbers of wealthy parisiennes reaching retirement age and who want a small pavillon by the sea - St Malo in Brittany and some coastal areas around NANTES are good examples of this. Yet talking only about these hot-spots is deeply misleading. It's like talking about English house prices based upon say the stockbroker belt in Surrey and a few other such areas and saying prices in southern England are stable. In reality, property prices in the majority of this vast area have in a few cases stagnated, but for the most part tumbled in recent times as a result of nerves and the complete absence of buyers etc. In this area, I know some agents who say (not publically of course) they have not had a serious buyer enquiry for ANY property in months. A few others report still a few buyers around for entry level or renovation projects say below 70-80k euros, but none at all for any mid-level or more expensive properties. In some of the larger towns in this big area there is still movement for town centre apartments - usually mainly local French buyers but even in towns many slightly more expensive house properties and going nowhere. Outside of the main towns it has been dead for some time. If one looks at some internet selling sites, one can see quite a few houses on several times over a period (sometimes because nobody bothered to delete the original ad) and you can see the history of price reductions over time. What I said in my first note is correct - come and look around in this area and any buyer can pick and choose. They would be spoilt for choice. Many houses have been on sale for a year or more. I have been told now that in terms of securities etc (very rare in France but that is another story) most financial institutions assume that houses in this area will take 18 months - 2 years to sell on average and that prices are falling heavily. EAs continue to ignore this though for the most part and try to talk the market up. Yes I understand this, but behaving like an Ostrich just insults everybody's intelligence. Yes I know there are some exceptions and some superb properties that have sold quickly because they were exceptional - but they are also exceptionally rare in having a quick sale ! This of course is good news for buyers - Finnish or otherwise ! Be aware thought - a point though about cultural differences. Many French sellers are far more patient than other nationalities - perhaps their financial and logistical drivers are less compelling. Even so, they will negotiate but are not usually offering the same 'reality driven' reductions that many foreign sellers are. One can see literally hundreds of cases where a house asking price after 12 months has been reduced by, wait for it, 1000euros ! Hardly worth waiting for if the asking price is 200k ! I don't know, but I'd guess for the most part these tiny reductions are from French owners. They may have built in their 10% negotiation factor, but they're not goign to offer it up overnight if at all ! Many British and other nationality owners are under more time pressure. Work, family, return to the UK, financial cises etc - for all these reasons they cannot afford to take a 'cest la vie' approach to wait and see what happens in 2009 or 2010. They are more likely to be making the needed market adjustments (ie slashing prices) and to try and catch the eye of the very very few buyers out there. I don't know this, but common sense tells me to suspect that through 2007 and particularly 2008, many foreign owners permanently living here have slipped further and further into financial trouble and in some cases crisis. I suspect this because it has always been the case as official stats show - France is a notoriously difficult country to earn a living in and many expats have been forced to return to their country of origin for work and/or sell their houses to re-finance. Prior to later 2007 this was not too hard, but now in many cases they suddenly find this is impossible because there are just no buyers and their houses have at least temporarily, virtually zero value. I suspect sooner or later this is a 'big story' that's going to break and get news coverage - keep your eyes open. This is a slight digression but relates to this forum because the key point is - there are bargains and good deals to be had in France now. I have believed for many years that outside of a few towns, property prices in France have continued to offer fantastic value to foreign buyers. I believe the slumps of 2007/8 will making it even more so. In terms of property types - most French people here really only want to buy a type generally known as a pavillon. These are modern properties built in various styles but for the most part of rendered concrete blocks (or similar) quite often elevated with a garage underneath, a small external veranda and patio, and access to the front soor via stairs. They are VERY popular in most parts of France usually because they are easy to maintain and heat/cool etc. Many have reasonable 'green' credentials if really modern builds. Many are build on new lotisements (building sites/developments) on the outer edges of towns or villages. In this part of France most French people avoid older 19th century or earlier property. Yes of course they do buy them if they are very cute and renovated to very high standards or in a stunning location. Many French people in this area do not have the interest and sometimes the money, to engage in large scale renovations. Many speak openly that they think the (primarily) British incomers who sometimes live for 12 months in a tiny caravan alongside a heap of stones trying to renovate these ancient buildings, are completely and utterly insane. For many years they were proven wrong of course as prices rose for these older properties but I know many now who whilst sympathising personally, still have a slight wry smile of "we told you so" when they see foreigners now struggling to sell these properties ! Thanks for listening !
  15. Had to add an observation to this discussion having lived in France for several years and now trying to sell a house here - with no success in 7 months it must be said. 1. Institutions such as FNAIM and others EAs have fallen in total disrepute since late '07 (assuming they were not beforehand!) Even in June '08 some of their members and surveys were insisting that French prices nationally would be stable or show only tiny falls in 2008 - and their attempts to 'jiggle' the stats to prove this were frankly so bad as to be embarrassing. I'm not sure when exactly in 2008 they will reluctanly have to admit the situation has become less than rosy. I wait for the day ! Many of course also only report 'sales' - they ignore the vast and ever growing numbers of houses 'on the books'. I do not know for sure, but I would be surprised if these were not at record highs. The EAs here in the north west are bulging at the seams with unsold and sometimes unsaleable properties. First rule about buying in France currently - ignore what EAs are telling you. 2. Yes, in France as elsewhere there are large variations. Old apartments in the more fashionable areas of Paris and a few other big cities may be doing well and in fact to some extent skewing the stats, but the reality is that Frenchy property prices have fallen significantly in 2008 for the vast majority of overseas buyers because as a general rule, they are not buying in the centre of Paris etc ! 3. Many overseas owners now have houses in France that have, in effect, zero value. Absurd exaggeration? Well of course yes - if one is trying to sell for 150k and one dropped the price to 45k then it may sell. However, the key point is that in many areas for many types of property THERE ARE ABSOLUTELY NO POTENTIAL BUYERS AT ALL - FRENCH OR FOREIGN !! 4. I see one agent has advised cross-marketing from Uk to French buyers and vice-versa. Useless advice. Nobody here for years has targeted their ads exclusively at one market or the other - one would have to be nuts to do so. Why eliminate a huge percentage of the potential buyer market by do doing? For many property types the French and Overseas buyers markets are completely different. For example - in our area in general French buyers ONLY buy modern pavillon type properties. They won't touch older properties which they perceive to be expensive to run etc. By contrast, most non-French buyers want the older character properties restored or otherwise. In this area if you have an older style of property, unless it has some very unusual features which single it out, then it won't matter if you deck it out with tricolours and and shout "allez la Frace" out of loudspeakers - the French will just not touch it with a bargepole. Shifting your ad in desperation to an EA that looks a bit more international or a bit more 'French' will have no effect usually. 5. This situation has hit hard in 2008 BUT it began earlier in 2007 - though of course most EAs refuse to see this. Again in our area there are beautiful houses in great locations and at reasonable prices. They have been on sale in some cases for 18 months and have not had a single viewing. I know many who have dropped their prices now to levels close to their original purchase price in 2003 or earlier - yet STILL they can't persuade anyone to come through the door for a look even after lots of advertising and 18 months of waiting. So, what conclusions from all this? Well, I'll contend that the French market now offers bargains of a type not available since 2003/4 or perhaps before. Some sellers are getting desperate and this is always good for buyers. My hunch is that this is a very good time to buy because the obvious question is will this last or will it get even worse for sellers and therefore better for buyers. Well, I wish I knew! What I do think though is that for a whole host of reasons too complex to discuss here, the French housing market is inherently more resistent to vast changes and collapses than the US or UK markets. I suspect recent legal changes to the economic framework made by Sarkozy with more coming, will generate a bit of a boost to the economy and therefore also the house market here later this year eand through early next. My 'hunch' and it is no more than that, is that price slips may well be edging towards their bottom. It's always a gamble for buyers in these situations to buy or wait for better deals. If you're a potential buyer, good luck whatever you decide. PS - don't get hung up on the "10% reductions" indicating how bad things are. Many French sellers outside of a few hot spots have always built-in a 10% margin into their asking prices for the purposes of negotiation downwards just as was common in the UK. They may not give it up easily, but it was always there and does not necessarily tell you anything about the state of the market if you achieve it.
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