FOR MEMBERS

French property roundup: Tougher mortgage rules and France’s favourite seaside town

French property roundup: Tougher mortgage rules and France's favourite seaside town
Photo: Xavier Leoty/AFP
From updates on tax deadlines and mortgages to the seaside town that the French dream of moving to, here is The Local's weekly property roundup.

Let’s move to La Rochelle

The south western seaside town of La Rochelle has been voted the town that the French would most like to move to in a new survey. The town, in the département of Charente-Maritime, beat Biarritz and Toulouse into second and third place.

As well as its position on the coast – and within easy striking distance of some of France’s most beautiful coastlines along the Vendée – La Rochelle benefits from relatively low property prices and mild weather. It’s also a fun town with good shopping, a lively nightlife, a buzzing schedule of festivals in the summer and a very good rugby team.

Mortgage rules get stricter

From January 1st 2022, French banks will bring in stricter rules concerning mortgages. Limits on how much people can borrow, and how long they can take out a mortgage for, will become legally enforceable rules for French banks to follow, rather than guidelines as they are at present.

You can find full details on the new rules HERE.

Tax reminder

If you already own property in France, you’re probably due to pay some tax soon. Autumn is the season that three taxes fall due; taxe d’habitation which is paid by higher-earning householders and second-home owners, taxe foncière which is paid by all property owners and the contribution à l’audiovisuel public, or TV licence.

You have to pay the TV licence even if you never watch French telly, although there are some exemptions for groups including the elderly. Full details on all three taxes and their 2021 deadlines HERE.

Essential items

The most important thing you ever buy for your home in France could be a fan. It’s very rare for private accommodation to be air conditioned, and especially in the cities small apartments can get very hot in the summer – a survey of young French people found that 54 percent said they suffered in the summer from accommodation that is too hot.

Every year in the early summer, shops run out of electric fans as people rush to stock up as soon as the weather turns, so now might be the perfect time to buy this essential piece of equipment to ensure that you stay cool and collected next summer.

Property vocab

Property comes with its own specific jargon in all countries and France is no difference, but one phrase that you will definitely need to know is mètres carrés.

France is of course metric so property is measured in square metres rather than square feet so it’s wise to know exactly how much space you’re talking about. In cities like Paris, where tiny apartments are standard, it’s common to hear people casually discussing exactly how many square metres their place has.  

J’avais 25 mètres carrés à Paris, j’ai déménagé en banlieue et j’ai 35 mètres carrés pour exactement le même prix – I had 25 square metres in Paris, I moved out to the suburbs and now I have 35 for exactly the same price.

READ ALSO The A-Z of property restoration in France

Dream Home

If you have €1.2 million, then Marseille’s oldest property is up for sale. The four-storey building in the Vieux Port area was constructed in 1535 and is officially classified as the oldest building in the Mediterranean city.

L’hotel de Cabre has a fascinating history including being narrowly saved from demolition in 1943 and then being moved 15 metres on rails to its current location in 1954. As you would expect, it’s officially listed as a historic monument, so any buyer will have to follow tight rules on renovations. It is currently occupied by a hairdresser on the ground floor and apartments above and is listed for sale on the popular buy-and-sell internet site Leboncoin. 

Property tip of the week 

If you’re doing any kind of renovation then SIRET numbers are your friend. Everyone registered as a business is required to have a 14-digit SIRET, which is basically a business registration number. The business uses it for tax and admin purposes, but if you are hiring tradesmen it also allows you to check that they are correctly registered.

People might say to you ‘I’m siretted’ but check that they are registered for the trade you’re hiring them for – ie whether they are a qualified electrician rather than a builder who also does some electrics. You can find out how to check the numbers HERE.


Member comments

  1. Reasonable property prices? Arriving in the Loire Valley in the late 1990s, and missing living near the sea in Sussex, we thought to buy a pied a terre in La Rochelle. Paris prices! Great restaurants, interesting museums, good market, VI cinemas, but it’s all become too desirable.

  2. Unfortunately I don’t always understand The Local’s advice on regional holidays either. More than once the Auvergne has been recommended as a beautiful area with a low population, quite empty. That may have been the case 30 years ago but the volcano region is nowadays so subjected to over-tourism that erosion has become a big problem as well as the destruction of the environment. The Livradois to the east of the Auvergne is a better place to visit.

Become a Member to leave a comment.Or login here.