Real estate prices and activity in the Aude – 2006
The property market in the Aude in 2006 can be divided into two halves. The first half of the year saw a lot of buyer activity, stable pricing, and a strong inventory of properties for sale in all price ranges.
In July it turned around completely. Little buyer activity and weak inventory of properties lewd to very low sales activity. The second half of the year was a buyers’ market without buyers. Or at least English speaking buyers, the part of the real estate market that I work in.
The slowdown in July was no surprise, the Aude property market always slows down in the summer. Usually though, it picks up in mid-September and stays healthy through October, slowing through November and December and picking up again in late January. This year there was no recovery in September, in fact activity declined after the summer.
I haven’t been able to identify an external force that can be identified as the cause of the slowdown.
The FNAIM report on market activity and prices for the third quarter of 2006 shows that sales for ancien – existing as opposed to new build – houses were down 1.7% on an annual basis and that prices decreased 3.8%. The figures are for south east France and include Languedoc.
A caveat – beware average prices.
In the Aude, and probably all over France, there are four distinct property markets.
- houses to renovate
- the low end – first time buyers and buyers with a limited budget – under 150,000 euros
- the mid market – 150,000 to 500,000 euros
- the high end – over 500,000 euros
People who buy houses that need to be renovated are a breed apart. They know that in the Aude renovate can mean anything from completely rebuilding to renewing the electrical and plumbing, adding a roof terrace, and redecorating – like this old bakery in Montlaur on the market for 76,000 euros – to rebuilding the interior of a grand home – like this chateau in the Montagne Noire on the market for 595,000 euros. Both are excellent value for money but are in totally different classes of the market.
The highest demand is for property under 125,000 euros. This segment of the market is strong and prices rose through 2006
In the mid market prices stayed the same although there were adjustments for overpricing by optimistic sellers.
Prices in the high end market dropped dramatically in 2006. This segment of the property market is over-supplied and properties take as long as 18 to 24 months to sell. If you have 400,000 euros plus to spend on a property in the Aude look at properties in the 550,000 to 650,000 price range. Make an offer. You may be pleasantly surprised.
If we just look at average price changes we would think that prices dropped across all segments of the market. They didn’t.
2007 Outlook for property sales in the Aude
Prices – House prices will increase again in the Aude but in 2007 the only increase will be in the low end of the market. Demand is strong for habitable houses with any kind of outdoor space and the scarcity of those properties will continue to drive up the prices.
Prices in the mid market will remain unchanged.
Prices at the high end will continue to drop. New properties coming on to the market in this sector will be more realistically priced than they have been in the past couple of years.
Activity is going to increase slowly starting in late January and peaking in June. It will decline through the summer. Will it pick up in September? Your guess is as good as mine.
The legendary, wealthy south of France has seen strong demand and
stable prices that are expected to continue. Agents claim that buy to
let properties are gaining popularity amongst buyers of new real
estate. In Provence, Lot and Aude, prices have risen recently, and
Languedoc is being touted as the next big thing.
With such a diversity of landscape and its great climate, it’s easy to see why this part of the Languedoc Roussillon is beginning to attract people’s attention. Better still, as the Aude is relatively unknown to foreign buyers it represents one of the few areas in France where property prices are still relatively cheap. This is particularly true for properties further inland where it is possible to buy a ruin for less than €50,000 – although at these low prices buyers must be prepared for some serious renovation. However, French vendors in the Aude have begun to see the potential of the foreign market and prices have started to rise quite rapidly. It is nevertheless a buyer’s market, with the local population keen to keep small villages alive, so it is always a good idea to try and bargain people down.
Generally speaking you can expect to pay around €160,000 for a three bedroomed cottage in the agricultural areas of Lauragais and Haute Vallée or Corbières and Minervois, whilst a similar property nearer to Carcassonne or Narbonne and the commuter belts surrounding the motorways will set you back about €220,000 (expect to pay at least €50,000 more for properties with pools and large gardens). Prices on the much sought after coast are naturally higher, where small studio flats cost around €75,000 and three bedroomed modern villas currently cost around €250,000. Apartments in Carcassonne and Narbonne are also quite expensive – a three bedroomed apartment in the centre of these towns currently costs on average €200,000.
Is Property in the Aude still a good investment?
I don’t see the Aude turning into Provence in my lifetime – I hope – but the climate is welcoming and it’s beautiful. Tourism is increasing every year and the Conseil General de l"Aude has targeted it an important economic sector to be developed.
Just remember – do your homework before you buy a house in the Aude.