13 December 2010

House Prices - We Talk About Them Here As Well ...

Not as often as they do in the UK granted but it’s s till a topic of conversation especially when prices are supposed to be going down.

Many ex-pat properties on the Côte are mortgage free of course with people selling up in the UK and downsizing when they retire out here so they’re not particularly interested in what house prices are doing – it’s their heirs who will benefit from any rise in the value of their parents’ bricks and mortar. Despite this legacy for their kids (in France you have to leave your property to your children), many couples would prefer that prices do not rise, as France has a wealth tax which kicks in at quite a low level so the lower the value of your property, the less tax you need to pay.

But of course, human nature as it is, house prices do come up in conversation quite often, especially when friends you know are trying to sell, or buy, but down here it’s quite easy to work out how much a house is worth. You take the square metres of living space and multiply it by the value for your area and away from the coast there is a uniformity of sorts in that most decent properties are worth around €5,000 per square metre.

On the coast in say Cannes or Juan les Pins, the price can rise to €6,000 and even €7,000 per square metre, but in those cases you are paying for the view of the sea and the caché of being where the action is.

A Room With a View in Monaco
Of course, Monaco is in a different league where square metreage is almost irrelevant, with even a modest one bedroom apartment raking in a cool €1 million and that’s without a view of the harbour. A view of boats bobbing up and down uplifts it by 50% and another 50% is added if you can see the Palace. It’s all to do with tax of course, or no tax to be precise and therefore the sums are easy: work in Monaco, pay a one-time hit for an apartment (there are very few houses) at a cool €45,000 per square metre and pay no income tax for ever – well as long as you live there.

Cap Ferrat - My Ideal Spot
Not far behind is Cap Ferrat where there are fewer apartments but fabulous villas all over the promontory. The price of a square metre in Cap Ferrat according to Chesterton Humberts (the up-market estate agents) is around €32,000 which means if I could move my house down there (a landslip maybe?) it’d be worth a fortune.

But then, once we’ve finished discussing house prices, we move on to estate agents who charge a staggering 6% for selling a house and sometimes on a first viewing. Even down here, estate agents are the scourge – especially when they pick up €60,000 for what seems like 5 minutes work!

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