Posted by admin in Politics, Property Investment, Property Letters, The South of France | May 14th 2005

Principal Source:
“Les References immobilieres du notariat – Novembre 2004.”
Chambres des Notaires des Alpes Maritimes
18 Rue du Congres
06000 Nice

The laws, decrees, appendices, amendments and numerous administrative circulars that confront the seller and the buyer of property in France can quickly become a fearful source of confusion and disorientation. Fortunately the knowledge and professionalism of the Public Officer, the Notaire that we all must turn to as our intermediary, and in whose responsibility and absolute integrity we place our trust, is not only a legal obligation, but a real source of confidence.

The area covered within the Department of the Alpes Maritimes stretches from the Italian border in the East, and includes a coastline which is renowned throughout the world, a famous and historic hinterland, and an escarpment of mountains rising dramatically as a backdrop, and enclosing it in the North.

It is divided into eight notarial sectors:
Secteur Neige – Snow sector, or mountainous area inland.
Arriere Pays – The hill country back from the coast, and often overlooking it.
Moyen Pays – Middle country – between the coast and the hills.
Littoral Est – Eastern coastal strip.
Nice – The City and its environs.
Secteur Cagnois – The sector & coastline of Cagnes sur Mer, just West of Nice.
Secteur Antibois – The sector & coastline including Antibes and Cap de Antibes.
Secteur Cannois – The sector & coastline with Cannes as its centre.

The statistics and indices prepared by the Chamber of Notarys is revealing when one looks at European performances, or as many South Africans are apt to do, the performance of the British property market in recent years.

But for our purposes it is as interesting to compare the trends and prices in the Alpes-Maritimes with the rest of France.

Index of prices of old houses (meaning more than 5 years) over the six years since 1998:
Annual increase – All France 11.2%
Annual increase – Alpes-Maritimes 13.4%
Index of old apartments (more than 5 years) over the six years since 1998:
Annual increase – All France 12.0%
Annual increase – Alpes-Maritimes 14.7%

Old Apartments in the Alpes Maritimes. (More than 5 years)

The structure of sales has remained fairly stable with one bedroom apartments accounting for just over 30% of all sales, followed by two bedroom apartments at 27% of sales. Only in the Snow Sector was there a glaring disparity with 60% of sales being of studio apartments. (This has much to do with the fact that most of the accommodation changing hands in this sector is in ski resorts such as Auron and Isola which practically close down completely in summer.)

Nationally, in price per square meter terms, the Alpes Maritimes is the most expensive department averaging at 2528 €/m2, followed by Haute Savoie which includes Annecy, and ski resorts such as Courcheval, at 2160 €/m2.

Of course there are huge disparities by sector – for example the sector Arriere Pays cost an average of 1008 €/m2 and the Littoral Est averaged 3344 €/m2, and whereas the Littorals and Nice registered the greatest annual increases of between 15% and 16%, the Secteur Neige registered an annual increase of only 6.5%.

Across the Alpes Maritimes in the 12 months from 1st July 2003 to 30th June 2004 the value of all old apartment sales increased by 10.6% and the price per m2 by 11.9%.

Within the commune of Nice, and for the same period, the Quartier des Quatre Monts leads the pack at 3707 €/m2 and in second place is the sea front or Quartier Bord de Mer, at 2857 €/m2.

But the most expensive property is in Cannes on the Croisette (the sea front), and averaged for the period 4414 €/m2, and it is also on the Croisette that the average size of property is the smallest at 44 sq.m. In the exclusive suburb of Cannes overlooking the city and the Croisette, known as La Californie, the price was 3836 €/m2 and the average size was 62 sq.m. In the suburb of Croix des Gardes the figures were 3254 €/m2 and 57 sq.m., and in the City Centre they were 2617 €/m2 and 51 sq.m. The suburb of Palm Beach is not mentioned separately in the statistics because much of it would have been included in the figures for La Croisette, but would reflect values very close to those of La Californie if it were taken separately, but with smaller living space.

The cost of a square meter in the Littoral Est which includes such famous areas as St Jean Cap Ferrat, Villefranche, Beaulieu and Cap Martin, the average price for the same period was 3344 €/m2, and the average size of apartment was 47 sq.m.
Secteur Cagnois – 2589 €/m2 and 54 sq.m.
Secteur Antibois – 2727 €/m2 and 52 sq.m.
Moyen Pays – 1941 €/m2 and 56 sq.m.

Old Apartments in Cannes. (More than 5 years)

Since 1999 the value of apartments sold in Cannes has risen by 66.7%.
In the 14 quarters between the 4th quarter 2000 (=100) and the second quarter 2004 (=154.3) greater Cannes has seen an increase of 54.3% in the average price of old apartments. This represents an annual increase of 15.51%.

Old Houses (Villas) in the Alpes-Maritimes. (More than 5 years).

It is an interestingly different demographic.

Globally across the department a house cost 360 200€ for 4.6 rooms (not bedrooms – total rooms) and a land surface area of 1640 sq.m.

The Littoral Est (Cap Ferrat etc.) was the most expensive at 684 500€ (4.7 rooms – not bedrooms) and the Secteur Cannois next at 541 100€ (4.8 rooms). For the rest, the further one advances North Eastward, the lower the prices, with the weakest sector being Secteur Neige at 102 400€ (3.4 rooms).

In terms of increases, it is the Arriere Pays that is most impressive with a 19% increase during the same 2003/2004 period. The Littoral Est comes in second at 11.2% and Secteur Cannois at 10.1%, with quasi-stagnation in the Secteur Cagnois of 0.4%.

The Arriere Pays includes such areas as St Paul de Vence, Fayence, Tourettes sur Loup, St Cezaire, and Grasse. Increasingly people from all over Europe and the world are realizing the pleasures of living in the region for its climate, and every other aspect of life by which quality can be measured. And who has not read “A Year In Provence” by Peter Mayall, or Carol Drinkwater’s lovely books “The Olive Farm” and its sequels “The Olive Season” and “The Olive Harvest”?

The Cote d’Azur and its immediate hinterland has become a home, or second home of choice for discerning people and for a “Villa” rather than an apartment they are prepared to look inland.

The price of bare land to build on in the Arriere Pays rose 32.6% in the twelve months under review.

The Players in the Property Market.

In the market for old apartments (more than 5 years) 66.4% of buyers are still local and buying within their home area. However in the Littoral Est it is only 41.3% of buyers who are local to the area.

In the Alpes Maritimes 18.9% of property sales are to foreigners, but the foreign purchases are still concentrated in the Littoral Est and Nice where they represent 49.9% and 21.9% of buyers respectively.

Foreign buyers are made up of 10.1% Italian, 3% English, 0.8% Monagasque (Monaco), and the remaining 5% from around the world.

Parisians account for 6.3% of purchases in the Alpes-Maritimes, but they strongly prefer to buy in the Secteurs Antibois and Cannois, where they account for 8.4 and 9.9% of purchases respectively.

Over the last five years across the Alpes-Maritimes there has been a trend towards younger buyers. In the area of old apartments the percentage of buyers over 50 years of age has dropped from 48.9% to 43.2%. In old houses it has dropped from 38.2% to 33.2%. The average age of acquirers of apartments has dropped from 47 to 44 and of houses from 45 to 42.

Finally top executives and professionals have increased their share of the market in the Alpes-Maritimes from 31% to 34% and from 18 to 28% respectively, while retired people have significantly reduced their share. And not surprisingly while the national share held by the working classes is 15.8%, in the Alpes-Maritimes only 6.4% is owned by the working class.

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