I fantasize about chucking it all and moving to Paris, and I subscribe to French Property Insider. The following article from FPI has made my fantasies not quite so fantastic. L.A. is still a better deal. What a surprise.
Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
The report is out. Paris property prices are up 20.8% this past year -- from first quarter 2010 through first quarter 2011. And that's an average! In one district, the 7th, prices have soared as high as 27...%. Crazy?! "Au contraire." It was to be expected. Interest rates remain low and available housing on the market struggles to increase, therefore demand is up and owners are reluctant to sell. So, it's not a surprise that sales actually diminished by 12% over the same period.
Much to the dismay of the politicians who are scrambling to find affordable housing for their constituents, the idea of holding on to property and renting it at a profit grows in popularity...by both the French and by foreigners who see an investment opportunity...just like us.
The average price per square meter in Paris is up to 7,780€, but certain central districts have risen over the 10,000€ per meter mark -- the 4th, 6th and 7th. Only the 19th district is still under the 6,000€ per square meter line. For the first time in four years, the 7th district (11,880€/m2) has surpassed the 6th (11,870€), followed by the 4th (11,080€). A fourth district passed the 10,000€/m2 bar -- the 1st with 10,030€/m2. In contrast, the least expensive district remains the 19th at 5,970€/m2, followed by the 20th (6,380€/m2) and the 18th (6,830€/m2).
This period has shown the strongest growth in the last 20 years measured at between 16.4% (2nd) and 27.3% (7th). Per square meter prices vary between 5,900€ in the Amérique quarter of the 19th and 12,710€/m2 in Les Invalides of the 7th.
There has been a lot of discussion about the French property market heading toward a "bubble" that could break at any moment...but there is enough evidence to show this isn't true. Prices trending upward has more to do with a lack of inventory and that doesn't appear to be solvable in the near future -- particularly in Paris where historic districts are protected and new builds are virtually impossible. Interest rates are creeping up, which will diminish demand, therefore prices may tend to level, but there is no sign of a burst of the so-called bubble!
How high can prices go? As long as investors have the funds, lenders are willing to lend and inventory remains low, there is no telling. What's of primary concern is how rental rates are not keeping up with cost and therefore return on investment from the perspective of rental revenues, is lessened, even if appreciation remains strong.
Is it a good time to buy? My opinion is 'yes.' At today's low interest rates (under 4%), it's a perfect opportunity to get your toe in the proverbial water and in five, ten or 20 years, you'll be very happy you didn't pass up the opportunity...like so many are doing now when they had the same chance a few years ago!
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