Montpellier, Languedoc France (PressExposure) August 21, 2006 -- A recent Abbey National survey showed that Languedoc Roussillon was the most popular area for UK overseas buyers with the majority of those buyers intending to invest between Â£50,000 and Â£150,000 in the project - and with good reason.
The region has continued to buck the French property price slow-down with consistent monthly price increases of over 10% (as reported by property specialist Creme de Languedoc) for houses and apartments. As these increases are starting from a lower base than the more famous neighbouring Provence, investors can still pick up a great property for considerably less than a UK equivalent. With millions of visitors to the region last year, the second-home, rental or investment markets are unlikely to disappear, even given the increased competition from emerging Eastern European markets, due to the strong underpinning by the tourism industry and local demand.
But will these prices continue to raise?
Well this is the million Euro question and as ever the economics of âdemand and supplyâ will dictate this. Nobody can be certain but there is a strong evidence to suggest that there is still plenty of room for growth in this ever popular region and hereâs why.
Strong demand - with the region consistently voted THE place French retirees want to move to, Montpellier is currently the fastest growing city in Europe and HÃ©rault has just come 2nd in a detailed poll of the most desirable departments of France to live in, there is no shortage of new blood moving into Languedoc. And this is only the local demand, add into this equation the international factor, and you have a very strong demand for property.
Great transport links - the government has woken up-to this fact and has been pumping millions into the regionâs transport infrastructure not only making it easier for locals to reach the sunny Languedoc, but other Europeans too.
Languedoc is served by five regional airports with a further five a short drive away (most of which have direct flights served by budget airlines from many Europeans cities). In fact Ryanair has recently announced the opening of a new French base in Marseille with the addition of 11 new routes and it is only a question of time before Beziers airport (located in the heart of the region) picks up an international budget airline.
Road links are being improved all the time. The new A75 auto-route linking Paris and the north with the coastal A9 will soon be completed. This new road includes the magnificent Millau viaduct which alone is well worth the trip. Many other trunk roads are being improved and villages by-passed, shaving hours off peak drive times.
It is not just the roads that are improving, rail links to the region are second-to-none. Paris to Montpellier via the iconic TGV will take less than four hours and if you book in advance on the new internet only idTGV, tickets can be found for an amazing â¬19 each way. The track has been ear marked to be up-graded between Montpellier and Perpignan (date still tbc) and the TGV link onto Barcelona is due to open in Feb 2009, cutting journey times from Perpignan to just 50 mins. Also in the towns and cities, planners have been busy improving traffic flow and provisions for parking and mass transport. Montpellier for example, the regional capital, will open its second tramline in December, with work on a third linking the city to the airport starting soon. Strong Tourism - France is still the worldâs top tourist destination (The Economist, August 2006) with Languedoc the 4th most popular destination in France (CRT Languedoc Roussillon 2004). The Languedoc boasts 300 days of sunshine a year and a pleasant Mediterranean climate. With the varied landscape you can escape the heat of the coastal planes for the cooler climes of the HÃ¢ut Languedoc and the foothills of the CÃ©vennes. There is over 200km of sandy beaches, dotted with an ever increasing number of smart private beach clubs, or for those that prefer fresh water, beautiful lakes and in-land river beaches. If you are a sun worshipper, you will be spoilt for choice!
There is also a wealth of activities and cultural events on offer for visitors, ranging from any number of outside sports (Golf, horseriding, walking, skiing, canoeing etc.) to historic monuments, galleries (the newly extended MusÃ©e FabrÃ© due to open late 2006) and not forgetting the annual music festivals and local FÃªtes.
Is it all good news?
It cannot be doubted that the local economy is going through a period of significant change, having to absorb the new arrivals and find them places of work and new homes. For example in Montpellier developers are creating a whole new area to the city, one that will boast the regionâs first large 5 star hotel, purpose built hi-tech office space and stunning new housing.
But it is the decline of the wine French wine industry that is presenting a particular challenge to the local authorities. However one that they are committed to meet with a desire to see land that has been scrubbed of vines, re-used for tourism and local housing.
This strong demand and government backing is fuelling an increasing number of developments that are run under a âlease-back schemeâ. In order to boost the quantity of quality accommodation in tourist hotspots, the French government introduced the RÃ©sidence de Tourisme status. If a new development is granted RÃ©sidence de Tourisme status, a buyer can purchase the freehold of the property without paying TVA (French VAT), and then lease it back to the developer for an agreed period at a guaranteed annual rent, typically 3 to 6 per cent.
These properties are bought furnished and will be managed by the developer for the life of the lease, at which point the property returns to the freeholder. Very often there are pre-approved mortgages available and legal fees reduced or waived. Given the capital gain and the fact that rental incomes are guaranteed - these present a very exciting opportunity for overseas investors and another alternative to the more traditional options.
For more information: Creme de Languedoc property website.