Trends and updates in the Perpignan property market

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Perpignan Property Languedoc Roussillon The clichéd French dream, much written about in the French property press and propagated by countless relocation programmes on television, is the stone farmhouse in acres of French countryside with generous neighbouring farmers who leave gifts of eggs and fruit on the doorstep. In reality, while this is still what some buyers aspire to, this is less and less what our clients are looking for. There are many facets to “the real France” and if you live in a city in the UK, chances are that relocating to the countryside, or even a small town, will be a step too far – I know this from my own experience of moving to France! Second homes in cities are an increasing phenomenon, and Perpignan, with its easily accessible location and Mediterranean climate, is well worth consideration.

In 2003, when we established our business in France, there was very little interest from foreign buyers in Perpignan itself, this has changed in the last year and there is a growing demand for property in this vibrant and rapidly changing city. I live and work in the city and love it. There is a tangible feeling of growth and development and clear evidence of a city which is going places. A quick stroll around the centre of town bears witness to this with plenty of houses and apartments being renovated by private companies and individuals, as well as large public works being funded by the Mairie. At present a huge fountain and walkway are under construction in front of the Palais des Congrès and the area in front of the Castillet, the last remaining part of the old city walls and the symbol of Perpignan, is being largely pedestrianised.

The property market in Perpignan could perhaps best be described as haphazard. Officially, the average price for property per square metre in the city is 2150 euros/m². While some local agents still use this as a basis for valuing houses, others see it as a deeply flawed method which does not take into account the condition of properties, whether or not they have outside space, or the desirability of certain locations. Often vendors will name their price, irrespective of an agent’s advice, and as a result properties can be overpriced giving a false impression of the market to the outsider. In addition, some agents charge hugely inflated fees – it is always worth checking the percentage of fees, which, by law, should be included in the advertised asking price of a property. For properties over 150,000 euros, anything over 6% is, in my opinion, excessive.

The reality is that there is little consistency in prices, which can be very confusing for potential buyers. As an example of the vagaries of the market, I recently carried out a search in Perpignan for clients and found the same house for sale with four different agents with 50,000 euros difference between the least and most expensive. In the case of the most expensive, this additional 50,000 euros would be heading straight into the agent’s pocket. The moral is, use a reputable agent who is upfront about fees and who you trust.

So on to the all-important question of location, location, location. For foreign buyers looking in Perpignan, the old city centre is often the most desirable part of town, giving easy access to shops, bars, restaurants and cafés. This area is very attractive and full of character with cobbled streets lined with interesting shops and boutiques. On the downside, properties here are usually apartments and many come without outside space or parking. Demand also far outstrips supply for anything which is reasonably priced. Prices for a one bedroom apartment start at around 100,000 euros. We have recently sold a three bedroom apartment with parking and a shared garden in this part of town for 220,000 euros.

There are other areas within easy walking distance of this desirable part of town where it is easier to find properties with outside space and parking. One popular area is around the Palais de Congrès and to the north as far as the River Têt. This is a residential part of town with local shops, and in demand from families because of the good local primary school. Obviously prices reflect this. A four bedroomed villa which is ready to move into with garden would set you back in the region of 500,000 euros.

Slightly further out, Les Jardins St. Jacques is a quiet and peaceful part of town which was historically where the monks from the 13th century church of St Jacques grew produce for the people of the city. This is as close as you’ll get to countryside in the city, and your best chance of a good sized garden, although houses come on to the market rarely and, of course, you’ll pay for them.

Prices are growing fastest in the area around the new TGV station which offers great mid to long term investment potential. The TGV line (opening in 2009) will link Perpignan to Barcelona in just 50 minutes, making the Catalan capital commutable. As a result there is significant demand from Spanish buyers. This part of town will benefit from huge investment and property prices are already reflecting this. We have just sold a four bedroomed detached property with a courtyard for 300,000 euros – a bargain, but it proves that they are still there for the taking if you look hard enough.

If prices are already too high in this area for you, neighbouring areas might offer something that little bit less expensive. Try La Lunette or Palais des Rois de Majorque, both within walking distance of the city centre.

There isn’t room here to cover every area of the city but suffice to say, if you want to buy here, it is worth doing your homework before committing to an expensive purchase which you may later regret.

Louise Sayers

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