Global economic slowdown, inflation, exchange rate misery, failing investments… All these can be found in abundance everywhere you look in today’s world. Yet here in this tranquil corner of South-West France the reverberations of these things seem less important as little changes here over time and the region still offers the same reasons for buying a property that it always has. Many estate agents in the region have reported that, in recent weeks, they’ve seen a 25% to 35% increase in property prices. So what makes Dordogne forever popular?
This area is loved as much by the French as the overseas purchasers that have traditionally bought here because after all, this is some of the best countryside that France has to offer and is here right in their own backyard! Add in the already strong popularity with other international buyers including the Brits, Dutch and Belgians and we have an area here which has benefited from continued and strong overseas demand. Yet most of Dordogne totally retains its French feel. Why? Because despite the community of second home owners, French families live and work here, towns and villages buzz with their daily lives all year round and the bars and restaurants continue to be busy, no matter what the season. For example, central Dordogne, which is served by the A89 auto route attracts commuters from Bordeaux and people from all over the world buy second homes here because of the stunning beauty and tranquillity of this “garden of France”.
This area can probably boast the best and easiest access from points across the UK and Ireland. The international airport of Bordeaux just an hour away. Bergerac International Airport is only ½ an hour away. Limoges is only 1 ½ hours from the heart of the region and the forthcoming International airport at Brive la Gaillarde will be 50 minutes drive from our offices in Neuvic sur L’Isle when opened shortly. These routes continue to expand and with this flexibility, cheap prices can always be found giving affordable access to your French home from almost anywhere in the UK.
Since the beginning of 2002 until the end of 2007, prices across the Dordogne rose by 45% putting the region well above the average for France. In terms of today’s market, prices have stabilised during the last 12 to 18 months and in many cases asking prices are falling strongly due to the reduced demand resulting from the global economic slowdown. Real time prices have fallen in the region of 10% to 20% based on actual transactions taking place, however for the most part, the recession has seen a reality check taking place for vendors who imagined the values of their properties being permanently on the increase. Prices now reflect much more realistic market values.
Interestingly, a key factor about this region is that properties here are bought equally by French and other foreign buyers. The region is also currently very popular with Dutch and Belgian buyers so good properties still continue to sell quickly. The regions airports, and the low-cost airlines they attract, make the current and future access to properties very easy so demand continues to be steady and there appears to be no let up in the appetite for property in this area. Whilst there can never be any cast iron guarantees about future values, but since southwest France is one of the last bastions of lower priced property in Europe and, while demand continues to be strong, then over the long term, prices will continue to rise steadily. After all, there is only one “La Belle France”.
There is usually no smoke without fire and it is true that a small handful of the famous Dordogne towns, mainly found along the southern border, have historically attracted prices much higher than the average Dordogne property. It is this that drives the inaccurate perception that the Dordogne is expensive and is mainly due to the long term demand within these areas and the huge growth in tourism which has driven the demand. Despite this, property prices across much of the rest of the region, the “true” Dordogne, are still at bargain levels. Currently, the southwest of France offers the best prices in the whole of France. People are always very surprised to find that Dordogne compares very favourably on price with the neighbouring Limousin region.
Everyone who buys here buys for the superb quality of life that it brings and this can still be had in exactly the same way as it always could. People buying here today are still buying for the same reasons and the recession has little to do with it. Despite this, long term broad appeal for this region will certainly ensure that sound investment comes as part of the package. If you were thinking of buying to improve your life then what stops you from still doing that if your motivations are for life change?
All in all, property remains excellent value for money in Dordogne with plenty of superb deals available for the keen buyer. Access to the region remains easy and it is one of the most sought after and beautiful areas of France. With all these attributes it would seem that in the long-term, property prices will continue to rise steadily ensuring the Dordogne to be a safe haven.
With thanks to Tony Moules, FrenchEntrée Estate Agent Partner