With more businesses opening slowly due to the coronavirus pandemic and the impending Brexit transition period ending on 31 December, an increasing number of Brits are looking to buy property in France. Many Brits want to secure a French property before Brexit, while others have chosen France for their holiday home, as they can drive there by car or reach it by ferry.
In The Connexion, an estate agent highlighted the rising demand for French homes by Brits, saying that “the phones have not stopped ringing’” as Britons are interested in buying a home in France before the end of the Brexit transition period.
In an article in The Times, interest in staycations has now become the norm, especially after Covid-19 where travellers avoid airports. But, the meaning of a staycation need not be limited to spending vacations on British soil. Brits remain interested in buying a home abroad, but they are now choosing locations that they can reach by car. Director of French estate agency Leggett Immobilier, Joanna Leggett, notes that “We have seen a 42% rise since this time last year in enquiries from the British for properties that they can drive to.” “If you can get in your car, go through the Channel Tunnel and be in your house without having to see anyone except passport control, that’s actually a really good option for people now,” she said.
Brexit and buying a house in France
The number of British people moving to EU countries has remarkably grown since the 2016 Brexit referendum. With the UK expected to leave the single market after January 1, 2021, and any British arrival to France after that date to be regarded as outside the European Union, many Brits have begun looking for their holiday homes in France. This has helped increase property sales and may also result in France overtaking Spain as the number 1 destination for Brits moving abroad.
As Joanna Leggett said, this has had a positive effect on the property market: "Our sales to Brits at the beginning of the year were up 38% [year-on-year] until March, 85% of them were for main homes. Our website hits are up 87% for the English-language version of our site and enquiries on properties are going completely mad. We have so many Brits with reserved bookings coming from July, we expect the next three months to be our busiest ever." She also remarked: “I think the mad panic does seem to be that the British want to get here and they want to find their property and to be in it to qualify for the residency that we get at the moment.” She added that the period between July and September will be the busiest as restrictions might ease for travelling. “We have said that it does take three to four months for a sale to complete, so if people do want to be in their house they need to have made an offer by the end of September to be able to complete by December,” she said.
What happens after Brexit?
While the negotiations are still ongoing and there are many issues still to be resolved, one thing that is certain is that Brits will still be eligible to buy and rent out homes in France, as well as stay in France for 90 out of 180 days without the need of a visa.
If they move to France before the end of the transition period, it is expected that their rights will be the same as now, including their residency status, healthcare and uprating their UK state pensions.
According to estate agents Leggett Immobilier, Brits will “still be able to move here [after the transition period], there may be a little more paperwork than would previously have been required.”
If you are buying a holiday home in France, it is important to consult a specialist foreign exchange company such as Universal Partners FX right from the start. UPFX can help you manage currency fluctuations by fixing the rate, as the final price of your home could vary significantly from the time you made your offer.
When moving large amounts of cash, it is best to get in touch with UPFX’s currency specialists where they can offer you competitive exchange rates and the best value for your money. Find out what your money is worth by giving them a call or requesting a free quote.