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Buying Property

Poitou-Charentes - Buying Property

QUICK LINKS: France Guide - France Discussion Forum - France Property Listings

Poitou-Charentes has four departments: Charente, Vienne, Charente-Maritime and Deux-Sèvres. The area is in the central part of the country but slightly to the west. The area is renowned for the climate and has good summers each year. The region has good transport links and other parts of the country can be easily reached using the motorway network or public transport.

Much of the economy in the area is geared towards tourism and agriculture, although several of the towns have growing commercial sectors. The Charente and Charente-Maritime departments have proved to be particularly popular with expats, although Vienne and Deux-Sèvres are only just beginning to attract foreign residents.

Many expats are drawn to the area with the idea of opening their own business, usually a B&B or running gîtes. There are many properties in the area which are suitable for this and the large numbers of tourists that visit the region each year make this a viable opportunity.

The average cost of buying a house in the Poitou-Charentes region in 2009 was €119,800, which is low compared with the national average of €129,900. Charente-Maritime was the most expensive department, with a price much higher than the average for the region, but this is due to the demand for properties and the influx of expat buyers. Departments such as Vienne and Deux-Sèvres were much lower than the regional average.

However, the cost of buying an apartment in Poitou-Charentes remains on a par with the national average, although the cheaper areas of Charente and Deux-Sèvres still have a fairly low average. The rental opportunities in the area are many if you wish to buy to let for the holiday market or for the student population.

French mortgages for expats The Vienne department has around 420,000 inhabitants and is home to the city of Poitiers. The location close to the Atlantic costs yet within easy reach of the centre of the country makes it popular with holiday makers. The area benefits from mild summers and winters, which means that visitors come here all year round. The average property prices in 2009 worked out at €2012 per square metre, making it a third cheaper than the national average. Prices for an apartment worked out at €1610 per square metre, though in this region the square metre price does not really vary depending upon the size of the property. Poitiers itself boasts many medieval properties in the town centre although properties are cheaper on the outskirts.

The Deux-Sèvres department attracts thousands of holiday makers each year who come to see the beautiful countryside and experience the laidback French lifestyle. The recent economic downturn did affect property prices in this department, with property available in 2009 for around €1800 per square metre, but some areas of the department have properties available which are lower in price. Niort, for example, had an average price of €1700 per square metre. Bargains can be found in some of the more rural areas if you are prepared to travel to work. The town of Bressuire has less than 20,000 inhabitants but has a strong commercial sector which employs many people from the town and surrounding areas and this helps to bring people in. The town of Chef Boutonne is well known for small properties which are ideal for conversion to gîtes.

The Charente department has approximately 350,000 inhabitants and has several strong commercial sectors, which bring many people in looking for employment. Charente is famous for the production of Cognac and paper, while agriculture in general is thriving in the area. The average property price in the department in 2009 was around €1523 per square metre. This is less than half the national average, which stood at €3200 per square metre. Some of the towns in the area have more tenants than owners living there, which means that it could prove to be a good buy to let investment. Property demand in the area is more for larger properties than smaller ones. Towns such as Angouleme and Cognac are very reasonably priced when it comes to property, while other towns such as Jarnac are a little more expensive. The town of Confolens is currently very popular with British and Dutch expats, which can often help to put the prices up but there are still bargains to be found.

The Charente-Maritime department accounts for around 600,000 inhabitants of the region and visitors can take in varied landscapes from coastal views to the hills in the countryside. The average property price there in 2009 was €3198 per square metre, which is on a par with the national average. The figure is influenced by one or two areas of the department which attract wealthier people and where prices are extremely high, for example, Ile de Ré, where prices in 2009 were in excess of €4300 per square metre. It is recommended that those on a lower budget look to the more rural areas of the department, where prices will be below that of the national average. The town of Jonzac is one which offers properties which cover a variety of price ranges while La Rochelle is fairly close to the national average, but offers rental opportunities as there is a large student population.

Among the property types which are unique to the region are the ‘maisons charentaises’. These are traditional houses in the areas which usually have a cellar and a garden, but are very large houses with a symmetrical layout. These can be seen throughout the region and are built from wood and stone. Many of them have the original stone fireplaces.

The Colombage houses are half timbered houses and are mostly in the towns of Niort, Parthenay and Cognac and are similar to the half timbered properties which can be found further north in areas such as Normandy. Many of these properties have been sympathetically renovated and have many original French features.

The Rétaise houses are found on the Ile de Ré and are stone built properties which have a traditional French look, complete with painted shutters and exposed stone interior walls. They are often painted white on the outside and are popular with those who buy to let.

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