Trend: price stabilization
Prices had been rising steeply in Uzège in the seven years up to 2008 – when the high-speed-train (TGV) first put Uzès less than 3 hours from Paris. However, the local property market bubble has not quite burst since the global downturn of 2008/2009 – rather, it has “shrunk”. The financial crisis has not lead to a huge drop in prices here, rather it has resulted in prices rising at a much more sedate pace, with buyers being more demanding and sellers slightly more reasonable in their expectations. Since the beginning of the summer (June 2011) we are witnessing a clear consolidation: not a buyer’s market yet, but getting there. It will take some time (at least 6 months maybe I would say) for the sellers to digest the fact that buyers – even though in less secure financial environment they make be enticed by the security of a real estate investment – are even more demanding, even less willing to pay the asking price.
As of October 2011, you can expect to pay about 2,200€-to-2600€ per sq.m for old stone farmhouses with character (“mas”), 1,800€-to-2,400€ per sq.m for village houses (no gardens nor pool) and 1,600-to-2,900€ for apartments (with a limited supply, mainly in Uzès or St-Quentin-La-Poterie).
Realistically, you should come to Uzès with a minimum budget of 250,000€/280,000€ for a chance of finding a stone-built, 2 bedroom village house with some (small) outside space. Gardens, land and swimming pools are at a substantial premium. For those buyers with a larger budget, there are some truly wonderful properties available: large country mas (over 4 bedrooms or 300 sq.m of living area) formerly occupied by the Uzège gentry or rich farmers exchange hands for upwards of 800,000€. Mas (old farm houses) of average size (200 sq.m of living area) can be found for around 500,000€. Most will require a bit of work. Because many larger properties have been parceled off, you may have to pay a premium for fully detached property with land and outbuildings.
A recent study by L’Observatoire de l’Immobilier (for the Midi Libre) shows that less than a third of the buyers in Uzège are local (from the Gard département) – and more than 10% are from Switzerland or Britain (whereas those Nationals make up 0.2% of the buyers in Nîmes). In Uzège over 50% of house purchases are for holiday homes (only 18% in the other parts of Gard). Prices in Uzège are about 15% higher than around Nîmes, and double those around Alès (only 25 km North). 37% of the recent purchases in Uzège were recent-built, and 22% for village houses. A number of buyers in the old Uzès are expecting to find townhouses or aprtments with terrasse and elevators - but those (the elevators) simply don't exist - save two or three...
Frédéric Garnier, head of L’Observatoire de l’Immobilier, which aggregates sales data from over 35 estate agents in Uzège, indicates that the average transaction price in Uzège is 13% below the initial asked price (the price in the estate agent’s windows or website). In my own experience, it’s often lower than that – especially when the asking price was particularly unrealistic in the first place (which is too often the case). The average sale happens within 25 weeks (less than 6 months) – so anything longer than that means that the price is too high... Mr Garnier likes to remind sellers than the “right price” is the one at which they will find a buyer – not the one they imagine they could get, taking into account their emotional investment, or advice from their friends and neighbors.
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