Let’s first keep in mind that there are as many real estate prices as there are properties on the market. A meaningful real estate valuation should be performed by an expert in the field, and will take account many more criteria than just the “value per square meter,” such as age of the property, location, views, proximity of shops, etc. – and of course how close it is from Uzès itself.
That’s because properties within walking distance of Uzès town center are the most sought after – along with village houses (called “maisons de village”) and countryside properties (called “mas”) within 10 kilometers (6 miles) of Uzès. Obviously as unique properties are more valuable, older and larger mas (which are increasingly difficult to come across) don’t stay on the market very long – provided the offered price is within market prices boundaries.
Karine Curry, from the Agence Guiraud estate agency, says that prices vary depending on the area. Houses within Uzès will fetch from 1,500€/m² (140€/ft²) for a 120m² (1,500ft²)-semidetached recent built in the development North of town, to over 3,000€/m² (280€/ft²) for a stone property closer to the center with a garden. Prices for apartments in older properties go up to 2,500€/m² (230€/ft²) - with a few flats selling for substantially more in new built close to the center of town.
Who are the buyers?
“Uzès still is the gem of the area,” says Patrick Souffir, from Mas & Villas in Montaren. This statement pretty much sums up the market’s sentiment. Prospective buyers shouldn’t worry: unlike elsewhere in France, prices in Uzège aren’t quite falling, and investing in real estate in Uzès and Uzège is still a good idea. However, the 2000 bubble has burst, buyers are intensely value-focused – and this is reflected in steady prices.
Real estate professionals confirm that Uzès is where the prospective buyers are looking first. A lot of such buyers are looking to purchase a vacation home – with the view to settle in Uzège permanently after they retire. For those people, the proximity of businesses and shops is high on the list of criteria: bakeries and bars – well ahead of schools.
“Most buyers come from outside of Uzège,” says Patrick Souffir, “looking for a vacation home and they’re willing to spend from 500,000€ to 700,000€. They come from within France (Paris, Lyon, the Alps region) as well as from Europe – with Belgium and Switzerland leading the pack.” Most of those customers are paying cash – and that has an impact on prices. “First-time buyers aren’t there any more – at least for the time being,” says Patrick.
The flight-to-value trend means that sellers can’t expect to extract “unreasonable prices” from their properties any more – which is what was sometimes happening just a few years back (prior to 2008). Real estate agents have a hard time explaining to their selling customers that only the right price will generate a sale. However, the fact of the matter is that this is increasingly a buyer’s market. One caveat though: a number of sellers have chosen to take their properties off the market rather than accept offers that they deem (rightly or wrongly…) too low.
The number of transactions has fallen sharply since the start of the year 2012. Buyers have been waiting to see how, following the election of François Hollande, a social-democrat, the new government might change the legal context. Sellers too: it is rumored that the capital gain tax (CGT) rates will be lowered – reversing a substantial hike in February 2012 (which had led to some owners taking their properties off the market). [At the time of this writing, the government has made any announcement yet].
Buyers are less flexible than they used to be: 80% of them are not interested in properties further away than 10 kilometers from Uzès. Demand is still strong, but prospective buyers have shrunk their budget by 10% to 20% - and they are still looking for the same type of properties. In other words, even though Uzège is still a valued real estate choice, the economic climate is indeed taking its toll.