Monday, September 24, 2012

TGV Perpignan - Barcelona at last !

It seems that the fast TGV international train link between Perpignan and Barcelona will be operational from the third quarter of 2013 - that's about one year's time.

This is the first time I have seen a firm date given, after numerous delays, the most recent involving problems of tunnelling under parts of Barcelona close to the famous 'Sagrada Familia' still unfinished cathedral.

Journey times are estimated at 45 - 50 minutes, which will bring Barclona within easy commuting distance of Perpignan, for work, shopping or entertainmen and for using Barcelona's inyternational airport.. Currently it can take two to two and a half hours to drive. Barcelona is also notoriously difficult to get around by car and to park, though the public transport system - including the Metro - is excellent. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Additional taxes on sale of French second homes

Since the middle of August, the French government is now applying an additional tax on the sale of second homes in France by non-resident owners. The current tax of 19% of any capital gain enjoyed, after deductions, is now increased to just under 35% with the addition of the 'social charge' currently paid by resident owners of second homes. The exemption previously applied to non-resident owners has finally been recognised as an anomaly, and the new law brings foreign owners into line with resident owners of second homes in France.

The new has come as an unwelcome shock to owners who were in course of selling their property before the law changed and now find themselves paying a further 15% on any capital gain. This follows on from the recently introduced abolition of capital gains exemption (after 15 years of ownership) on French second homes and the introduction of a modified system of reductions extending over 30 years ownership of the property before CGT is finally reduced to zero (after 30 years when it was previously 15).

An analysis of sales involving second homes reveals that the majority are in fact sold by their owners within 10 years of intiail purchase. Among the reasons cited are changing holiday habits, children growing-up and wanting to take holidays away from their parents, travel to cheaper foreign destinations, and the declining holiday rental market.

In many  holiday destinations, as much as 70% of the local housing stock can comprise second homes - typically apartments and villas designed for summer occupation, which can be difficult to sell in times of crisis. Many date from the early tourist boom of the 1960s and are now in need of modernisation, to improve sound and heat insulation, and plumbing and electrical installations which need to be brought up to current norms. Summer resorts can be deserted in winter and may lack essential services needed for year round living.