Friday, April 25, 2014

French Property News, May 2014

In this month's issue - which is a 'special' dedicated to setting up and running a successful business in France, I have written a piece taking stock of where France is in May 2014, just having voted in the local elections and with European élections due at the end of May. It is also signals the end of François Hollande's second year as President (with another three years to run).

Now that the piece has appeared we know the result of the local elections - significant losses for the socialists, gains for the UMP (Mr Sarkozy's party) and for the National Front. The most striking effect has been the sacking of the prime minister (Mr Ayrault) by Mr Hollande and the appontment of Manuel Vals, former interior minister, in his place. There have been some resignations, including the former ecologist housing minister Cécile Duflot.

The most striking changes are a reduction in the number of ministers to about half of the previous government, and greater reliance on 'ministers of state'. The intention is to have a smaller inner working cabinet headed by Valls. It is probably too early to comment but critics suggest that the new government is largely re-hashing older policies, when what is required, they argue, are significant reductions in public expenditure, urgent action to reduce unemployment and concrete measures to increase productivity.

For the property sector, no significant new policies have yet been announced though the country's demographic profile may be enough to get the market moving again. With some three million pensioners expected to enter retirment in the next decade, it is predicted that many of them - already property owners - will want to dispose of their larger principal homes, usually located in the northern half of the country, and join the exodus South to the sun. As a result there is a growing market for new-build properties and for alternatives such as timber construction, and an emphasis on energy saving, with an eye on the future.

French Property News is available from newsagents or on subscription.