“In the 16th century a leather tanner called Galimard, from the Côte d’Azur commune of Grasse, had a brilliant idea.
Sick of the pungent smell of the gloves that he was making, he decided to concoct a special scent of rosewater and spices, and presented his sweet-smelling invention to Queen Catherine de Medici. The scented gloves were the talk of Gallic noblewomen, and the modern French perfume industry was born”
The article includes interviews with HH director Tim Swannie who spent two days with David Byers (the deputy editor of the Times Property section and writer of the piece) showing the city, introducing them to the assistant mayor and visiting properties in the area.
“Tim Swannie, the director of the luxury property specialist Home Hunts, and a local resident, says: “House prices in Grasse are generally about 25 per cent or so lower than many of the neighbouring villages and towns, but this will not be the case for much longer.”
Grasse, a town of 55,000 inhabitants, is the scene of one of France’s biggest urban regeneration schemes, known as Espace Martelly. This will regenerate 4.9 acres of the town centre, including rebuilding crumbling shop units in the old town, the construction of a four-star hotel, curating landscaped gardens, fountains and eco zones, and building a cinema and a railway line. Work is expected to be completed by 2021”
“The French housing market is starting to recover. Prices fell by as much 30 per cent at the time of the financial crisis, but Changing Gear, a new report from Knight Frank, shows sales for the first quarter of 2017 were 8 per cent higher than in the same period in 2016.
Why is the mood improving? Low interest rates, the willingness of French banks to lend, and a forecast upturn in the economy; France’s GDP is predicted to rise from 1.4 per cent to 1.7 per cent in 2018. There is also the “Macron effect”.
How is Emmanuel Macron making property more attractive? President Macron is targeting French nationals who have moved abroad. He has promised to make 80 per cent of households exempt from the taxe d’habitation, the country’s equivalent of council tax, and review the wealth tax, which applies to those with personal assets of more than €1.3 million. The tax has acted as a disincentive to international buyers.
Who is buying? “There has been an increase in interest from Germany, Scandinavia and the Benelux,” says Tim Swannie, the director of Home Hunts. “We are still getting a lot of interest from the UK too, but the pound to euro exchange rate is affecting this.” Mark Harvey, the head of European sales at Knight Frank, says: “The British were uncertain, but since Macron’s election the mood has changed.”
Which locations are doing well? In Paris prices have risen by 2.6 per cent in the past 12 months. Provence is also a top performer. “The number of applicants registering with Knight Frank who are looking to spend in excess of €2 million increased by 175 per cent in the first five months of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016,” it says”