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Property sales : Non-resident foreigners purchasing accommodation in mainland France


Whereas the number of transactions for older properties rose sharply in 2015, the proportion of non-resident foreign buyers fell sharply: after peaking at 2.8% in 2006-07, it fell to 1.4% in 2014 and even to 1% in 2015, according to provisional figures in notaries' records. In Greater Paris the proportion of non-resident foreigners has remained fairly stable for 10 years, around 1%, and unlike the French Provinces, it rose slightly in 2015. Companies, property investment partnerships in particular, are excluded, but there is nothing to indicate that non-resident foreigners are keener to for property investment partnerships than in the past.

On average, between 2005-2014, Britons, Italians and Belgians together represented nearly 60% of non-resident foreign buyers; the British alone making up nearly one third of them (figure 1). In the West and Centre of France, the British significantly outnumber other nationalities, followed by the Belgians. In the North-East, the Alps and Provence/Côte d’Azur/Corsica, they rival other nationals of bordering countries, with the notable exception of the Germans. In Greater Paris, the main nationalities represented are both different and more diversified than in other regions: after the Italians, who are by far the most numerous, Americans and Britons are closely followed by Algerians (6%) and Moroccans (4%).

The proportion of the four nationalities most widely represented at national level among non-resident foreign buyers - British, Belgian, Italian and Swiss - changed differently between 2005 and 2014 (graph 1).

The British still outnumber other nationalities, despite a fall of 15 points between 2005 and 2014. In the Centre and West, where they are the greatest in number, their percentage fell by 10 points between 2005 and 2014, and by more than 20 on the west coast and in the Massif Central. However, by and large we observe a significant upturn between 2011 and 2014: their percentage rose by nearly 9 points to 29% in 2014.

Conversely, despite a slight fall since 2013, the proportion of Belgians has constantly grown since 2005, most noticeably in the North-Est, South and South-West. Indeed they have been greater in number than the Italians since 2012. The latter have lost over 10 points' market share since 2009, chiefly in Provence/Côte d’Azur/Corsica.

Non-resident Italians tend more to sell to one another than other nationalities: nearly one out of three non-resident buyers (31%) purchase from an Italian vendor, against only 8% of Belgians. This trend is also observed with the British (26%), whereas only 12% of Swiss deal with vendors of the same nationality.

Complete study available at, Dinamic section.


Social security contributions of non-residents

After a ruling of the European Court of Justice against France, its Ministry of Finance issued an official communiqué on 20 October 2015, admitting that social security contributions were no longer payable on capital gains made by non-residents registered in a social security system in the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland. Non-residents who have paid them have two years (plus the year of payment) in which to claim a refund.

But since 1st January 2016, this relaxing of the law has been reversed, because article 24 of the Social Security Finance Law for 2016, passed on 21 December 2015, once again charges social security contributions on all non-residents' capital income.