Is there an optimum time of year to buy property?

winter pic

There is no doubt that the property market is a seasonal business here in France, just as in most countries, which begs the question, is there an optimum time to buy a house here and are there certain times that buyers should avoid?

According to the LPI (l’Observatoire de Les Professionnels de L’immobilier) of, in France almost 45% of Compromis de Vente (exchange of contract) are signed between March and July with the peak in June and July (19%). Between September and November, 28% are signed with another peak in October (more than 10%). Which all means that there is a 50% difference in the number of signings between the peak months (July and October) and the quietest months (February, August, November and December). Winter tends to be a slow period because many buyers prefer to hibernate and put off house hunting until the Spring. In August many people are on holiday and the market slows again.

Even more interesting for potential buyers is that these peak periods do not necessarily correspond to the highest asking prices. So, for example, in October, a month of very high demand for property, prices are in fact 2% lower than other times of year. The explanation for this is apparently that, in October, there are the highest number of properties for sale on the market, hence greater competition for sellers to attract a buyer resulting in a corresponding drop in price.

At other periods however, quieter times in the property market do tend to result in lower accepted prices. The August drop in both sales and prices is interesting and I would guess exclusive to France (and southern European countries) where everyone is on holiday and many businesses, including estate agents and Notaires, shut up shop. So despite the fact that there are plenty of buyers in August – certainly it is a busy time of year for me – the sellers and marketeers/facilitators are not there. Also worth noting in the same study is that for the properties for sale at ‘petits prix’ (the lowest price properties), sales, viewings and prices are pretty much stable throughout the year.

In summary, according to the statistics, the best time of the year to buy a house is either when there are very few other people looking (winter and August) or in the months when there is the most property on the market (March-October). In both these periods, you have more bargaining power.

However, there are of course advantages and disadvantages to buying both when the market is busy and when it is slow. While you might get a better deal through the slow winter and holiday seasons, you will also have fewer houses to choose from so it might be harder to find your dream home. Likewise, in the peak months, negotiation may be harder and you might end up paying more but, if you lose one house, you will have more chance of finding something else equally as good.

Remember too that searching for and buying a house in France can be a long process so, although you may start looking in May, you could easily not complete on your house until December. Hence, although it is worth bearing in mind the statistics and fluctuations in the property market throughout the year, in the end you should stick to the schedule that suits you best – especially if you have a property finder on your side who knows what the prices should be and how to negotiate and get the very best deal for you whatever the time of year.

Comments are closed.