Property prices had a mixed response in 2013, with the less desirable areas seeing a drop and the most desirable a modest increase in price. The overall stagnation in price, a slight dip of 0.9% in Nice overall, follows a very healthy 6% increase the year before in 2012.
The largest increases were along the strip of the Promenade des Anglais between the airport and Boulevard Gambetta. At the airport end they increased by 8%. There could be a number of factors at play here. The first is the drought of property for sale on the Promenade between Boulevard Gambetta and the Old Town. Properties on the market are virtually non-existent. Second is the beginning of construction of the tramway from the airport to the city centre. It is not the transport aspect, Avenue Californie is already very well serviced by buses with €1 taking you anywhere in the city quickly and efficiently. Wherever Nice has installed a tram line it has also added extensive pedestrianisation, parks, seating, terrace areas for bars and restaurants. More people could be buying further down in anticipation of a substantial urban renovation programme in the area.
The Old Town has seen a modest increase of just over 2%, fractionally below inflation. Despite a drop in British buyers, Old Town properties have been selling like hot cakes last year. Obviously the desirability of the area has counter-balanced the kamikaze tax tactics of the President Francois Hollande. Prices here are still around 20% cheaper than the city centre so there is still margin for increase.
The centre with the Carre d’Or and Musicians Quarter has remained unchanged. Heading north-west gives us the biggest drops, with Saint-Philippe down 8% and Ventabrun (off tiny twisty roads in the north-west hinterlands) down 11.5%. The only surprise is the Liberation section, just north of the train station, dropping by 5%. With the creation of the new shopping centre where the old Gare de Sud is, and the government restoring a number of buildings around it, this area is an already desirable by local Nicois and would have been expected to maintain value.
The luxurious Mont Boron, with its stunning views over Nice, increased in value by 4.4%. Last year it also saw launched the most expensive real estate project ever in Nice, the Palais Maeterlinck, with 18 apartments priced at €40,000/m².
What do we expect for 2014? A marginal improvement but no drastic swing either way. Solid rental demand in Nice will maintain prices, giving a healthy yield. It continues to attract an international clientele, giving the key central areas protection from any dip that might affect other areas of France. The lack of new build will also keep an upward pressure on prices due to pent up demand, though banks still require hefty deposits for a mortgage and this will limit translation of that pressure into price increases.
We would say this year is a good year to buy for those looking at a 5-10 year investment, an excellent year for those looking to buy/renovate/sell, and a poor year for a portfolio investor looking to flip in the 2-3 year range.