Market conditions on the Basque Coast

11 th of july 2012 – Meeting with a lawyer from the Basque Coast

Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz : various clients and properties

Biarritz and Saint-Jean-de-Luz are very popular places to live, but nevertheless have differing types of customers. The mobile dynamic international clientele of Biarritz often contrasts with the more family oriented and comfortably-off customers of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, where the safe beaches, the natural surroundings and the possibility of having everything within walking distance are major assets.

The customers’ objectives are quite different: in Biarritz, they are looking for a rental property or to buy a second home while in Saint-Jean-de-Luz, they are more often retirees who wish to settle there.

Also customers wishing to purchase property in Saint-Jean-de-Luz are in mainly looking to live in the town center where everything is accessible on foot unlike those in Biarritz who seem not to need this so much. In Saint-Jean-de-Luz, customers appreciate its family atmosphere and are used to coming here on holiday year after year. The most sought after areas are undoubtedly Sainte-Barbe and Aice Errota. The former dominates the sea and the bay of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, yet is close to the town and the beach. The second retains its original charm. It should be noted that these neighborhoods have a very low turnover rate; this means that the house prices are very high in the city center.

Houses in Saint-Jean-de-Luz are more difficult to find than in Biarritz and this shortage of properties has caused an explosion in prices which on average are higher than in Biarritz and elsewhere on the coast. Prices in the Saint-Charles district have increased significantly because in recent years, property there was undervalued compared to the surrounding neighborhoods ( Edward VII or Miramar for example) and also because this area has many old houses, which, when renovated, are proving to be perfect second or vacation homes. While on this subject one should note that house renovations are not as unpleasant as they used to be and often the buyers are happy to put up with them.

It is the same with regard to land (demand greatly exceeds the supply) but for this type of property, the average prices in Biarritz are higher than those of Saint-Jean-de-Luz. The explanation seems to come from the fact that attractive plots are rare around Biarritz while there are more plots available around St Jean de Luz, but which are considered less attractive. This matches the Saint Jean de Luz customer type, who wants to walk: despite the availability of land on the outskirts of the “ville corsaire”, buyers are only moderately interested. Finally, certain land close to Saint Jean de Luz is “frozen”, since up to now the final location of the new high speed rail line has not been fixed.

On average prices are stable. This is explained because prices of exceptional properties are rising steadily while prices of average and mid-range properties continue to drop.

So the market is fairly stable, but one thing is certain: the Basque coast, and in particular its seaboard still attracts a great deal of interest.

The market for luxury real estate is doing quite well and properties valued at over one million euros are weathering the crisis. Top range real estate consists of micro markets which are relatively disconnected from economic conditions.