European real estate and financing bank Credit Foncier has opened a London office with the aim of attracting British investors looking to purchase property in France.
Credit Foncier aims to develop its introducer networks and broker relationships to make its range of property loans more widely available in the UK.
Boasting some 4000 staff members, including a sales force of 1100, Credit Foncier is number one in the real estate and asset investment project sector in France. With a nationwide presence, the bank's client advisors specialise in the fields of property investment - first-time purchase and investment for rental income on new or existing property - and asset planning.
According to the latest figures, the non-resident part of the French property market is showing strong growth with almost 40,000 transactions a year with a total value of some EUR 6billion (GBP 4 billion). This market consist of 77% foreigner and 23% French expats. Of the foreigners, 48% are British or Irish, 13% nationals of the Benelux countries and 10% Italian.
According to the research, British buyers are increasingly oriented towards investment and favour purchasing existing property. In fact, 86% of British buyers acquire an existing house or flat. The average budget for a non-resident British purchaser is less than EUR 200,000 (GBP 135,000) compared with an average in excess of EUR 220,000 (GBP 150,000) for non-resident buyers overall.
British purchases are made just about everywhere in France, with significant numbers of buyers found in the Charente (6.7%),the Alpes Maritimes (6.1%), the Cotes d'Armor (5.7%), the Haute Vienne (5%) the Haute Savoie (4.9%), the Dordogne (4.8%), the Creuse (4.6%) and in the Morbihan (3.6%).
Through its London office, Credit Foncier intends to develop and reinforce partnerships with British financial and property professionals, banking networks, brokers specialising in property financing, financial consultants, and estate agencies specialising in the non-resident market. Clients looking to invest in the French property market will then be able to benefit from the expertise of Credit Foncier's specialist advisers working in 200 branches throughout the country. These specialist work alongside clients in the execution of their property projects, covering both financing and asset-investment aspects, thanks to the bank's range of financing packages and dedicated services.
Credit Foncier already plays a significant role in the financing of French property for non-residents: in 2005 its production in this sector increased 25% over the 2004 level.
Credit Foncier can work alongside non-residents at all stages of their French real estate project: the search for the best financing package; completion of the loan application; signature of the loan agreement; and management of the loan. The bank also offers specialised bilingual advisors and a dedicated legal service, which assumes responsibility for setting up loans with contracts in English or Italian, as well as general help and assistance.
In addition to its range of financial products, Credit Foncier offers two unique services to the non-resident market sector known as Foncier French Touch Services:
- Foncier Making Touch Pack - a welcome pack consisting of the services of a bilingual adviser for a day, a multilingual advice hotline, together with assistance regarding setting up contracts for the supply of gas, electricity, telephone etc.
- Foncier Keeping Touch Pack - an ongoing management pack designed to coordination regular service providers including cleaners, property maintenance, boiler servicing etc).
A currency exchange and fund transfer service aimed at protecting those non-residents whose income is not in Euros by providing renewable exchange rate cover, is also available. It offers two advantages:
- An attractive exchange rate from local currency to Euros
- A protected and free transfer using Swift of funds into the non-resident's bank in France for the payment of loan instalments. This service also enables the non-resident to make other transfers of funds such as the repatriation of his rental income or the transfer of retirement pensions.
Credit Foncier, has also launched a website dedicated to financing for non-residents at http://www.creditfoncier.co.uk 
'I am extremely happy with the welcome we have received in London, particularly from property and financial professionals,' says François Drouin, President of Ceredit Foncier in France. 'Credit Foncier France has every intention of developing its position in the market with a range of products that is both original and adapted to the needs of our clients.'