The fifth edition of the BNP Paribas international buyers research report Investing and Living Abroad shows that the number of international transactions in 2012 was 10,663, a fall of 29% from 2011 when it was 15,073.
However, the value of property bought by foreign buyers has increased. The average transaction increased by 5% to â‚¬384,000 compared with â‚¬320,000 two years ago.
Also the number of international buyers seeking finance to buy a property fell by 19% to just a fifth of those purchasing a second home.
The research from the bank also showed that British buyers lead the pack with 20% of all transactions followed by Belgians with 16%, Italians with 13% and Swiss with 11%. But there are new buyers on the horizon and the numbers of Russians buying property in France is now just under 5% of the market with numbers up 27% on last year.
But Normandy is not one of the most popular regions for overseas buyers in France. The top place is taken by PACA with 33% of foreign buyers, followed by Rhone Alps with 15% and Paris/Ile de France with 12%.
The BNP Paribas research also showed that purchasers and potential purchasers are most influenced by three factors; quality of life, climate and gastronomy. Normandy certainly has two of these attributes but might struggle to claim it wins on climate.
Buyers indicated in the survey that when buying in France they are looking for both sunshine and a more relaxed way of life. Some 67% of respondents said that they were buying a property in France to prepare for future retirement.
According to Trevor Leggett, chief executive of French estate agency Leggett Immobilier said that the fact that budgets have increased so much and many buyers are paying in cash suggests that many middle class buyers are looking to France as a safe haven.
â€˜The 29% fall in international buyers was not really unexpected given the widespread economic uncertainty. Overall sales of old property in France for the 12 months between February 2012 and January 2013 were down by 22% to 655,000,â€™ he explained.
â€˜Vendors and agents are now beginning to price realistically and my personal view is that we will now see transaction numbers slowly rising again, both for international and domestic buyers,â€™ he added.
He also pointed out that Leggett Immobilier has grown its market share of UK buyers in France from 5% in 2011 to 10% in 2012. â€˜This is a huge leap that we attribute to the emphasis we place on local knowledge. All of our agents live and work in their respective areas and this allows us to help purchasers find both the most suitable area and the most suitable house,â€™ said Leggett.
â€˜We now have over 150 agents throughout France who are marketing around 8,000 properties at any one time. This growth in market share looks set to continue in 2013 as we continue to recruit high quality agents throughout France,â€™ he added.