French house construction activity slows

The number of properties starting to be built in France fell in August, raising fears that a full property market recovery in the country may still be some years off.

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New figures released by the Ministry for Ecology and Development show that housing starts fell by 1.1 per cent in the month to August, while in the three months to August the number was down by 1.9 per cent. The number of building permits issued has also fallen significantly – by 3.2 per cent on a monthly basis and by 10.2 per cent in the three months to August period.

French President Francois Hollande has set a target of 500,000 new homes –150,000 of them social housing – to be built annually over the course of his five-year mandate. In the 12 months to August 2013, figures show that only 342,185 houses have started to be built – down by more 11 per cent on the preceding 12-month period.

According to the French real estate federation, FNAIM, house prices across France fell by 3.6 per cent in the first half of the year, compared with the second half of last year. Housing sales are expected to amount to 635,000 this year, FNAIM predictions show, down about 10 per cent from 2012.