France's 'Rich' Tax = Deals on Paris Mansions
CNBC Reporter & Editor
France's new 75 percent income tax on the rich may not be popular with millionaires. But it's being cheered by another group: Paris real-estate buyers.
Real estate agents say that the number of multi-million-dollar real-estate listings in Paris has jumped more than 25 percent over last year – due in part to the threat of the new income tax. More than 400 new listings have come onto the luxury real-estate market over the past six months, they say.
It's not a sell-off. And brokers caution that the increase in listings brings overall inventories at the high end to normal levels after unusually slim listings last year. Because of building restrictions in Paris and other French cities, the number of homes for sale is still limited.
There are only about 8, 000 properties sold each year for prices over $1 million or more.
Still, brokers say the 75 percent tax on the wealthiest French citizens has contributed to the decision by many of the them to sell their homes in anticipation of a possible move to another country. (Read more: Affluent Retirees Prefer Good Weather to Lower Taxes )
"There is a real flow of French people leaving because of the taxes, " said Charles-Marie Jottras, president of Daniel Feau Group, the luxury real-estate brokers in Paris.
Brokers say prices are down over last year, but only around 5 percent.
"The Parisian market is still very popular and it is so small that it is preserved from a price collapse, " according to Coldwell Banker Previews International in France. "There are virtually no new-built homes."
Still, for a market that has historically had very little inventory of homes for sale, the pop in listings has given mansion buyers far more choice.
"There is now a better balance between buyers and sellers, " Jottras said.
Brokers say that many of the buyers of French real estate are wealthy foreigners, who would not be hit with the new taxes. Russians and Middle East buyers top the list, they say, followed by Europeans, Americans, Latin Americans and an occasional buyer from Asia.
So what can a few million euros buy in Paris these days?
Not a whole lot. For the equivalent of $5.7 million you could buy a 1, 900 square foot apartment in Saint Germain des Près. The three-bedroom apartment is on the fifth floor and sixth floor of an old building and features a "skydome room" with a kitchenette.
If you have more like $11 million to spare, on the other hand, you might be interested in a 4, 800 square foot townhouse on Avenue de Boufflers in Villa Montmorency. The home features six bedrooms, a wine cellar, two kitchens and play room. (Read more: Five Trophy Properties in Europe )
For $3.4 million, you can get an 1, 800 square–foot pad "in an old building with balconies, " according to the listing. It has two bedrooms and two baths.
For $18.6 million, you can buy a 5, 200 square home in Paris, at top, with four bedrooms, three living rooms and a 1, 000 square foot terrace.
If St. Tropez is more to your liking, there's this pink waterfront mansion for sale for $45 million. The 1930s villa used to be a hotel popular with celebrities, and features a stunning salt-water pool overlooking the bay. It's got 6 bedrooms, a 2000-bottle wine cellar and caretaker's house.
"These kinds of sellers would like to sell, but they are not prepared to lower their price dramatically, " said Jottras. "They don't have to sell."
-By CNBC's Robert Frank
Follow Robert Frank on Twitter: @robtfrank