BNP Paribas uses cookies on this website. By continuing to use our website you accept the use of these cookies. Please see our cookies policy for more information and to learn how to block cookies from your computer. Blocking cookies may mean you experience reduced functionality or be prevented from using the website completely.

#Rural Estate — 24.08.2016

French Rural Land: An Appealing Diversification Opportunity That Still Attracts Buyers

Benoît Lechenault

The average prices observed are currently lower than those of European neighbors, and the overall profitability of capital invested in the French rural land remains attractive.

We are seeing an increase in the number of non-farming investors. As such, investment in farmland remains particularly attractive as a means of diversifying or transferring assets.


Land prices continue to rise, even though profits from farming are falling.

According to a report by the Chambers of Agriculture, average farm costs are €353,000, but yield profit of less than 1%. Against a general backdrop of falling prices and farming income, land values continue to rise in line with the sector consolidation trend. Between 1955 and 2010, there has been a fourfold reduction in the overall number of farms.

Farming statistics put the total number of farms at 300,000 in 2025, compared with 515,000 today. Given this trend, the need to finance land and farming capital is becoming vital, and those working in the sector are exploring new sources of financing: crowdfunding, land investment by external investors, etc.


But for the first time, the pace of growth in farmland prices slowed in 2015.

In France, the average price per hectare of farmland was €5,835 compared with €5,675 in 2014. Year-on-year, the average price rose by just 2.8% in 2015, versus 6.2% in 2014. This slowdown should be seen in the context of falling farm income and product prices. Meanwhile, over the last ten years the supply of farmland has increased by 5.3% per year. Moreover, farmland remains much cheaper in France than in other European countries.
 

The price of arable land continues to outstrip pasture land.

The hierarchy of prices between the different types of farming remains unchanged: the average price per hectare of arable land is €7,020 (+2.5%), versus €4,650 per hectare (+3.3%) for polyculture/pasture land, i.e. a difference of around 20% compared with the national average.

The best grain-growing areas dominate the top end, with prices at more than €15,000 – or even €20,000 – per hectare. Notable among these are the Nord Pas de Calais region, the Santerre, Champagne Crayeuse and Saint Quentinois areas, and certain areas in the south of France, such as La Crau, or the Durance Valley. Land prices in the cheapest areas are between €2,500 and €3,000 per hectare, for example, in Mayenne, in the Jura region or the Morvan.

The average price for leased farmland went up by 6% year-on-year in 2015 to €4,795 per hectare, a much greater percentage increase than for freehold farmland. This increase was particularly marked for grain-growing areas, at 8.1% versus 2.8% for grassland.

In terms of profitability, the gross rental yield on leased land stands at an average of 3.5% per year, while the average rent is €166 per hectare. Depending on region and land type, the average gross rental yield varies between 3.9% for grassland and 3.2% for grain-growing land. These yields are a very positive sign, and in the current economic environment, we are seeing an increase in the number of non-farming investors. As such, investment in farmland remains particularly attractive as a means of diversifying or transferring assets.