Graulhet : appealing prices
A member of the Tarn and Dadou "community of communes", Graulhet lies at the heart of the "département", a 40-minute drive from Toulouse and only 30 minutes from Castres and Albi. Home to nearly 13,000 inhabitants, this town surrounded by employment pools stands out for its particularly affordable housing.
This house of 320 m2 in the town centre benefits from grounds of 2,000 m2 with a pool and spa. 495.000 €. Agence du Jourdain (05 63 34 32 07).
Set on the lowest foothills of the Massif Central, between the River Dado, the stream of Le Verdaussou and the marshes of Le Jourdain, the 11th-century fortified village was for many long years a centre for leather tanning, an activity finally hit by the economic downturn. Today, the municipality, determined to improve the image of the third largest town in Le Tarn, is working on rehabilitation of brownfield sites. The 13th-century Pont-Vieux, the medieval neighbourhood of Panessac and the former tanneries in the Rue Saint-Jean bear witness to the town's rich past, while the lakes of Nabeillou and Miquelou provide pleasant walks. From the beer festival in February to the garage sale in September, the local calendar of events pays tribute to springtime, regional history and horses, while associations offer a good choice of sports and leisure activities.
"Graulhet enjoys an ideal location between the various employment areas in Le Tarn, Albi, Gaillac, Castres, Lavaur and Saint-Sulpice. Moreover, it also has its own industrial activity and service sector as indicated by professional tax returns," says Didier Mornas of Laforêt Immobilier. Villages on the outskirts, not having to deal with brownfields, are undergoing development. The great advantage offered by the locality is its highly atttractive prices. As there are not many apartments, buyers show more interest in houses benefitting from gardens. The market starts at 50,000 €, a sum bringing living space of 80 m2 on two floors, in need of restoration and, at this price, without an exterior. Most transactions range from 80,000 to 250,000 €, a price bracket allowing for 130 m2 all on one floor with grounds of 1,000-1,500 m2 and a swimming pool. The top end of the market takes the form of bourgeois houses in the town centre or renovated farmhouses in the country, usually offering 300 m2 of living space and priced between 300,000 and 350,000 €. Unfortunately, this category is still suffering from the effects of the crisis. Locals in search of a main home are joined by 25 % of senior citizens from other parts of France, drawn by the quality of life in the region and its particularly appealing property prices.
"The vast majority of sales can be attributed to first-time buyers, at prices ranging from 80,000 to 160,000 €," notes Geneviève Cadalen of the Agence du Jourdain. The centre still suffers from rather shabby decor, while the outskirts, the area in immediate proximity to the entrance to the motorway and the Albi-Toulouse axis are in great demand. Some neighbourhoods are thus openly shunned and it will take a few years before Graulhet recovers its former splendour. Among the last deeds signed, our estate-agent mentions a property of 115 m2 in excellent condition, located in the historic heart of town and sold for 129,000 €, another of 120 m2 in the same location, overlooking a courtyard and to be restored, at 65,000 €, and a new house of 100 m2 with a garden of 1,000 m2, outside the town, at 131,000 €. All three houses were snapped up by young couples. Eliane Bruyère of Bruyère Immobilier also points to a resurgence of interest in well-appointed properties ready to move in and close to shops, especially where the municipality is sparing no efforts to get rid of the brownfields. "The aim is, in fact, to rehabilitate our existing heritage and make intelligent use of this potential rather than endlessly regretting the decline of the tanneries and the industrial crisis." Some buyers from Toulouse, unable to afford properties in the Haute-Garonne, set their sights on building plots of 1,000 m2, costing from 35,000 to 40,000 €. The surrounding countryside is as lovely as it is undulating, and offers many opportunities. With a budget of 150,000 €, these clients can build a home of 90 m2 with a garage, perfectly suiting their needs and taste.