Brexit and Covid “lining” for the sale of houses in France

Brexit and Covid “lining” for the sale of houses in France

The Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit had an unexpected bright side for many Britons who were stuck with homes in areas such as Normandy and Brittany that they could not sell without significant loss.
The dual effect of Britons seeking to buy to establish a residence in France before Brexit and French residents wishing to flee crowded cities – particularly Paris – to spend more time in mid-sized cities has given the market a boost. .

Estate agent Suzanne Jenkins-Pearce said: ‘In 2020, after the first lockout and before the end of the Brexit transition period, there was a surge in UK buyers, with many properties languishing. on the market, often for several years. , suddenly selling.

Ms Jenkins-Pearce, who heads the Normandy agency Suzanne in France, said that after the 2008 financial crisis, house prices in the region fell 30-40% in some areas from their peak from 2002-03.

This left many UK and French homeowners facing a major financial blow if they were to sell and move on. Over the past decade, a trend has also been reported by Channel and Atlantic notaries that the French tradition of owning a vacation home in their own country is on the decline. The French are increasingly choosing to go on holiday abroad to various destinations, “leading to an inevitable drop in the number of sales” in coastal areas.

However, the real estate tide has now turned for a number of reasons, with Brexit and the pandemic being the most important.

New figures from the Notaries of France show significant price increases over the past year in many Norman towns; 13.7% in Dieppe (Seine-Maritime), 15% in Pont-Audemer (Eure), 11.5% in Cabourg and 9.1% in Trouville-sur-Mer (both Calvados).

Towns like Trouville-sur-Mer in Calvados are gaining popularity in the French property market

The past year has seen a dramatic increase in the number of Britons looking to buy property in France before the December 31 deadline, when British nationals moving to the continent would no longer be automatically eligible for residency.

The other factor, and likely to affect the real estate market for both British and French people for many years to come, is the pandemic.

Joanna Leggett, Marketing Director of French real estate specialists Leggett Immobilier, said: “Since Covid, there has been a clear trend, on the part of national and international buyers, for a rural property with more space, room for a home office and, most importantly, excellent Internet access. ”

This is often the type of property that UK sellers own, she said, noting that they have often looked for great connectivity to be able to access UK TV.

“Increased demand means properties are more likely to sell quickly and at a higher price than before the pandemic,” she said. She noted, however, that she had seen no tendency for the British to rush to sell in France.

“In fact, we see more Britons moving to France than returning to the UK. These buyers have often seen their families grow up in France and are looking to downsize.

“Typically, they can move out of old stone houses, which they have lovingly restored, and move to smaller properties that are more economical to manage.”

Ms Jenkins-Pearce said her agency is now seeing British clients from Nouvelle-Aquitaine and further south looking to sell and exchange homes in Normandy.

“A lot of times they downsize, which allows them to buy cheaper property and put the rest in the bank,” she said.

People from Paris or other large cities looking for a second home to escape.

The trend started last summer, when The world reported Bertrand Couturié, director of the high-end real estate agency Barnes Belles Villes de France: “The countryside was sometimes a little looked down upon compared to vacations in distant lands, but everyone realizes that the lockdown was more bearable in the countryside than the city. ”

‘There is a new enthusiasm for medium-sized cities’

There are also those who have decided to leave town entirely and work from home in a small town.

There is a new enthusiasm for medium-sized towns, cities of around 20,000 to 100,000 inhabitants, where houses can be cheaper and the quality of life higher.

An Ifop survey last fall found that a quarter of working people in cities hoped to leave them, including 36% of those under 35. He also revealed that 84% of all respondents would prefer to live in a medium city than a metropolis.

In December, sales trends indicated the campaign was “getting its revenge” on cities, with previous price trends reversed.

The price of provincial homes in particular was increasing quarter by quarter, he said.

Fiona Robino, a notary from Quimperlé on the Brittany coast, told Connexion: “I can confirm this trend of city dwellers who have been looking to move since last year.

“Prices have gone up because more and more people are coming from cities, working from home and looking for a more ventilated and less confined environment than in an apartment, so often looking for a house in a sizeable city environment.

She added: “The market is becoming saturated.

“People are staying in the area, there is a lot of demand and little housing available.”

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