Property thoughts from Joanna Leggett, Marketing Director of Leggett Immobilier as she paints the national picture and gives us an insight into the latest trends
The run up to 31st December 2020 saw unprecedented demand from British buyers, wanting to get in before the end of the Brexit transition period. From our team in the north west tip of Brittany down through south west France to our agents in the south east corner of the Cote d’Azur we were rushed off our feet.
This leap in demand from the UK was matched by demand from domestic buyers and property was selling quickly, even during periods of confinement. Luckily we have been offering “virtual viewings” for many years and had thousands of virtual tours within our listings. Similarly we used electronic signatures to ensure sales continued smoothly – these contracts are simple and easy to use, even for “non techie” buyers.
Leggett is not alone, agencies across the country reported a jump in sales. The Axel Springer Group (owner of a portfolio of leading French portals) predicts that overall we will see 918,000 sales across France for 2020, a remarkable number considering the estimated 180,000 sales lost during lockdown.
The general consensus was that this pre-Brexit rush would lead to a huge drop in demand from UK buyers this year – boy was that wrong! We started the year with a sales pipeline that was 51% higher than this time last year.
What has happened is that, last year, our typical client was looking to move full time to France (either to retire or to work from home) and they wanted to get in before the residency rules changed. This year, our typical buyers are looking for a second home that they can enjoy for longer holidays, whilst working from home in a sunnier and more pleasant environment.
There has been much talk about second home owners only being allowed to visit for 90 days out of every 180 – but the truth is that three months at a time is more than long enough for most people. I read a report from UBS Global Wealth Management recently that was describing how three quarters of the people they interviewed said that they anticipate a permanent lifestyle shift post Covid. They are looking to reduce the amount of time they spend in the office and, of course, home ownership is central to how this change will be implemented.
We have found that an increasing number of clients (both international and domestic) are looking for property with plenty of outside space and the ability to work from home. This means a separate home office and excellent broadband connection. France has a dedicated broadband plan, called France Tres Haut Debit, within which the Government has committed to providing a minimum 30mb broadband for everyone by 2022 and fiber optic for all by 2025.
Boom times ahead?
Expect to see sales of French rural property boom in 2021, prices in cities have soared over the last few years and country house prices have yet to catch up – they offer exceptional value for money.
It looks as though Covid has caused a permanent shift in what kind of property people want to live in.
First published in the Feb-Apr 2021 issue of The Local Buzz
Images: Leggett Immobilier