How will the French property market change post Coronavirus?

The property market in France got off to a flying start this year; all the agents were busy, lots of buyers were arranging viewings and new properties had started to appear for sale. That was, however, before the sudden arrival of Covid19 when life ground to a complete halt overnight and the property market to a standstill.

Viewings are now impossible in person (some agencies are doing virtual tours but in this region there are very few agents who are this advanced in their marketing), estate agent offices are closed and many sellers have withdrawn their properties from the market; certainly no new properties are coming up for sale. For people who have already signed the Compromis de Vente, the buying process is proceeding normally (albeit with Notaires working from home) and the French government have issued a temporary ‘Ordonnance’ to allow buyers and sellers to sign the Acte de Vente at completion remotely in order to stop the housing market grinding to a complete halt. Normally the signing has to be done in person or via Power of Attorney but the Ordonnance allows the use of electronic signatures via verified web portals just while the lockdown is in place. Some completion dates might be pushed back but this is not usually a problem as completion dates in France are a target, not a deadline and there is no penalty for delaying completion if necessary.

In terms of how Covid19 will impact the French property market longer term, it seems likely that the market will be slow initially while sellers and buyers wait for life to return to normal before either putting their properties up for sale or resuming their property search. For buyers with finance in place or secure jobs, they are going to be in a very strong position once the lockdown finishes as buyers are likely to be keener to accept offers and there will be fewer houses on the market and probably fewer buyers chasing those houses.

I also think that there might be a change longer term as to the type of property that buyers are looking for. Pre-coronavirus there was definitely a move towards smaller, renovated, turn-key properties in villages or edge of towns with manageable gardens but I wonder now if this trend will reverse and buyers will ask me to find more isolated, countryside properties with land that could be self-sufficient. I don’t really think that everyone is going to start living the Good Life but I do think that, subconsciously at least, buyers might be more attracted to those sorts of properties now.

I must admit that, yet again, I am certainly very glad to be hidden away in our rather disconnected and old-fashioned part of the world right now. This part of rural France is already very self-sufficient and pretty hardy too. We may not have Deliveroo, Indian takeaways or supermarket home delivery but most people here produce some of their own food and the French are famously expert at foraging. I’m sure it must be very different for those living in towns and cities but here, at least, we look out over fields and woods and we can still get outside and enjoy the start of Spring. And of course, the French health service is one of the best funded and most efficient in the world.

Without in any way taking away from those people who have been infected or at high risk from this virus and those putting their lives on hold to care for them, we perhaps still need to hold on to the positives; energy consumption has been hugely reduced worldwide as have emissions and pollution and nature and wildlife are thriving. Everyone is shopping less, cooking more, spending more time en famille and connecting more often with friends and neighbours and appreciating the simpler things and what is important in life. And nobody is talking about Brexit for the first time in over three years! So I guess the good thing we can take from this situation is that we have demonstrated that it is possible to change behaviour and fast so maybe there is hope still for dealing with climate change and for focusing our collective energies on what matters rather than against each other for what doesn’t.

In the short-term, I hope you all stay safe and well and, in the longer-term, I hope you don’t give up your dreams of having a home of your own in this beautiful part of France. As ever, please get in touch:



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