Unprecedented demand for property in the French countryside

Surge in demand for property in rural France in 2020 and 2021

The French rural property market is continuing its upwards trajectory which began this time last year in the middle of the pandemic. In 2020, despite Covid and lockdowns, estate agents in France sold a record number of houses in the French countryside.

This initially looked as if it was simply a short-term, knee-jerk reaction to the Covid crisis but, if anything, the trend appears to be accelerating this year with agents all over South West France complaining of an unprecedented demand from buyers for properties in the countryside but an increasing lack of supply. It seems that those living in towns and cities are moving to the country but those already there, are staying put.

The association Safer (Société d’aménagement foncier et d’établissement rural) which monitors the property market in rural France, recently announced a record number of house purchases in the French countryside, up 6.6% in 2020. In their most recent report, Safer called this trend un exode urbain or an exodus from urban living.

The president of Safer, Emmanuel Hyest, points out that this shift in property buying behaviour appears to be accelerating in 2021. He attributes this trend to changing aspirations brought on by the pandemic and a desire for a complete overhaul in lifestyle. He also suggests that it will prove to be a very positive development for the French rural economy especially as the majority of these new buyers are not moving to the country to work the land but continuing in paid employment and hence moving their income and expenditure from the town to the countryside which will result in many long-term benefits for rural businesses and communities.

He said that he sees this as a long-term and lasting phenomenon reversing the trend of rural depopulation of the last few decades. The consequence of this is rising house prices and hence we saw a growth of 6.1% in French property prices in December 2020 according to ceicdata.

Standard & Poor has also recently published a report for the European housing market for 2020-2021, which predicts that house prices in France will increase again during 2021 “as households continue to benefit from low-interest rates and a resilient economy bouncing back from the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Banque de France forecasts that the French economy is expected to grow this year and the next year. It is expected to grow by +7.4% in 2021 and +3.0% in 2022.

With one of the most regulated property markets in the world, France has always been a great place to invest and what also keeps the real estate market strong is that the demand is not only from French buyers but international investors also predominantly looking for rural properties.

As Franklin D. Roosevelt is quoted as saying; “Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care… it is about the safest investment in the world”.

If you need help in finding property in rural France, please get in touch: nadia@foothillsoffrance.com

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