How has lockdown affected the French property market, prices and what types of properties are people looking for now? How has our new world changed things in France?
France went into lockdown during the third week of March with stringent rules. These included limited travel from one’s home and the requirement to take a signed form when going out. As well as this, most shops and businesses closed for over two months.
By the end of May, there was a gradual re-opening of shops, garages and public buildings. Finally, on June 2nd, restaurants, cafes and bars were permitted to open. The property market, however, has remained strong throughout.
Our love of France continues
You may be surprised to know that the property market is very buoyant in France. It seems our love affair with France will forever continue, no matter what happens to our world! It could be said that many people are having to rethink how they run their lives in the midst of this pandemic. Many are questioning where they live and asking themselves – should I move? Where will I be safer? So, the property market here in France is still extremely active.
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I have talked to two local estate agents here in the south of France who both told me the market is booming. Not only that, but it was booming even during the lockdown – quite contrary to expectations.
Despite being unable to carry out any viewings for several weeks, from around mid-May, most agents did have the choice to carry on as normal. This was done whilst respecting the government guidance – i.e. social distancing, wearing a mask, good use of hand gel etc. As for enquiries from French people and some from overseas, these have escalated and continue to do so.
A surge of activity post-lockdown
The reasons for such great interest in property in France despite the lockdown? There can be many of course, possibly starting with people evaluating their lives, as mentioned above, and having more time to look seriously at moving, yearning for a quieter, safer life away from the big cities. As one agent put it to me, it is almost as if our strange new world has acted as a catalyst for people to buy a lovely French property right now, rather than wait any longer.
So with the increased interest, even during lockdown amongst French nationals, we are now seeing a surge of activity from British people, since most flights between the UK and France started up again on July 3rd. Naturally, there is still caution amongst most people. We have noticed many planning to drive down to France – a safer way to travel still, of course! But now that British people can come to France, there has been a real surge of visitors as we approach the height of summer.
It is almost as if our strange new world has acted as a catalyst for people to buy a lovely French property right now, rather than wait any longer.
A thirst for rural life
Interest in rural or village properties has increased enormously. Properties with a garden or land in rural France have now become much more popular, particularly amongst British buyers. Property prices in France do not increase nearly as much in France as in the UK. The market is generally slower and has always been so.
Having said that, now that travel is available (within reason) from the UK and other neighbouring countries, good countryside properties with outside space, priced reasonably, are selling quickly. Properties in towns and cities have not seen any significant increase in price. However, in the countryside, there are signs of a gradual increase in value in many areas.
Where to buy?
As for areas in which to buy, you have a huge choice of course; France is a huge country with so many beautiful regions. The most popular areas at the moment are the Loire Valley, the Limousin (where prices remain very reasonable indeed), Aquitaine and Occitanie.
Lockdown has left so many of us feeling strained, cooped up and yearning to get out into the open air. The area around Narbonne, Perpignan and Montpellier has a huge amount to offer in terms of property types, as well as proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, ski slopes and, of course, Spain. It also is very easy to get to from the UK with airports at Perpignan, Montpellier, Beziers and a little further north and west at Toulouse and Carcassonne.
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Living in the ‘new world’
As I write, the UK has re-implemented 14 days of quarantine for anyone travelling from Spain and there is some talk of the same being applied to travellers from France. This is being monitored closely, but hopefully will not happen. For every single one of us, the world has changed massively and new rules and regulations are appearing almost daily. However, in general, Europe is managing to contain this virus. Whilst it will always be with us, it is important to carry on with one’s plans, since we quite simply do not know what will happen next.
Hopefully, there won’t be a new lockdown in France. Thankfully, the wearing of masks became mandatory in all enclosed spaces a week ago. We must all simply live with this new world, take as many precautions as we can and pursue our dreams. If your dream is to buy a lovely French property, now may be one of the best ever times in which to do so.
The perfect time to embrace life in France?
There are some very attractive French mortgages available, as there hasn’t been any huge increase in property prices generally. You can still get far more for your money in France than you can in the UK. The subject of space is also something to consider. Put simply, France has way more of it than the UK. There is a great feeling here of being able to breathe in clean air, with less traffic and less pollution in many regions. The lifestyle is far more laid back and relaxed. It’s just what the doctor ordered after months of being stuck at home!
We would be delighted to help you in your property search and can help you with all aspects of this. If your post lockdown dream is to buy in France, you have come to the right place at the right time.