Since end of lockdown, French real estate agencies have seen a surge in demand for properties outside the capital, especially by Parisians who wish to swap their small city apartments for a more spacious home outside the city.
“The lockdown was the final straw that saw people making the move,” said Brice Bonato, head of the real estate agency Sextant, told French newspaper Le Parisien.
A study by a company called Paris je te quitte (Paris I'm leaving you) found that 54 percent of the people asked said they wanted to leave the capital “as soon as possible” – up from 38 percent before the health crisis.
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Paris is notoriously expensive
Paris is one of the world’s most expensive cities when it comes to housing, with the average price per square metre set at over €10,000.
The combination of limited space, limited housing and very high demand has pushed prices in the French capital sky high, with prices rising by 62.5 percent over the past 10 years.
As a result, Parisians have got used to paying a lot for little. Few are able to purchase and most people live in rented apartments.
Like Paul and his family, most Parisians are looking to move to areas outside the capital in the Île-de-France region. These areas are often well-connected with RER trains that make it possible to commute if needed.
Searches for housing in Sens, in the Yvonne département southeast of Paris, surged by 80 percent from April 2019 to April 2020, according to the real estate agency Seloger.
In the towns of Evreux and Dreux, both west of the capital, demand has increased by 40 percent over the same period.
“We are seeing a real wish to be closer to nature, far from the stress of the city,” said Antoine Jouteau, Director of the sell-and-buy site Le Boncoin, told Le Parisien.
A house with a garden
Real estate agencies also note that most people want a house (59 percent), according to Seloger, and more and more are ticking of the box for an outdoor area.
“With remote working, people are spending a lot more time at home,” said Corinne Joly, director of the real estate website Pap.fr.
Is this a good time to move?
According to real estate agencies, this is not a bad time for buyers to make the leap.
After two months of complete of being completely paralysed during the lockdown, the real estate market is regaining full speed.
But many owners who have been waiting for a long time to sell “have no choice,” said Thomas Lefebvre, Research Director at MeilleurAgents, to the paper.
“They have to sell today,” he said.
That means there is a lot on offer, and buyers have more power than sellers.
Lefebvre also pointed to relatively good lending conditions.
“Borrowing today at 1.2 percent over 20 years, even if it has gone up slightly, remains very good conditions,” he said.