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Shortages in France – which items are affected

The global economic recovery following Covid-related disruption has lead to disruptions in the supply chain around the world, and France is no exception. These are the items that are in short supply in France.

Employees work at an IKEA warehouse in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. IKEA France has reported problems getting products to its shelves.
Employees work at an IKEA warehouse in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier. IKEA France has reported problems getting products to its shelves. Photo: JEFF PACHOUD / AFP.

There have been no reports of food shortages – or anything else affecting supermarket shelves – or petrol in France, unlike in the UK.

But if you’re in the market for a new car, or planning renovation work on your home, you are likely to feel the effects.

These are the industries currently suffering from shortages, and what they mean for you.

Car industry

Most people had never heard the word “semiconductor” until recently, but now it’s inescapable. You never know what you have until it’s gone.

These microchips are essential for everything in modern vehicles from anti-lock braking systems to airbags to parking assistance technology. But a global semiconductor shortage has put the industry on hold, especially as car manufacturers must compete with other industries including smartphones and games consoles for the chips.

Last month, European new car sales fell to their lowest level for a month of September since 1995 as a global shortage of semiconductors hit supply. Sales in France were down by a fifth compared to September 2020.

The result has been factories on hold and subcontractors having to put workers on furlough, meaning buyers are having to wait longer for their cars to be ready, often up to six months.

French manufacturer Renault, meanwhile, has begun selling its Clio, Captur and Arkan models without the option of wing mirrors which fold in electronically, L’Argus reported earlier this month. Buyers have been told to bring their vehicles to a workshop to have the electric mirrors installed once the components are ready.

Disruption to the supply of new cars has had a knock-on effect on the used car market, too, as more people look to buy second-hand, and fewer people trade in their old cars, meaning you could have to pay more for a used vehicle.

Construction

In the construction industry, disruption to supply has combined with a rising demand for home renovations to lead to a steep rise in prices and concerns over potential delays to building work. If you are planning to undertake building work on your home, you may have to pay more for the job and wait longer than usual.

A study by the Confederation of Crafts and Small Building Companies (Capeb) last month found that 57 percent of small building companies had noticed disruptions to supplies, and 76 percent reported a rise in prices.

Capeb president Jean-Christophe Repon told Libération that “nobody is guaranteeing a quote price for more than six months anymore”.

Among the materials affected are steel, copper, PVC, and timber. The timber industry has had to raise prices by 8 to 15 percent in the past year, Repon told Ouest France, “and even up to 20 percent for timber-framed houses”.

READ ALSO French building boom leads to shortage of builders for property renovation projects

Decorations

It’s not just large building sites or significant home improvement projects which have been affected – it has also become more difficult to find the little things to spruce up your home.

In line with trends in its stores across the globe, Ikea France confirmed to Les Echos on September 27th that 20 percent of its products were missing from its aisles. Of that, 15 percent concerned smaller articles, while 5 percent referred to furniture. The supply-chain problems are reportedly due to transportation difficulties, from a lack of shipping containers to an insufficient number of lorry drivers.

Since the spring, there have also been regular reports of paint shortages.

Publishing

Unsurprisingly, a shortage of wood also means a shortage of paper. Due to the slowing down of the production of paper pulp, the raw material used to make paper; disruptions to international trade; and the fact more producers are using pulp to make cardboard instead, French publishers are facing increased prices and longer delivery times.

“My father created the Corlet printing company in 1961, and he never saw shortages like the ones we’re experiencing today!” Jean-Luc Corlet, CEO of the family company, told Le Monde.

“The prices have doubled. Shipping times have gone from two to eight weeks,” Wilfried Souchet, commercial director at Riccobono Imprimeur, told Libération.

While there are no price rises on the immediate horizon, this could affect publishers’ ability to reprint books that are selling unexpectedly well, RTL reports.

And while the cost of producing toilet paper has also risen, there are currently no suggestions of a shortage, so there is no reason to go out panic buying.

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PROPERTY

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

If you're researching the French property market, you might have come across mentions of 'courtiers' - here's what they do and whether they are necessary.

Courtier: Should you hire a broker when buying property in France?

The French ‘courtier‘ is usually translated as a broker, and the Notaires Association describes their role like this: “the broker is a true intermediary in banking operations. His/her role is to negotiate the best rates for you, but not only that: they will also find the most advantageous financing conditions for the realisation of your project.”

Essentially they act as an intermediary between you and the banks, so they’re only required if you need a mortgage or a loan in order to buy your French property. 

Their job is to research the best deals for you and then to help you put together your application and ensure that all your paperwork is correct – unlike the notaire, instructing a courtier is not a required part of the process, so the decision on whether to instruct one is up to you. 

So is it worth it?

Among French buyers, around 30 percent of mortgages are obtained using the services of a courtier, and this rises to 60 percent among young, first-time buyers, who generally find it harder to access credit.

Some of things to consider are your level of French and confidence in negotiating French bureaucracy, your financial situation (since French mortgage lenders tend to be stricter than those in the UK or US) and whether you currently live in France or not (since there are extra hoops to jump through for overseas buyers).

READ ALSO Is now a good time to buy a home in France?

“Things have changed,” Trevor Leggett, group president of Leggett International estate agents, told The Local. “It’s now more important than ever to work closely with a reputable broker.

“In France it is all paper-based, very old-school and extremely bureaucratic, a different world entirely to the UK. Preparing the client “dossier” so that it will be accepted is an art form.”

READ ALSO MAP: Where in France can you buy property for less than €100k?

He advised non-resident international clients, particularly, who may not be au fait with the French system to seek the help of a broker who knows the ropes.

“The question is no longer really about savings,” he said. “It is about finding a bank that can actually lend to the client profile, interests rate are secondary. 

“It occasionally happens that one bank can be played off against another, or to shop around, but it’s a rare event nowadays.”

READ ALSO Revealed: The ‘hidden’ extra costs when buying property in France

And he had no hesitation in recommending that prospective buyers find a broker to sort out the financing.

“The lending market has tightened for international buyers and a good one is worth their weight in gold,” he said.

READ ALSO EXPLAINED: Time-frame for buying and selling property in France

In France, you make an offer on a property and then you begin the mortgage process (while in the UK it’s the other way round) so problems in getting your mortgage approved could lead to you losing your dream property.

“[Using a courtier] can be the difference between buying and not,” added Trevor.

“It’s not just any possible language barrier – but understanding the process and the different players in the market.”

How much?

The cost of hiring a courtier is borne by the buyer – but how much do they charge?

The courtier usually charges a percentage of the total mortgage amount – fees must be fixed in advance and are only payable once your mortgage application has been approved. 

Fees vary between different areas and different businesses, but the average fee is €2,000, which amounts to around one percent of the purchase price.

Many brokers set a minimum amount – around €1,500 – for smaller loans, and take a percentage of larger loans, so how much you pay depends on your property budget. 

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