Property prices are soaring along France’s Atlantic coast, with the average cost of property rising 29% in five years in Brittany – partly due to the influx of people who began working from home during the pandemic.
Prices have also risen 26% in Nouvelle-Aquitaine and 16% in Normandy, over the same period.
These figures come from a report from nationwide estate agent Meilleurs Agents and l’Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (INSEE).
This is partly driven by the rise in short-term rentals, such as those listed on platforms such as Airbnb; and the rise in people moving from the cities to coastal areas during the pandemic, when many people’s jobs went entirely online.
Gilles Ménard, mayor of Granville in Manche, is working to fight continually rising prices. He told FranceInfo: “There are investors who today buy entire blocks of buildings to create apartments solely for tourist rentals so imposing some quotas would help us to regulate some issues.”
Several communes are calling to be recognised as a ‘zone tendue (zone under pressure)’ for housing, so they can benefit from regulations against short-term rentals.
Second-home owner protests
It comes amid a weekend of protests calling for more regulations on second-home owners in Bayonne (Pyrénées-Atlantique), and Brittany over the weekend (November 20-21).
Protester demands included adding purchasing restrictions for second-home owners, limits to short-term rentals, higher taxes for second-home owners, and the gradual eviction of non-residents from their homes.
Nil Caouissin, leader of one of the protest organisers, UDB (Union Démocratique Bretonne (UDB)), claims that as many as 80% of homes in popular seaside areas are second homes in the region, which are only lived in for three months of the year.
“[Yet] competition from wealthy second-home buyers puts prices up, so lower-income residents can only find housing a long way from their work,” he said. “If we want to house the growing population decently, one solution is to turn holiday homes into main residences.”
He has called for the gradual eviction of second homeowners, or a ban on any property being sold to non-permanent residents.
He said: “The idea is not targeted at the British, or any other population, and anyone who wants to make Brittany their permanent home is very welcome.”
However, some local leaders have called the proposals “an attack on individual property”.
Rising house prices
Overall, house prices for new homes in France have also soared over the past year*, reaching a record €5,195 per m² in towns with more than 45,000 people – the highest it has ever been.
This has been attributed to the ‘Covid effect’, which has caused a “structural lack of supply”, and caused the cost of raw materials to soar, the study said.
The highest rise was seen in Rennes, Brittany, where the cost of new housing has risen by 9.7% over one year, rising above €5,000 per m², to €5,055.
This means that Rennes has become more expensive per m² than Bordeaux.
Prices in Toulouse and Grenoble have also increased by more than 8% (8.4% and 8.1% respectively).
In Lille, prices have soared by 7.9% over a year to reach €4,203 per m², while the town of Villeurbanne (sometimes considered to be Lyon’s 10th arrondissement) has seen prices rise by 8.8% in a year.
Paris is still the most expensive city for new housing, at €12,498 per m² on average, followed by Lyon (€6,386) and Nice (€6,098).
*The figures come from the latest barometer from new housing specialist, le Laboratoire de l'immobilier, published by BFM Business.