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Property in France post-Covid: Outdoor space a priority

House buyers in France are still prioritising urban centres despite predictions that countryside homes would become more popular after confinement - although balconies and terraces are becoming more sought after.

As the French property market recovers after the Covid-19 crisis, new trends are emerging.

Property experts had considered that after deconfinement, house buyers could be more likely to seek larger homes in more rural areas, given the exodus seen from city centres as lockdown began.

Read more: French city-dwellers fleeing lockdown ‘spread virus’

But this prediction does not appear to have come to fruition. Instead, house buyers are still seeking homes in major towns and nearby commuter areas, but with outdoor space included.

Laurent Vimont, president of estate agency Century 21, told newspaper Le Figaro: “These predictions collapsed like a soufflé. Apart from a number of sales of beautiful second homes for some Parisians, the rest are no longer keeping their earlier resolutions.”

Second homes

According to Mr Vimont, secondary home sales have accounted for just 4.3% transactions in recent weeks, compared to 5.7% before confinement.

Similarly, it is not yet clear how confinement will affect trends among buyers looking for second homes further afield.

Yann Jehanno, president of estate agency Laforêt Immobilier, said: “Inland as well as on the coast, our Normandy agencies have seen a growth in Parisian clients looking for a second home. But we still do not know if these visits will result in sales.”


Medium-sized towns...with outdoor space

Despite the property market having restarted with aplomb after confinement ended, much of the demand is still focused on busy urban centres, major towns, and nearby “commuter belt” zones.

Mr Jehanno said that most of the demand is for properties within two hours’ drive of owners’ main homes, which cost between €100,000-150,000. People are looking for places that will not take up too much capital, and that should be easy to resell, he explained.

Yet, the most popular post-Covid properties appear to be those that are within urban centres, but which still have access to outdoor space, such as a balcony or a terrace.

Philippe Denis, deputy director of marketing at estate agency Cogedim, said: “A balcony or terrace has always been in high demand, but now, it is a non-negotiable condition for buyers looking for their main home.”

These spaces already make up 95% of the market (except for small studios and rental spaces).

Henry Buzy-Cazaux, president of estate agency institute l’Institut du management des services immobiliers, said: “People will continue to want homes with lots of light and air, with green spaces. In parallel, the need for nearby services - such as schools, shops, transport and healthcare - is also very strong.

“People are looking more towards medium-size towns and commuter belts, which offer a good compromise of both.”

Medium-sized towns such as Rambouillet (Yvelines, Ile-de-France) and Évreux (Eure, Normandy) are becoming increasingly popular in this category, which could ease the pressure of inflating demand in major city centres.

Mr Jehanno, at Laforêt Immobilier, said: “These trends are good news for the French property market.”

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