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France dreams of life in a fine old house

Being the owner of a fine, old and fully-renovated house is the dream of the vast majority of people in France with two out of three saying they would prefer a house to a flat.

Young people aged 18-24 already see themselves as property owners with 95% saying it is their dream – but they will need to work hard over their lives as 89% also say they want the property to be in Paris, where prices are high and expected to near €9,000/m² this month.

But the study of dream properties by website Bien’ici found wide variation in where people wanted to live and generally splitting depending on their age group – with young adults (18-24)and middle-aged (55-64) being most polarised.

The desire to be home-owners fades quickly with only 65% of 25-54 year-olds feeling they need to own a property. Older heads then start to see the value in having an inheritance or some savings in ‘bricks and mortar’ to boost a pension, with the number rising to 75% for the 55-64 year-olds and hitting 94% for the over-65s.

Bien’ici managing director David Benbassat said it was “easy to understand” why the home-owner desire faded as people aged 25-54 “were caught by the difficulties of being a young home-owner”.

Although France is seen as having a low home ownership rate, Eurostat figures show at the end of 2015 it had 64% of people owning their own homes – with the UK suffering from rising prices and the arrival of ‘generation rent’ and having a rate of 63.5%, down from a high of 73%.

The Bien’ici survey showed that 76% of women and 71% of men dreamed of becoming owners although more men opted for a “splendid house” rather than a “fabulous flat”.

Possibly for reasons of accessibility, 86% of over-65s opted for a flat. And while 56% of women preferred a new-build 86% of men said they would prefer an older renovated home.

In all, 35% of people said they would prefer to be in an urban area with Ile-de-France as No1.

But preferences changed with different age groups and the study showed that as people grew older they dreamed of moving from Paris.

The 18-24s opt for Ile-de-France with 96% while the 25-34s have 34% for Ile-de-France and 31% for Normandy; 35-44s go 33% for Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and 22% for Ile-de-France; 45-54s are split between Ile-de-France 25%, Nouvelle Aquitaine 24% and Occitanie 23%; 55-64s go 35% for Occitanie and 23% Nouvelle Aquitaine.

Once into retirement, 29% of over-65s look to Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur and 23% for Nouvelle Aquitaine.

Resident or second-home owner in France?
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