Prices, climate, scams: Five updates for property owners in France

We look at why house price negotiations are back, when certain French properties could be underwater due to climate change and highlight a nasty housing scam

In our weekly roundup we look at the Russian market in France, a scam involving a fake notaire’s identity, and rising sea levels
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2022 will be year of ‘fair prices’ - CEO of estate agency network

Yann Jéhanno, the CEO of Laforêt real estate network in France, says that 2022 will be marked as the year of “fair housing prices” and the return of negotiation and haggling.

He gave his predictions on the year to come, reflections on a record-breaking 2021, and his thoughts on the upcoming presidential election in April in a wide-ranging interview with Figaro Immobilier.

“The phenomenon that will mark the year 2022 is that of fair prices and the return of negotiations and haggling,” he said.

“Today, a perfect property is snapped up very quickly…but as soon as there is the slightest defect, we see haggling for better prices and buyers taking more time.

“And this should be a rather permanent trend.”

He also spoke of 2021 as being a record year in terms of sales and price increases. It came on the back of a stunted 2020, when sales fell due to the coronavirus pandemic. That created pent up demand, and also saw many projects pushed back, adding to the high number of sales in 2021.

Mr Jéhanno said that now, demand is once again outstripping supply in the French housing sector.

“All territories have recovered [from 2020], with the exception of Paris, which is the only major city to have seen its prices fall in 2021.”

Regarding the upcoming presidential election, he said he expected housing to feature more prominently in candidates’ campaigns.

“It is the great absentee of the presidential debate,” he said.

“I think we need to change the way we think about it. We have to look at housing for the issue it represents. Housing is at the heart of everything: Purchasing power, access to employment, education and culture.

“In addition, housing must be dissociated from the five-year presidential term. We cannot solve the housing problem in France in five years. We need to move forward with a major housing plan.

“This is done first and foremost through land use planning… And then, working more closely with housing stakeholders."

You can read and/or watch the full interview at this link, in French.

Read more: Election in France: Pay, tax cuts, energy – what candidates promise

Russian clients have practically disappeared from market

France has set the objective of seizing the assets of Russian oligarchs with links to Vladimir Putin in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Read more: War in Ukraine: Russian oligarch’s €120m yacht seized in French port

Read more: Ukraine war: How French companies with Russian links may be affected

Read more: How can I support Ukraine with donations or aid in France?

However, the number of Russians buying properties in France has been decreasing for several years now in any case.

Alexander Kraft, chairman and CEO of Sotheby's International Realty France, said that since 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian autonomous republic of Crimea, the number of Russian clients has halved.

“With the coronavirus pandemic, Russian clients have practically disappeared from the market,” he told Figaro Immobilier.

“Since Vladimir Putin introduced an obligation to declare money transfers to buy a property to the tax authorities, Russian customers are much rarer.”

He said that over the past five years, around 130 to 140 properties in Ile-de-France have been sold to Russian clients, according to notaires figures. This is under 1% of the total purchases made by foreigners (residents and non-residents).

In the rest of France, between 280 and 387 properties have been bought by Russians, again under 1% of total purchases made by foreigners (residents and non-residents).

Mr Kraft said that he did not think Russians with properties in France would now be quickly looking to sell them, as most have been bought through correct means, but they will likely “try to keep a low profile”.

Beware fake notaire scam

A woman in France in the process of buying a second home has fallen victim to a scam in which she sent €160,000 to an account that tricked her into thinking it was her notaire.

Hackers had infiltrated the woman’s email and had followed the process of her buying the property. They then sent her an email posing as the notaire’s assistant, asking for the payment of €160,000, based on the real price that the woman was due.

The woman, believing the email to be real as she was expecting to pay the notaire this sum, paid up.

She has since been able to recover €100,000 of the total sum.

She blames her bank for not taking more care to verify the fake bank details.

Sébastien Dupond, owner of Cyber4U, a cybersecurity company that supports small and medium-sized businesses and who decided to assist the scammed woman, said the responsibility is spread among several parties.

Besides the bank, who he said should have taken more care, there is also the woman’s email service, which should have noticed that there was odd activity when it was hacked from Ivory Coast.

He also says that the notaire’s office, which has a habit of sending the bank details directly to its clients, should instead be going through secure payment systems.

French wire service AFP has estimated that several dozen people may have fallen victim to this type of scam in the past year, although the exact figure is not known.

In some cases, the scammers hack the notaire’s email addresses instead of the clients.

Is your home at risk of being submerged by rising sea-levels?

Climate change is an increasingly pressing issue for humanity. This is demonstrated by a new tool developed by a French start-up that calculates when your street will be submerged by rising sea levels.

It has been created by Callendar, specialists in climate risks. See the submersion calculator here.

Essentially, you input your address into the calculator, and it will give you estimates on when that street will be underwater.

For example, search the street Rue Voltaire in Le Havre, which is on the Channel coast.

It will give you a pessimistic estimation of when the street will be submerged, which it says is from the year 2130, and a more moderate estimation, which it gives as 2180.

This may not seem too concerning, but the website states that there are other factors. For example, even if the street your house is on is not submerged for another 100 years, nearby amenities and infrastructure could be heavily damaged much sooner. This will impact the standard of living, and can also impact the house prices in that area.

While coastal property is usually more expensive, a seaside location could eventually turn into a disadvantage.

Callendar also published a study in February that found that 6,000 to 9,000 properties sold over the past five years in France will be submerged by sea levels at high tide by 2050.

It found that another 15,000 properties will become flood risks before the middle of this century.

In France, it will become mandatory to inform buyers and tenants about the risks of coastal erosion when advertising a property from 2023.

However, this does not include the risk of submersion by sea levels.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, estimates that the average sea level has risen by 20cm between 1901 and 2018 and that the rate it is rising has accelerated significantly between 2006 and 2018.

Parking for removal vans in Paris no longer free

It is now necessary to pay for parking for removal vans in Paris, even when they are parked in paid parking spots.

It was already necessary to pay for a removal van to park in spaces that were not paid for (for example, on the pavement, in bus lanes, delivery spots, etc.).

The prices vary depending on the size of the vehicle, whether or not you use a special furniture removal cherry-picker (monte-meuble), how long the van is parked for and where it is parked.

If you plan to park a light van in a paid parking space, expect to pay €17 for a half day parking and €27 for a full day.

For a larger vehicle, this can be €35 for a half day and €60 for a full day.

The prices increase when parking in non-paid spots.

See more information on prices here.

Paris is not the first place to impose this charge, with other towns and cities such as Meudon, Colombes, Marseille and Lyon introducing similar measures.

La Ville de Paris said the reason for introducing the charge is that there is a high demand for using road space for other reasons, such as for green spaces, lanes for other transportation means, etc.

“These trends have naturally led to the consideration that even temporary and non-commercial occupations of space, which constitute a form of privatisation of public space, should also be subject to a fee,” La Ville de Paris stated.

If you are renting a removals van in Paris you should make an application to the Autorisation d’Occupation Temporaire service at least two weeks before you plan to move.

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