Analysis carried out by Daniel Féau and Belles demeures de France between the 8th and 15th of May 2020, questioning 902 potential buyers who were, prior to lockdown, actively seeking to acquire an asset in Paris or the nearby western suburbs.
The principal results of the study:
1. The percentage of buyers intending to pursue their project is higher than we anticipated.
Only 10.40% of those questioned have put their project on standby, and 7.40% have not yet come to a decision. 82.20% of those questioned intend to pursue their project: without delay for 64.20%, within the next few weeks for 22.90% and within the next few months for 12.90%.
2. Buyers are more confident - and more active - than we expected.
About 82.10% of buyers questioned are seeking to acquire a main residence. Taking into account the market segment in which Daniel Féau and Belles demeures de France operate, the immense majority of clients already own their main residence, and the sale of the latter is often part of the project.
Over 70% of clients in this situation, that is to say at the same time buyers and sellers, would prefer to find their future main residence before selling the one they currently occupy – possibly taking on a bridge loan – rather than find themselves in the contrary position.
This seems to us the most significant indicator that confidence remains solid: in a situation in which confidence has been lost (for example in the autumn of 2008), the sale of the existing main residence is a deciding factor before moving on to the acquisition stage.
This confidence is also reflected in how those questioned expect prices to evolve. Although a little over 75% think that property prices shall drop over the next 24 months across France in general, over half (52.7%) foresee stability or even an increase in prices in Paris and in the nearby western suburbs, with over 6 out of 10 (61.5%) envisaging a similar situation for the type of asset that they are currently seeking.
The planned budget for the acquisition would also appear to reflect confidence, with over 70% of those questioned confirming that they shall maintain or even increase funds for their project.
Taking into account the results of our survey, this confidence which seems to be reflected in the activity that our agencies have witnessed may be explained by the following:
• 64.4% of those questioned agree that instability in the stock exchange shall probably lead to an increased demand for tangible assets, and notably realty.
• 75.1% think that the demand for 3/4 bed family apartments shall continue to exceed supply, owing to the rarity of such assets and particularly in Paris.
• 70.8% think that the demand for realty assets with strong rental potential shall continue to exceed supply as long as interest rates remain attractive.
• 74.3% of those questioned agree that, as a result of the significant debt that western states have incurred and will have to repay, inflation is foreseeable in the years ahead which, once again, shall encourage the acquisition of realty by means of credit.
• 55.7% envisage that wealthy foreign buyers shall once more invest in upmarket realty as soon as they can come back to France.
• 78.7% of those questioned foresee an increase in interest rates over the coming months.
3. Although some buyers have, in certain cases, changed their search criteria as a result of the Covid-19 crisis
About 70% of those questioned confirm that the crisis has not altered the characteristics of the property that they were, and are still seeking. This rises to 81.3% for buyers with a budget exceeding 2.5 M€. No significant change is therefore to be anticipated as far as this aspect is concerned.
The results show however that:
• 76,1% of those questioned think that the development of working from home shall have an effect on demand.
• 68% of those questioned think that over the next few months demand for secondary residences shall intensify.
This would seem to be upheld by the strong demand we have witnessed notably:
• In our Saint-Cloud and Versailles agencies for properties in the western suburbs
• In our Provence agency for properties located around Aix-en- Provence.
Following two months of lockdown, the market appears nonetheless to be dynamic, and significantly more so than we imagined a few weeks ago.
During the week following the reopening of our agencies, we have been in contact with a significant proportion of buyers who we were accompanying up to the 17th of March. Offers have been submitted and, in a certain number of cases, have already been accepted. We would imagine, taking into account visits to our websites and the results of this survey, that the other potential buyers shall shortly also be contacting us in order to pursue their project.
As far as vendors are concerned, surprisingly, little seems to have changed regarding their project.
Once again, realty seems to confirm its value as a tangible asset. Lockdown may to some extent have reinforced the notion that comfort in a house or apartment is absolutely essential for, not only do owners obviously possess a residence, but above all they live in it.