During December we catch up with a few of our FrenchEntrée Partners and ask them for their reflections on 2020 – one of the most topsy-turvy years any of us have experienced – and their thoughts on what 2021 will look like for French Property buyers.
This week we hear from Suzanne Pearce (Suzanne in France) and Freddy Rueda (Real Estate Languedoc)!
What were your highlights of 2020?
Suzanne: 2020 has been my best year so far for sales since I opened my Agency in 2012. I am happy to have helped so many foreign buyers to find their dream property in Normandy this year.
Freddy: What is a real surprise is that overall the year has been as good (even better) in terms of number of sales than 2019. Many clients decided to purchase because of this new situation. For example, clients owning a house with no outside space wanted to change for one with outside space, clients from towns and cities decided to move to our beautiful Languedoc region.
What has been most difficult?
Suzanne: The frustration of finding solutions for ongoing sales during lockdown, particularly the first one, in relation to extended delays in obtaining paperwork from the French Administration, etc.
Freddy: This year has been very difficult with two lockdowns and lots of problems as a result. We have had clients rushing back home each time lockdown kicked in (as well as property owners), then coming back later, so very difficult in terms of doing business. When you cannot visit, full lockdown times are terrible, lots of enquiries from prospective buyers but all saying “we will come when it is allowed”.
How has your business had to adapt?
Suzanne: During the first lockdown I decided to finally put into practice a walk-through viewing tour for each property – so I set up the framework for this during lockdown.
Freddy: We’ve arranged videos and Zoom viewings, we were surprised to make 7 sales just that way.
What changes – if any – have you seen in buyer behaviour?
Suzanne: A definite propulsion to complete on a purchase or at least move to France before the end of 2020 so that they retain the rights accorded by the Governments during the Withdrawal Agreement term (for British buyers).
Freddy: It is more difficult to travel now to France as many airline companies don’t want to operate flights before end of March 2021. Buyers are a bit fed up, there is a mix of cautious clients waiting to purchase and others rushing to purchase.
What has turned out better than you thought?
Suzanne: The interest in the videos and the sales generated from them when clients have not physically viewed a property.
Freddy: The actual number of sales is totally unexpected for what you would easily call the worse year of your professional life!
Time for the Crystal Ball – what does 2021 hold for prospective buyers?
Suzanne: I think that the first 3 or 4 months of 2021 will be quieter with British buyers (except for the ones already in France in rented accommodation waiting to buy) whilst they digest the real changes that Brexit has created. For French buyers I think the market will remain strong but it will not be without problems as there is about a 30% increase in mortgages being refused at the moment.
Freddy: I think that the clients who had no possibility to purchase in 2020 will make everything to make it work in 2021 – so this is positive and many sales should result. Only the clients needing a mortgage may be affected as the banks are quite difficult … and this is not going to improve.
To see a selection of Suzanne’s lovely properties in Normandy, Brittany and Pays de La Loire, click here.
To see a selection of Freddy’s properties in the Languedoc, click here.
If you’re looking for a property and intend to make the dream a reality in 2021, get in touch.