More purchases, rising prices… 2021 was a “record” year for old real estate in France, but this risks “eliminating the most modest people” from the market, according to the Century real estate agency network 21.
The price per square meter has indeed continued to climb: in the third quarter, it reached 2,355 euros nationally for houses and 3,878 euros for apartments, according to INSEE and notaries. That is to say an increase of 7.4% for houses, and 5.3% for apartments.
Prices which “have increased everywhere in France”
While usually some regions are in decline, in 2021 “prices have increased everywhere in France”, observed Laurent Vimont, president of Century 21, during a press conference. The increase is particularly strong in New Aquitaine for houses (+ 13.2%) and in Brittany for apartments (+ 21.4%).
The rise in prices is explained by the tension in the market. After falling by 4% in 2020 under the effect of the pandemic, the number of transactions picked up quickly, thanks in particular to low borrowing rates. Some French people took the opportunity to buy larger after the confinements, while investors preferred to invest in stone, considered a safe investment in the midst of health uncertainty. According to notaries, the number of apartment and house purchases in 2021 is expected to return to its 2019 record level, at around 1.7 million. But the number of old housing remains limited on the market.
A rise in prices that is starting to destabilize the most fragile households
The problem with this price increase, according to Century 21, is that it “begins to destabilize the households with the lowest incomes and the youngest categories”. The branch network is thus observing a decline in these categories in purchasing, in particular in Île-de-France. Young people or households with the lowest incomes “have no other choice than to reduce the surface areas or to buy further away” from the big cities, assured Laurent Vimont.
Logically, the personal contribution necessary to acquire a property has increased: according to Century 21, it amounted in the second half of 2021 to 32,153 euros on average for an average loan of 247,499 euros. In this context, “any increase in borrowing rates will frighten the share of solvent households,” he added.
Investors who could turn away from the market?
He also warned about the risk of seeing investors turn away from the market with the ban from 2025 on renting housing considered as “thermal strainers”, very energy consuming.
The share of acquisitions intended for rental investment was at its highest in 2021 for the fourth consecutive year, at 30.2%, up 2.7% compared to 2020.