For members


The ‘unwanted’ French properties with falling prices

The lockdowns and travel restrictions caused by the pandemic are changing what potential buyers are looking for in their future homes in France, as well as what they’re trying to avoid.

The 'unwanted' French properties with falling prices
More than a third of future buyers want to move away from big cities. Photo: Philippe Lopez/AFP

By revolutionising the way we live, the pandemic has shifted our views on what makes a home attractive, especially after spending the majority of the past year working from home.

“This has definitely changed what people want,” Joanna Leggett, Marketing Director at Leggett Immobilier, told The Local.


It has also changed what they don’t want. Covid-19 has impacted France’s property market in several ways, such as the move away from big cities like Paris and, a rejection of the pre-pandemic lifestyle known as “Métro-boulot-dodo” (Metro-work-sleep).

Of course, not everyone will want to (or will be able to) settle in a remote village in the middle of the countryside. Not everyone can work remotely, and the majority of jobs and services are still concentrated in big cities. 

But here are some factors to bear in mind if you’re thinking of selling or buying a property in France in 2021.

Too small

A study conducted during the first lockdown last spring found that only 23 percent of people spent lockdown in a property larger than 101 square metres. In Paris, 69 percent of people were confined inside an apartment.

Since then, the demand for small properties such as city apartments without balconies or access to green areas has dropped. According to a study by real estate website, over a third of future buyers now want to move away from big cities.

“Generally speaking, there has been a shift among the urban population towards greener areas,” according to report by the Notaires de France, published on February 15th.

Parisians moved to the suburbs while inhabitants of the greater Paris Île-de-France region “spread out towards Normandy, La Perche or Burgundy,” according to the report.

READ ALSO: Suburbs’ property prices soar as Parisians continue to flee the city

It added: “In the same vein as French residents, non-resident foreign buyers in the provinces are shifting their investment from urban centres to rural areas.”

As a result, property prices in Paris dropped by 0.1 percent in 2020, breaking with a trend of a 9.9 percent rise registered the past two years – 31.4 percent when looking back five years. 

Leggett said this trend would likely continue in 2021, saying: “Paris’ prices are expected to drop whereas they always increase.”

No outdoor space

For international or French buyers, a balcony, garden or proximity to nature have become key requests, in rural areas and cities alike. Properties without access to green areas or a balcony are therefore less in demand than before the pandemic hit.

“Outside space has become a major criteria,” Leggett said. “It’s the one thing everybody mentions in their initial email.”

On advertising site Leboncoin, searches for “house with a garden” and “house by the sea” increased by 40 percent compared to the same period the previous year.

Meanwhile in cities, balconies and terraces have become a basic requirement for those looking to buy a flat, and on average increase the price of a property by 8.8 percent

“Countryside properties are increasingly in demand,” Leggett said.

More functional 

Widespread remote working has meant that having enough space to work from home has become a basic requirement. Having a separate room for work is not a luxury the majority of people had, with many setting up their offices at their kitchen or dining tables.

When French people suddenly found themselves in lockdown a year ago, 34 percent of them said they lacked a proper work space, according to a study on the quality of housing by Ipsos, while 60 percent said they would have liked to have one.

That extra space has since become essential, especially considering that some companies are likely to become more flexible when employees go back to the office, and will be more open to letting them to work from home a couple of days a week.

Apartment buildings

In cities as well as towns, copropriétés (co-ownership), where buildings are owned jointly by individual flat-owners, are common in France.

But lockdown has made people eager to own a space that is separated from other people, without the hassle that comes with managing a co-owned building, and without the noise that comes from living in close proximity with neighbours. 

According to SeLoger, seven out of ten French people aspire to own a house one day, and the figures from Orpi show that 59 percent of buyers are looking for a house, and 9 percent rejected the idea of living in an apartment at all.

Holidays at home

The pandemic has also made the international property market less attractive than the domestic one for second home buyers.

“There is a big increase in French people looking for holiday homes at home,” Leggett said.

Biarritz, Charente-Maritimes, La Rochelle – the entire west coast is seeing its popularity surge, as people crave a second home to escape to without needing to do a Covid test.

The trends differ when looking at French and international buyers, Leggett said. French property hunters are ditching big cities for the suburbs, where they might be able to afford a house with a garden.

Internationals have changed their behaviour less following the pandemic, but Leggett said they rarely tended to look for property in French cities either way – except in Paris. With the capital’s popularity in decline, there will be possibilities for making relatively good real estate deals in 2021.

“If you can get a two-bedroom apartment for an underrated price now, it will still be a good investment in the future,” she said.

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For members


What second-home owners in France need to know about 2022 property taxes

Autumn in France is property tax season - and for second-home owners there are some important changes to know about this year.

What second-home owners in France need to know about 2022 property taxes

Every year in September and October, households in France receive their property tax bills – which have historically included three things; taxe foncière, taxe d’habitation and the redevance audiovisuelle (TV licence).

For main properties, two of these taxes have all-but disappeared, but for second home-owners the situation is a little different.

Taxe d’habitation

This is the tax paid by the householder and it is being gradually phased out in France and most households no longer need to pay it – the exception to this, however, is maisons sécondaire (second homes).

Local councils set the rate for this tax, and in some areas this can include an additional surcharge on taxe d’habitation on second homes.

This usually applies in areas that have a housing shortage, and although the surcharge has existed for several years it has recently been expanded to include new areas.

Taxe foncière

This is the tax paid by the property owner and this remains in place, and in some areas has increased. Some local authorities, faced with the shortfall in overall taxe d’hab funds, have increased surcharges on the tax for second homes, while most local authorities are also increasing taxe foncière charges to offset the drop in revenues.

This tax is calculated based partly on the size and value of the property you own (which is why if you do any major renovations or add a swimming pool you need to tell the tax office) and partly on the tax level decided by your local authority. 

This means that the actual rate varies quite widely between different parts of France, but in some areas it has gone up by 20 percent.

Redevance audiovisuelle

This is the TV licence and this has been scrapped this year – including for second homes – so your bill will no longer have the €138 per household TV charge. 

Waste collection taxes

Some communes, especially in rural areas, also charge a taxe d’enlèvement des ordures ménagères (TEOM) or la redevance d’enlèvement des ordures ménagères (REOM) to cover rubbish collection. These are also payable in the autumn, although dates and amounts vary from commune to commune.

Renovation projects

If your property is what real estate agents refer to as an ‘opportunity for renovation’ you may be exempt from taxe d’habitation if your property is uninhabitable.

This is this is strictly defined in France as meaning a property is unfurnished, is not connected to utility services, and/or needs work costing at least 25 percent of the value of the property to make it habitable.

Other information

The amount of both taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation varies across France, but you should be informed in the sale details of the amount of the taxe foncière, and you can also request to know the amount of the taxe d’habitation when you buy a property. 

READ ALSO Why French homeowners face higher property taxes in 2023

Second homeowners are not eligible for most reductions or exemptions available on taxe foncière, with the exception of over 75s who are on low incomes. Be aware this is not automatic for second homeowners and must be specifically requested by those who are eligible.

Be aware, too, that authorities can charge an additional 10 percent for late payment without good reason – though you may get this removed if you write a polite formal letter asking for a remise gracieuse de la majoration. You can search for model letters on the internet.