The pandemic continues unabated as we head into the fourth quarter of 2020, so let’s take a look at how it’s affecting the residential sector and discuss the likely prospects for the market.
The number of properties for sale and the number of indebted property developers are nowhere near as large as they were in 2008. Nevertheless, in recent months the size of the property offering is increasing (by 20% on real estate websites), due to three main factors:
- Property owners whose sources of income have been affected by the pandemic need liquidity.
- Changes of residence, from apartments to houses or to more spacious properties.
- Rental properties that are put on the property sale market, due to the regulation of rental prices and/or the collapse of tourist rentals.
These factors are clearly beginning to drive prices down, although not uniformly. The drop will be greater in certain areas and smaller in more dynamic areas or in the places preferred by investors. Over the last few months, we’ve already observed a reduction in the number of transactions taking place but an increase in the average value of the ones that are completed: purchases of cheaper properties, generally made by more modest households, are slowing down, while purchases of more expensive properties, by wealthier households, remain on an even keel. So while the number of transactions has decreased significantly, the absolute value of completed transactions has not.
As we’ve pointed out above, the offering has gradually been increasing, while part of the demand is waiting to see whether there’ll be a downward trend in prices. Although many sellers are reluctant to drop prices and can wait for the recovery that will undoubtedly take place once a vaccine becomes available and the epidemiological situation improves, property sellers’ expectations have altered over the last few months. Buyers have more negotiating power and the gap has widened between asking prices and prices paid. Buyers should be on the lookout for new opportunities, and this is definitely a good time to buy.
It does not look like the soaring rents of recent years will see a downward trend similar to that of property purchase prices. The rental market remains too small and will still take some time to adjust to demand. Nevertheless, there is likely to be a decrease in rental prices in cities due to the fact that many seasonal and tourist rental properties are being turned into conventional rental properties due to the dramatic fall-off in tourism revenues. Furthermore, tenants whose economic activities have been affected by the pandemic will be searching for cheaper properties, even if they are not in a good location.
Buying versus renting
Except in the case of those with limited resources or those requiring a provisional solution, in the current context we would unreservedly recommend buying. In addition to the fact that you never recover the value spent on rent, monthly rental payments tend to be higher than monthly mortgage payments for properties of equal value. According to statistical averages, rental payments amount to 40% of the tenant’s gross salary, while mortgage payments represent 30% of the buyer’s gross salary. Another important factor to take into account is that current purchase prices are around 30% lower than they were at the peak of the housing boom (2007), while rental prices are very similar now to what they were then.
Meanwhile, as far as wealthier clients are concerned, there are no restrictions on mortgage credits; banks are competing with each other to attract these clients and may offer them truly exceptional conditions.
We’re convinced that the end of 2020 and at least the first half of 2021 will be a very good time to buy or invest in real estate. Opportunities are cropping up, so if you’re alert to them and seek out expert advice, you may be able to complete purchases with advantageous conditions that will simply not exist when things return to normal, the recovery begins and an upward trend takes hold.
In these changing times, it’s crucial to make the most of the expert advice and management services offered a by a trustworthy, highly professional real estate agency. At Gènion Immobles we specialise in the sale and purchase of property, keep a constant eye on property market trends and help you to find the best opportunities and financing. You’re in safe hands with us.