The sale some time ago by one of our agencies, in this case Belles demeures de France, of the world’s most expensive residence located to the west of Paris is today once again headline news as Emmanuel Macron hosts a visit to the capital by its buyer, Mohammed ben Salmane, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia.
Due to our policy to not comment on our sales, a stance we shall steadfastly maintain in order to protect our clients’ privacy, we remained discrete regarding this transaction. Now public knowledge, this remarkable sale illustrates the extent to which buyers, and particularly foreign buyers, are attracted to Paris and its luxury real estate, and this at a time when many are quite rightly expressing concern about the market in general in France.
Some of our recent sales, even if they are at less eyewatering prices, illustrate that Paris, with its historical landmarks, its remarkable residential architecture and its unique atmosphere, has lost none of its magic in the eyes of wealthy foreigners.
They see Paris as a city steeped in history, a symbol of luxury, and a hub for art and culture. Many even describe it as the most beautiful city in the world!
It is therefore no coincidence that, following Brexit, major global banks such as Bank of America, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have very recently chosen to expand or even set up new headquarters in Paris rather than in Germany or Amsterdam where the tax system and social charges are in fact more favourable. Bloomberg recently declared “if any city can make claim to being the bloc’s new preeminent hub, it’s Paris”.
We note that the residential luxury market in New York, despite having more UHNWI*, is more affected than in Paris.
The same goes for London.
We can still count on a loyal contingent of buyers from the United States and the Middle East, particularly from the Gulf States, Lebanon and now even Israel, which is new. We also have Chinese buyers, and of course, French buyers in finance coming back home from London.
Our group, leader now for 75 years in the capital's luxury and high-end market, is not in fact currently witnessing the crisis that has been widely evoked since the end of 2022.
We have nonetheless noted that “ordinary” apartments may indeed be subject to more tense or longer negotiations for a fraction of French family customers affected by the rise in rates and timorous banks.
But if we look at the figures, we do not witness the worrying situation which affects newbuild in particular.
Over the past two months, from April 1st to the beginning of June, our Daniel Féau and Belles demeures de France agencies have achieved 431 million euro in sales of apartments, single-family homes and private mansions in Paris and its desirable western suburbs.
While admittedly this is slightly lower (- 5%) than figures for the same period last year, it is significantly higher (+ 25%) than for the same months of pre Covid 2019.
If we take into consideration that 2022 - and particularly the first six months - was an excellent year, it is difficult to conclude that the market is in a slump.
It is clear that Daniel Féau specializes in luxury or exceptional properties, in perfect condition, benefiting from a view and/or with terraces or gardens, which particularly attract wealthy international and French buyers... But we have also nonetheless sold since the beginning of April 136 family apartments at prices between 1 and 2.5 million euro totaling 237 million euro. And taking into consideration our share of the market in both the luxury and family market, it seems most unlikely that our observations are not representative of the state of the Parisian market.
How then may we explain this market resilience in the capital and its desirable western suburbs in a real estate environment that is described as being off the boil?
Admittedly, the sociology of our clientele seeking to acquire Parisian real estate is not entirely representative of that of all buyers. Also, real estate in Paris may benefit more than elsewhere from its "safe haven" effect, and buyers in the capital are also, since repeated lockdowns, ready to spend a larger proportion of their assets on their residence.
But the structure itself of the Parisian real estate market, and particularly in the “bourgeois” neighbourhoods, is and will remain one in which demand shall always exceed existing stock, and with a potential demand that is out of all proportion to supply.
This imbalance also particularly affects the family segment; when an “ordinary” 120 to 150 sqm three-bed apartment is marketed, we always have several thousand buyers in our files who may be interested. Recently we were able to present a 116 sqm three-bed apartment in the Auteuil neighbourhood priced 1.485 million euro (see photos below) to 4161 existing potential buyers in our files.
In conclusion, although the Parisian market is perhaps not at its most active and may well be faced with a certain wait-and-see attitude from a segment of its clientele, it ultimately remains relatively fluid because it remains a very healthy market.
On the other hand, we note that owing to the rental market’s legislative, regulatory and tax environment, investment acquisitions remain at a standstill.
In another field, we launched a year ago a department specialising in bare ownership sales for a clientele who wish to stay at home during the autumn of their years while, depending on their age, receiving capital representing up to 75% of the value of their residence. We have very active investors seeking to purchase bare ownerships, and this activity has taken on staggering proportions in just twelve months. It has in fact been quite an eyeopener to see how this formula solves so many family problems including, amongst others, transmission to children or grandchildren.
Why didn't we think of it sooner?
To conclude, as a sign that the market is far from moribund, our recently opened rue du Bac, rue de Turenne and Saint-Germain-en-Laye agencies have all got off to a flying start!
Président, Daniel Féau & Belles demeures de France
Directrice des opérations, Daniel Féau & Belles demeures de France
*Ultra High Net Worth Individuals, with a non-residential wealth in excess of $30 million.