"THE REAL ESTATE MARKET IN THIS "WORLD CITY" IS INCOMPARABLE TO OTHER MARKETS, AND OBEYS ITS OWN RULES.
“Everyone has been saying for years that prices and volumes are going up, and I’m a bit embarrassed to labour the point. So today... I'm going to announce a massive real estate crash.” This is how Charles-Marie Jottras, president of the Daniel Féau group, began his annual conference on the market trend. He was, of course, poking fun at the gloom mongers who, over the past two or three years, have been predicting a crisis on the pretext that the market is doing very well – too well? - and in Paris in particular. He wanted to make it clear that real estate trends do not follow a simple price/disposable income ratio for French buyers and sellers.
"Paris is a world city, in the same way as London, New York or Singapore ... it's a singular market," confirms Stéphane Adler, vice-president of the Chambre des Notaires. "A crisis in 2020? You must be kidding” says Nathalie Garcin, CEO of the Emile Garcin group. "There is no housing bubble! Paris is expensive because demand is high and supply is very limited. However I don’t think that prices will continue to rise as quickly as in recent years."
Daniel Féau, one of the leading Parisian luxury real estate specialists, chose to entitle its conference "Is the rise in prices artificial?" Prices have more than quadrupled in twenty years and this despite two slumps: one, fleetingly, in 2008-09 and the second over a longer period from 2011 to 2016. Not forgetting a major crisis between 1991 and 1998, which hit Paris harder than elsewhere (according to the Insee-Notaires price index, the drop was 30% on average).
Another significant point: the Parisian luxury market, with spectacular records at around 40,000 euro/sqm, is a micro-market: around 3,000 sales per year for apartments at prices in excess of 1 million euro (or 8% of transactions), of which 500 are at prices above 2 million euro. Prices at the top of the range are mind-boggling: 13,474 euro/sqm, an annual increase of 7.5% in the 1.5 to 3 million euro segment, and 18,423 euro/sqm (+ 3, 6%) for sales at prices exceeding 3 million euro, according to data from the Féau network. As Thierry Delesalle, a notary in Paris, points out "Today only a couple of senior executives can realistically envisage an acquisition in the capital and, even then, often on the condition that they sell an asset in order to buy."
A STRUCTURALLY PARALYSED SUPPLY
"At the top end of the market, sales are at between 20,000 and 30,000 euro/sqm" observes Nathalie Garcin. A faultless apartment in a prime location is very rare, keenly sought-after and as a result very expensive. "Paris is crazy... that’s what we hear when we see prices like this when compared to the level of income" says Charles-Marie Jottras, who goes on to add: "I’ve been hearing the same refrain for the past fifteen years!"
The number of sales per year in Paris is more or less invariable, remaining within a range of 33,000 to 35,000 for the past twenty years, while demand continues to increase. "The offer is structurally paralysed in Paris, much more so than in other global cities," says the Féau CEO. It’s no wild guess to imagine that prices can only increase, especially since Paris is increasingly becoming the world’s premium tourist destination as well as being the hub for economic decision-making in France. Also, as Stéphane Adler points out, "Brexit has led to many French expats leaving London over the past two years. They have a strong purchasing power in and around the 2 million euro sales segment."
"By far the most flagrant imbalance between supply and demand is in the market for the 3-bed family apartment offering about 130 to 150 sqm of living space" observes Charles-Marie Jottras. "You won't find them in the ads, for they are snapped up right away." He goes on to say "For each apartment of this type that we get in our portfolio, we have over 4,000 potential buyers!" He estimates at around 40% the quantity of apartments sold this year by the Féau agencies that were sold directly, without any web advertising. However, he continues, "the Greater Paris project will, no doubt, relieve some of the pressure in the 750,000 to1.5 million euro price range."
For the year 2020, all specialists agree that the market shall remain unbalanced in Paris "which does not exclude inevitable fluctuations. But in the long term, I remain very confident about the trend, and that there is no housing bubble" the Féau CEO concludes, more than satisfied with the turnover of his network of agencies in Paris which has increased by 440% in twenty years. The story is the same at the Paris Chambre des of Notaires with Stéphane Adler, its vice-president, saying that "the market is neither artificial nor speculative as it was in 1990-91. There is essentially a shortage of supply in the market; it is as simple as that."