After a year of Covid-19, how have the real estate expectations of the French changed?

Containment out of time?

Whether we live in a house or an apartment, the Covid-19 crisis will have made us rediscover our living spaces, reassess our needs and question ourselves about our real estate expectations. Buy bigger? Go to the countryside? Telework from home? After a year of crisis, here is what (really!) Future buyers want …

Future buyers want to move away from big cities

It was one of the most anticipated consequences of successive confinements. We suspected that would happen. We now have proof: the French want a change of scenery! Indeed, according to a SeLoger study, almost half of buyers (48%) direct their real estate search towards an agglomeration of less than 20,000 inhabitants while for comparison, they were only 16% in May 2020 (i.e. an increase of +32 points in a few months) !

In detail, among these 48% of prospective buyers attracted by these cities of less than 20,000 inhabitants, they are now 33% to target a small town (from 2,000 to 20,000 inhabitants), against 12% last May. But this desire to move away from large cities also boosts research in rural areas (less than 2,000 inhabitants) attracting nearly 15% of future buyers, whereas they were only 4% last May. More than ever, the French therefore seem ready to change their living environment! That’s good, the rich territorial network from which France benefits allows them!

This revenge for quieter areas was made possible by a very sharp drop in the attractiveness of Paris (4% purchase intentions in February 2021, i.e. a drop of -20 points vs. May 2020) and large cities ( from 60,000 to less than 100,000 inhabitants: 9%, down -6 points) but also a serious decline in interest in medium-sized towns (from 20,000 to 60,000 inhabitants: 19%, -9 points).

Even if teleworkers are more attracted to urban areas, it is clear that the experience of distance makes them think: 27% of them now see the geographical location of their future very differently (more in the countryside for example, outside large cities). The SeLoger study shows that 1 future buyer of a main residence in 4 who wish to leave Ile-de-France intends to settle in rural areas (i.e. 25% vs. 2% of those who intend to stay there) and 39% target a city of less than 20,000 inhabitants (vs. 19 %).

Île-de-France attracts less and less

The desires of fresh air and greenery of future buyers echo a disenchantment for metropolises. This is evidenced by the Paris region, which is losing its attractiveness. Indeed, whatever their region of origin, 8% less potential buyers than 1 year ago are looking for accommodation in Île-de-France via our real estate ad sites, even though searches are increasing in all other regions.

Ile-de-France residents also seem less chauvinistic than before the crisis. According to the perception study carried out by SeLoger last February, 75% of real estate project leaders residing in Île-de-France were looking to buy in their region in February 2021, compared to 86% in February 2020.

The deserters are turning in particular to the Center-Val-de-Loire, Normandy and Burgundy-Franche-Comté regions and this is also the Normandie which is at the top of global research in 2020, making it the most attractive region in France this year.

The French are looking for houses with a good internet connection

We now know where the French want to settle (outside metropolitan areas, in medium-sized towns, in the northwest of the country …), but what type of goods are they looking to buy? Another predictable effect of confinement: the presence of an exterior (balcony, terrace, garden) has become a key criterion in the eyes of buyers. This is reflected in their research, in which the houses are now the majority! On our sites, 53% of buyers are looking for homes, compared to just 46% in 2019. The trivialization of teleworking is helping to reinforce this trend. When you work from home, you want to be able to ventilate! It is therefore not surprising that the search for an outside person is preponderant among teleworkers. In fact, 35% of them make it a more important criterion than before the crisis, against 28% of those with a purchase project who have not experimented with teleworking.

In addition, 54% of buyers say they now pay special attention to the quality of the Internet connection in the search for their future property.

The telework experience is shaping new expectations, particularly with regard to the quality of the internet connection in housing. 54% of future buyers say they are vigilant about internet access or the presence of optical fiber in their future property. As an indication, 38% of French people are connected to the Internet via optical fiber. The issue of internet coverage is becoming even more of an issue for these cities of less than 20,000 inhabitants which attract but which are not always connected, underlines Séverine Amate.

But that’s not all. The expectation of a room dedicated to teleworking is also felt. 32% of teleworkers with a purchase plan consider purchasing a home with a larger surface area and having a closed room, compared to 23% in May 2020.

Finally, if they are still attracted by urban areas, 27% of teleworkers questioned now plan to relocate their real estate search.

Are we witnessing the beginnings of a post-Covid urban exodus? It is still too early to say it, but one thing is for sure immedibly speaking (expectations, desires, research…), there is indeed a “before” and an “after” Covid!

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