Is the announced price drop good news for the French?

The stabilization of real estate prices is making itself felt more and more on the market, after months of increases. In November, the national barometer of Best Agents headlined “the fall in prices is taking hold in the big cities”, noting a stagnation in property values ​​in seven of the ten largest cities in France. A slowdown that leads to an inexorable drop in prices according to several networks of real estate agencies. Yann Jéhanno, president of the Laforêt network, anticipates, for example, a drop in ” 1 to 2 % “ in 2023. The National Real Estate Federation (Fnaim) predicts a fall of 5%.

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“We are coming to a fairly clear decline in prices, which could last until next spring”, confirms Christopher Dembik, Head of Macroeconomic Research at Saxo Bank. “This drop can only be explained by a demand that is less and less solvent. A classic household that managed to borrow at 1.2% before the health crisis will now borrow up to almost 3%”, continues the economist. A situation that caused loss “15% purchasing power” since the rise in rates, adds Bernard Cadeau, former president of Orpi and market specialist.

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A fall in prices that is too slow compared to the rise in rates

Therefore, would a lowering of real estate prices make it possible to restore the purchasing capacity of future buyers? Bernard Cadeau answers in the negative: “If the decline was sudden and immediate, it could create a favorable draft for the increase in demand, but this will not be the case”. “The rise in rates automatically causes a fall in prices, but the rise [des taux] is too fast” compared to the fall in prices, estimates the economist Marc Touati in The Dispatch .

Beyond the borrowing rates which increase, it is above all the conditions of access to credit that prevent buyers from financing their purchase. In question, the rate of wear – this maximum rate at which it is possible to borrow -, which blocks many files, and the criteria of the banks more and more selective. “If you restrict borrowing capacity, in such a way that one out of two files is rejected, the purchasing capacity is no longer there”, analyzes Bernard Cadeau. “The personal contribution required is greater”, cites Christopher Dembik as an example. A situation that primarily concerns first-time buyers, with a lower purchasing capacity than the wealthiest.

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This fall in prices also does not encourage owners wishing to sell their property to sell immediately, having the impression of losing out compared to other owners who sold their homes when prices were at their highest. “It is primarily a psychological effect, because if the price drops when selling, it also drops when buying. However, if one sells, it is generally to buy something else behind”, continues Bernard Gift. He estimates that sellers take nearly six months to decide to sell their property once the fall in prices has begun. ” It’s serious, worries the expert. Real estate is a self-sustaining market: you buy a small apartment, resell it and buy a bigger one, and so on. » The slow decline in prices risks breaking this cycle.

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