Following the first round of the French presidential elections, which saw current president Emmanuel Macron and controversial Eurosceptic Marine Le Pen advance to the second round (which takes place on April 24), Tim Swannie from luxury buying agent Home Hunts sets out how the potential outcomes could affect the property market across the Channel – which is a popular location for second home investors from the UK year in, year out.
How could a new president affect the market if Macron doesn’t get re-elected?
A new presidency would cause a slowdown for a while. People tend to wait when there is a big change in leadership, because they want to see if any major changes to tax or policies, etc, are announced.
The only real competition that Macron has is Marine Le Pen, she has obviously been famously right wing in the past but has had to become way more central with her views and plans over the past few years to keep up support. It would be unlikely that there would be lots of sweeping changes, but as I say, many people may hang back for a few weeks/months before buying or selling, just to see what happens in the ivory tower.
How different is the market in 2022 compared to 2017?
The market is very different now compared to 2017. It’s the busiest we have seen it in 18 years – 2017 was record-breaking for sales, and we’re expecting this year to be the same. It is very much a sellers’ market, because there is a lack of properties currently available in the most popular areas, so good properties often sell in days.
French and EU-based clients have been the biggest buyers over the past couple of years, but now that travel has fully reopened there is a new wave of buyers from the UK and elsewhere outside Europe.
Do your clients mention the elections/ask about its potential outcomes?
Our French clients do, but less so the non-French clients. Some of them ask whether we think Le Pen has a chance, but we feel it is very unlikely.
What were the overall trends during Macron’s tenure?
Macron is very pro-business and pro-Europe, so he has tried to make some big changes to simplify some of the complicated systems in France and ensure that it remains an attractive country for overseas investment.
Many French laws go back to Napoleonic times, so he has tried to streamline some of these rules. He has reduced unemployment and is slowly reducing taxes for most, which is getting him a lot of support. He does have some policies that are fairly controversial, however, such as changing retirement age from 62 to 65 in France, and things like the yellow vest movement being the biggest thorn in his side.