Money and Real Estate in the Time of Coronavirus
Volume XVIII, Issue 14
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR MORTGAGE IN FRANCE
A special note from Financial Advisor, Brian Dunhill, Dunhill Financial: “With the rising US dollar, if you are thinking of paying a lump sum off your mortgage, the IRS could punish you for this. If due to currency movements the US dollar value of your foreign currency loan is less at the time of the lump sum repayment or loan refinancing than when you took out the loan initially, there will be a US dollar gain which is taxable on your US tax return. Call me before you pre-pay your mortgage or if you have questions regarding this.”
For more market information, contact Brian Dunhill: UK Phone: +44(0)7514 993556 or US Phone: +1-561-570-5640, email [email protected]
WEBINAR RE THE NEW RECOVERY REBATE
AARO, Monte Silver, and Bright! Tax invites you to a webinar on The Coronavirus Relief Act (CARES) and how Americans abroad can receive the monetary relief it offers:
This webinar with cover the Coronavirus Stimulus Act and how Americans abroad receive monetary relief from it. It will also discuss 2019 filing and payment extensions granted by the US Treasury/IRS. The webinar is intended for American citizens & Green Card holders living outside the U.S., and their U.S. tax professionals.
Presenters: Monte Silver, Silver & Co., U.S. tax attorney, and Katelynn Minott, Bright!Tax, Managing CPA and Partner
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Americas/Europe: 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm London, 6pm France/Germany, 7pm Israel
Registration is free. A recording of the webinar will be available to AARO members on the AARO tax-video portal. To become a member of AARO, complete this online form.
NOTE: Nothing in the webinar may be construed as legal, tax or accounting advice! AARO is not responsible for the content of the webinar.
REAL ESTATE IN ILE-DE-FRANCE AND CORONAVIRUS…A REPORT FROM THE PARIS CHAMBRE DE NOTAIRES
* Translation and editing of articles issued in French.
After a dynamic start to 2020 in the real estate market in Paris and Ile-de-France, the health crisis linked to COVID-19 constitutes an unprecedented shock for the market, the consequences of which are still unpredictable.
First observations on the situation in March 2020 and on the outlook by the Notaries of Greater Paris…
The indicators available to the Notaries of Greater Paris from November 2019 to January 2020 were consistent with previous years. They reflected the continued good performance of the real estate market, where many households have become homeowners this winter in an environment where demand has remained much stronger in the metropolitan area than supply.
In February 2020, where we had leading indicators, was a continuation of this. Thirty-nine thousand seven hundred fifty (39,750) resale homes were sold in Ile-de-France from November 2019 to January 2020, an increase of 5 percent compared to the same period last year. The activity was particularly strong compared to the average of the last 10 years (+ 14 percent) even if the volumes increased more for apartments located in Grande Couronne than in Paris, where the lack of available goods continued to penalize the market.
In this context, sale prices were still observed to accelerate sharply. Prices for older homes rose 4.1 percent in the region with even faster increases for apartments (6 percent year-over-year).
In Paris, the Notaires-INSEE index of resale apartments stood at €10,300 per square meter in January 2020, an increase of 7 percent in one year. The price of houses, the impact of which is more significant in the Grande Couronne, on the other hand, has remained stable, as has been observed for several years. The presale contracts for February 2020 allow us to predict that this movement will continue, or even worsened on reading the prices noted in the presale contracts.
The increase should thus have been established in May 2020 at 8 percent in one year in Paris, 6 percent on the Petite as on the Grande Couronne, and 3 to 4 percent for the houses. However, the health crisis the country is going through will cause an unprecedented shock on the real estate markets.
The market for real estate transactions and sales will freeze for the most part, insofar as the containment measures which have been gradually put in place and which will last at least until the end of April will have a severe impact on the real estate acquisition.
The completion of a sale requires the intervention of many players, requires the presence of numerous certificates, and leads to carrying out procedures that will inevitably be delayed. This, even if notaries, like other real estate professionals, and state or local government public services, ensure continuity of service, can only be partial.
Beyond organizational constraints, real estate relies on trust. The notaries of Greater Paris have been able to observe for several years a very strong demand for access to real estate despite the increasingly high prices. They believe that this structural trend will not be interrupted in the long term. The need for secure housing, the attractiveness of a real asset is increasingly felt, but they are linked to the possibility of financing such an acquisition. The very low-interest rates observed for several years on the financial market will certainly continue in the coming months. We continue to hope that support for the banking sector will remain comprehensive.
If the need for household security implies access to homeownership, if the interest of investors will persist, their possibility of realizing such an investment will be naturally influenced by the violence of the current crisis, its health impact, but also its economic effects, notably on employment and purchasing power. The duration of the current crisis and the evolution of household confidence are today completely unpredictable.
Several scenarios are possible, both on the evolution of transaction volumes and prices, which may take into account the consequences on real estate of the previous crises. Gulf War of 1991, Internet Bubble of 2000, stock market crash of 2008, the crisis of the area euro in 2012, etc.). However, the completely new nature of the current health crisis makes interpretations and extrapolations very difficult today.
MORE NEWS FROM THE NOTAIRES
* Translation and editing of articles issued in French.
Since the official start of confinement, and to fight the COVID-19 epidemic, notarial offices and notarial bodies have been closed to the public. Notaries are however reachable remotely by phone or email.
All professional bodies, including the Chambers of Departmental Notaries of Ile-de-France, have given similar instructions: in principle notary offices no longer receive the public except in exceptional cases. In this, they are physically closed.
However, the operation of notarial studies and contact with customers remain ensured through remote work. This means the deployment of telework for notary offices, coupled with telephone or email reception. Notary offices, in fact, remain “virtually” open.
The regulatory instructions are clear and are based on the maximum limitation of the movement of people. As a result, all signatures that do not require travel or physical meetings can be maintained. Notaries are currently deploying solutions for signing authentic deeds at a distance.
For the other signatures, a distinction should be made: either they can be postponed and must be done, or they cannot, and each notary must assess whether the displacement of clients is justified by a “compelling family reason” as indicates the decree of March 14th and if the possible physical presence can respect the imperative sanitary measures.
In the overwhelming majority, the signatures can be deferred and the notaries work with their clients and at their request for extensions for the current contracts.
In all cases where a remote signature is envisaged, the solutions go through proxies signed by remote clients. But, everyone must understand that the act drawn up by a notary, the authentic act, derives its strength from the very great legal certainty which it confers. This legal certainty does not tolerate controlled solutions.
The notaries are there to guarantee that the notariat in connection with the Ministry of Justice is currently working on a temporary solution called “remote appearance” which respects the requirements of authenticity while ensuring greater flexibility in the relationship with clients. This new tool requires IT installations with high levels of security which are being deployed within the offices of notaries in France.
Regarding real estate sales, you should know that the notarial profession is dependent, in the exercise of its mission, on the availability of partners and public services also impacted by the crisis, especially for the issuance of loans by banks, organizing the move, issuing administrative documents, etc.
All acts that cannot be signed remotely are those that require the physical presence of clients or the signing of an authentic power of attorneys, such as gifts, marriage contracts, mortgages, and off-plan property sales.
Throughout the duration of the health crisis, all the means of information put in place by the notarial profession remain accessible. All information on the course of a real estate sale, the course of an estate, the drafting of a will, the marriage, the PACS…are accessible via news, publications, videos of the Notaries of Greater Paris, on the website.
Every day from 9.30 am to 1 pm, “Notaires Infos,” the telephone information center for notaries in France, answers questions from individuals on legal questions. An interactive terminal allows you to quickly access the information you are looking for or to obtain a consultation by telephone.
Direct telephone number: +33 8 92 01 10 12 (0.40 euro/min.)
THE BOTTOM LINE
If you are in the midst of a transaction, expect the delay to coincide with the confinement period or longer. Property transactions are highly unlikely to take place in any normalcy whatsoever, however, everyone in the industry is making an effort to keep it moving! Buyers and sellers have no choice but to have patience at this time of uncertainty.
Adrian Leeds Group
P.S. For those of you sheltering-at-home (by order or not) and dreaming of a move to France, or even a property purchase, this can be a good time to prepare for and work toward that dream. I’m at home, too, and happy to connect with you on Skype or by phone. As a special offering during this time of self-quarantining and anxiety over our futures, economic or otherwise I am offering special one-hour consultations at the reduced price of 150€ (normally a two-hour minimum for 350€) during our mandatory lockdown. We can talk about a strategy to change and enrich your life by living or investing here. To schedule your time, contact me now!