Property for Sale? No! En Vacances!
Picture it: You’re on vacation in France and you’ve got the itch to either buy a property or move here. Right?
It happens to just about everyone, especially “Francophiles” who are returning to France because they became smitten with the country…just like I did in 1979 when I first set foot in Paris. I even did just that at the time—within two days, I started perusing the International Herald Tribune (now the New York Times) for ads for rental apartments wanting to move right in. Even though we were traveling across Europe for two months, headed to seven different countries, I didn’t want to go any further once we landed in Paris. I felt at home and that was that. It wasn’t until 15 years later that we actually made the move, but that was after having visited France dozens of times and knowing for sure it was right for us.
It was August 1979 when we first landed in the city, but unexpectedly cold and rainy in Paris. It didn’t dawn on me that the Parisians had all fled for the countryside or the beaches and the city was filled with tourists from other countries…like us. If we had really wanted to look at properties, what would we have done? Would we have been successful?
Not likely. From July 14th (Bastille Day) and through all of August, the French are on vacation. They have five weeks a year of paid vacation and many of them take the entire chunk in the summer. Offices close. Restaurants close. Bakeries close. So, here you are, vacationing in France yourself, feeling hot and bothered to find a place to buy or rent, and everyone is gone leaving you stranded.
That’s just the way it is, but it’s hard to understand how businesses can just shut down like that. We Americans wouldn’t dream of such a thing, would we? We’d make sure that employees’ vacations were staggered so there was always someone running the store. We’d never want to lose making more money for something as frivolous as vacation, would we?
But, this is one reason you love France so much, isn’t it? The fact that the French have put their lifestyles ahead of their revenues is one thing that makes this place so attractive! Money isn’t what their lives are about, and that’s very appealing to an American who sees how “the bottom line” has gotten in the way of their pleasures…or even their rights (such as universal healthcare!). (Did you know that there is no expression in French for “the bottom line?” In France, there is no bottom line!)
This summer, more than any other, we are overwhelmed with North Americans wanting to take advantage of the strong dollar (dollar to euro is close to parity), or considering changing their lives for the better by moving to France’s socialist democratic system, where abortion is legal, but capital punishment is not. It’s their time to travel and they want immediate self-satisfaction by finding that property to purchase or rent.
But, they have come at the worst time of year to accomplish it, so it’s challenging to say the least! Owners are gone, so there are fewer properties on the market. Agents are on vacation and agencies are closed. The Notaires close for at least two weeks or more, so no transactions are even possible. Construction workers have hung up their hammers and saws until September so renovations are on hold. Deliveries are delayed. You name it…it isn’t happening, hard as you might try or want.
The point is that you can’t do anything about it, but accept it. And then plan your project for a time when you can really get things accomplished. Life goes back to normal during “La Rentrée”—at the beginning of September and it stays steady until the Christmas Holidays. That’s a time to let go of the project, too—while everyone is enjoying time with their families, partying, skiing in the French Alps, or whatever. Otherwise, there is no “season” for real estate, like there is in North America…it’s steady all year long except for July 14th through August 31st and December 15th through December 31st.
There is one caveat. Properties on the market in August are normally offered by sellers who really want to sell quickly, and that could mean a bargain. For example, we are offering a Two-Bedroom Pied-à-Terre with balcony and elevator with a price reduced to sell quickly—€735,000. The owners are prepared to sell at a bargain, so this is your chance to take advantage of such a low price.
Meanwhile, mark your calendars to travel to France outside of those two vacation periods, and then you can satisfy your desire to buy or rent property to your heart’s desire! Or just accept the fact that the pickin’s will be slim and you might not get much accomplished…and go to the beach instead!
A la prochaine…
The Adrian Leeds Group®
P.S. Considering a property purchase in France? Don’t do it lightly—and not at the wrong time of the year. Let us help you make the smartest decisions to ensure you make the best investment you can. We can also expertly advise you how best to create a profitable rental. Contact us to learn more.