No Tour, No Problem! Why Home Buyers Are Scooping Up Villas Sight Unseen in the French Riviera
Frederic Barth, a Cannes-based agent for Sotheby’s International Realty, says he recently sold a home to a buyer who viewed the property only through WhatsApp due to COVID-19 restrictions on international travel. “You are a French citizen, living in the United States for the past 15 years, who bought a [euro] villa in St. Tropez invisible view. We’ve never seen that in the past, “says Barth, who adds:” We had another buyer from Denmark who bought 2 million [euro] villa near Cannes in exactly the same way. ”
Echoes Adrian Leeds, a Paris-based real estate consultant who specializes in helping North American clients buy houses in France, “People are sitting at home going crazy, surfing the web like crazy.” Last year, Leeds, a frequent guest on HGTV House Hunters International, has sold a duplex in Nice for 1.6 million euros and a castle in the area for 7 million euros to buyers who had not set foot in them. “We have clients who have bought properties, renovated them and haven’t seen them yet,” says Leeds.
Now, as travel restrictions are loosened and most of the lockdown measures in France are lifted, real estate professionals believe that American buyers will begin to return in person this summer to the area (where famous residents include Elton John and Tina Turner). Last year, says Barth, “there was a lack of customers from the US, Russia and the Middle East.” His in-person clientele during the pandemic consisted mainly of buyers from the EU, as well as a much larger proportion of French residents “because they don’t want to get stuck in the big cities.”
Barth characterizes the general state of the market in the French Riviera as “constant and fairly stable” for the last three or four years, having worked his way back after the economic crisis of 2008. “It is not a booming market as we used to. have before 2008, [when we had] Russian buyers who were buying almost everything at crazy prices, ”he says.
For those not looking to buy, private home rental company Onefinestay, known for its vetted collection of high-end offerings (which come with complimentary janitorial and cleaning services), launched in the area. Clients spend $ 90,000 on average per booking at their French Riviera properties, which include the nine-bedroom Villa Valbonne (about 10 miles north of Cannes), where John F. Kennedy enjoyed vacations as a child.
Onefinestay is seeing two trends related to the pandemic with its rentals. Guests stay longer (in part due to additional hurdles to overcome in international travel) and seek “more privatized services,” says director of concierge services, Michele Bayens. “They want chefs in the village. They want helicopter transfers and private yacht charters, things that will really enhance their experiences and maintain social distancing. “During Cannes, the company expects an increase in business, especially for clients who want to host their own meetings.” One of the The fun stuff is throwing an intimate garden party and watching movies, “says Bayens.” We can set up a movie screen for you and have a picnic.
This story first appeared in the June 30 issue of Newzpanda magazine. Click here for subscribe.