Illustration of individual house - GILE Michel / SIPA

  • The Bordeaux notary thinks that Emmanuel Macron's announcements on Monday evening will allow the real estate market to restart within a fortnight.
  • We will have to catch up, but the crisis should only be a parenthesis.
  • This long period of confinement could even have consequences for the market for detached houses with gardens, which should be further researched.

While the real estate market is completely at a standstill, 20 Minutes questioned master Joël Moreau, notary in Bordeaux and in charge of the communication commission of the Gironde chamber of notaries, which represents more than 420 professionals. At this stage, the Bordeaux notary is not worried about the real estate market, and even plans a renewed interest in the house with garden.

Today, are notary offices still working, even if you are physically closed?

Of course, the notariat applies the health security guidelines for our employees and our customers, and we have closed our studies to the public. But we adapted very quickly, and we continue to fulfill our public service mission, thanks to telework. The notariat is equipped with technological tools, such as the digital signature or even videoconferencing, which allow us this availability. We first postponed the acts which could not take place under normal conditions, and we signed the most urgent acts by proxy and at a distance, and by videoconference. Finally, a new decree applicable since April 5, requested by the notariat, authorizes up to a month after the cessation of the state of health emergency, the signing of acts remotely. It allows the solicitor alone to sign the deed, provided that during the entire reading of the contract, he may have had his client by videoconference. This allows acts that were blocked, such as Vefa (Sale in the future state of completion) and acts with mortgage, to succeed.

What is the rate of notaries' equipment for this videoconferencing system, which is becoming a bit of a sinews for you?

This is exactly the sinews of war, and it is clearly the future. The rate is between 40 and 50% in Gironde. But we are pooling our connections, that is to say that a notary can lend his videoconference to a colleague. Mutual aid and mutualisation is the watchword at the moment.

Can new acts be signed?

Very little, because the real estate market is completely at a standstill. Our partners real estate agents can no longer carry out visits, or, a real estate, we must be able to visit it, feel it, we cannot be satisfied with a visit by video. On the other hand, requests for breach of contracts are almost nil. Ditto for the new and the purchase on plan, we do not see cancellation on the part of our customers: those who had reserved did not back down.

And precisely, practical case: is it possible to leave a contract during this particular period?

It is absolutely necessary to study these requests on a case by case basis, and call your notary. If the conditions of a conventional nature, that is to say obtaining the bank loan, are no longer met, at that time we are protected by the benefit of the suspensive condition. Be careful however if you want to withdraw because you consider that the current situation generates a change in your personal situation, and that it is a case of force majeure: withdrawing from a contract without valid reason can result in court high compensation to be paid by the buyer to the seller. Only a magistrate will have to consider whether or not a situation corresponds to a case of force majeure. It would be a risk, and it is absolutely necessary to turn to your notary before considering this type of decision. But currently we have almost no requests in this sense.

The announcements of Emmanuel Macron of Monday evening, do they predict a restart of the activity?

They have already had effects, since since Tuesday morning, my phone has not stopped ringing. The President's announcement of a gradual end to confinement from May 11 has had an extremely positive effect, and I am sure that within 15 days everything will restart. Very clearly, we will have had a period during which nothing will have happened, so we will have to catch up, but this should only be a parenthesis. This May 11 date is a relief for our fellow citizens and real estate professionals. What is important with this date is that the moves of individuals and professional transfers should take place and be organized, especially in Bordeaux Métropole which is a strong pool of employment, and which is also in chronic deficit of housing.

We can even wonder if there will not be an even stronger interest in the real estate sector after this crisis?

I cannot answer with certainty, but in all past crises, the real estate curves have never dropped, or so very temporarily. Real estate remains the best value.

So you have no particular concerns about the local market?

On the Girondin or even New Aquitaine market, I don't have one particularly. Our region continues to attract businesses, our population density remains low, and New Aquitaine remains relatively preserved to this day compared to the number of coronavirus contaminations. The CHU de Bordeaux is also the most efficient in France thanks to the quality of our caregivers. I very clearly think that our fellow citizens will look at the regions which have been the least affected by the epidemic, such as Brittany or New Aquitaine. We are moving towards what seems most reassuring to us.

And could there be a renewed interest in the individual house after this confinement?

It would seem logical… The detached house with garden will, probably, represent a source of research for our fellow citizens.

In addition, you are not only doing real estate: are there other acts, such as wills, on which you are seeing an increase in demand at the moment?

There are significant demands in terms of estate preparation and anticipation. We also had requests for a will, which we postpone over time because it is an act that we cannot do remotely. On the other hand, we advise clients who request a holograph will, which will then be entrusted to us in the original. There is no major concern, but our fellow citizens are reflecting on these subjects.


Coronavirus: May 11 is "another date to conquer", warns Christophe Castaner


Real estate in Bordeaux: No, prices are not falling but they have stopped racing

  • Containment
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