At least one in four Paris apartments listed by realtor Agence Etoile can’t be sold, even with mortgage rates at record lows, as buyers and sellers fail to agree on price, the company’s director said.
“I have some inventory that’s too expensive and sellers don’t want to lower prices,” Christine Perrissel said in an interview. “Buyers are just much more selective.”
Across France, an economy that’s stalled for two years, joblessness at a 15-year high, property prices near record highs and new taxes have made households reluctant to borrow to buy homes. While Europe’s debt crisis prompted banks to tighten credit, since the start of this year they’ve offered more attractive terms to lure customers and meet lending targets, after borrowing plunged in 2012.
The average home-loan rate fell 0.8 percentage point from a year ago to a record low 3.34 percent in the first two months of the year. Still, new mortgages granted in the 12 months through February slid 27 percent from a year earlier to 98.4 billion euros ($129 billion), according to the Bank of France.
New home sales plunged 18 percent in 2012 to 77,900. Existing home sales declined 12 percent to 709,000, with the drop worsening to 22 percent in the year to February. The average housing investment funded with loans represented 3.73 years of the buyer’s income in March, the lowest since January 2010, a study by lender Credit Logement SA and polling firm CSA shows.