When property reflects our new lifestyles

Contrary to common belief, the distinction between primary and secondary residences has not disappeared with lockdown. It has been transformed. In these changing times, we are entering the age of the “semi-primary” residence. And this doesn't come from us, but directly from you, thanks to a BARNES survey of 1,850 clients in France and abroad between 26 and 30 November 2020 (*).

2020 has certainly reshuffled the deck in the property market, and the luxury sector in particular. Starting with second homes, which have regained in popularity among families who will be spending more time there each year in the future, for sure. Provided that the various generations can use them as a home office during their stays, of course. The months of lockdown imposed both in France and abroad also appears to have shed new light on the concept of having a semi-primary residence.

For our clients, this restructuring is expected to involve an increase in the amount of time spent each year at their second homes (89% of respondents), which they would be happy to transform into a semi-primary residence (72%)”, explains Saint Vincent Thibault, President of BARNES. “Furthermore, the idea of a base at which to host close friends and family is also popular, and there are very few who would consider spending another lockdown apart from their families”. A secondary home would thus have to enable them to accommodate children and grandchildren (82%), particularly where working from home is concerned. In fact, over a third individuals (36%) say they stayed together as a family in the same place during the lockdown.

Paris is no exception

The market has also adapted in Paris and its inner suburbs, with the concept of the semi-primary residence proving to be this year’s big hit: “We are seeing an increase in the number of clients looking for a change of lifestyle, particularly among those in the 40-60 age group”, explains Caroline Baudry, Managing Partner at BARNES Le Marais.

What about working from home? “All buyers are now looking for a space that will allow them to work from home”, explains Philip Picache, Director of BARNES Val-de-Marne. “At the same time, there has been a marked increase in the popularity of garden level apartments, whereas before the pandemic they were relatively difficult to sell”.

As far as prices are concerned, although it is still too early to draw any definitive conclusions, the various Paris BARNES offices are seeing a certain stability as we approach the end of 2020 since, despite a significant increase in supply, demand remains strong, especially for high-quality properties. In short, Paris will always be Paris, and that’s how it should be.

Meanwhile, digital technology is extending its reach

Another important finding from this survey, market digitalisation has risen in prominence yet also demonstrated its limits: while 71% of those surveyed were in favour of virtual viewings of properties offered for sale or rent, 86% were not prepared to make the decision to purchase a property based solely on this type of viewing. “Digitalisation is a real asset that saves time and allows us to create a shortlist when it’s impossible to travel but a physical visit is still an almost essential part of the purchasing process”, explains Thibault de Saint Vincent. As for the execution of the transaction itself, 78% were in favour of electronic signatures, a figure that would have been unimaginable just one year ago!

What the experts have to say…

  • Propriétés & Châteaux: a desire to create a family base

“We have noticed a distinct increase in searches for properties comprising several residential buildings as a result of the desire for intergenerational family homes with office space. Similarly, we are seeing the emergence of a new type of use as a second primary residence among clients who divide their time between France and other countries”.

Bertrand Couturié, Associate Director, BARNES Propriétés & Châteaux

  • Nantes: space for several generations

“Whether it’s Nantes, where demand for apartments with terraces and family homes has risen sharply, or La Baule, which is experiencing an increase in the demand for properties with land and a swimming pool, we are seeing a distinct increase in searches for family-friendly properties. That is to say holiday homes that can accommodate several generations or properties comprising several buildings to accommodate friends in addition to close family”.

Etienne de Gibon, Associate Director of BARNES Nantes-La Baule

  • Cannes: a lifestyle change

“In relation to previous years, we’ve seen more demand from people looking to change their lifestyle by moving their primary residence”.

Alexandra Andres, Director of BARNES Cannes

  • Portugal: spending lockdown together in comfortable conditions

“Houses that could accommodate the whole family and where they could comfortably spend lockdowns together were more sought-after than ever, and Cascais and Comporta were the areas that experienced the greatest demand in this respect. Searches for city-centre properties, meanwhile, focused on apartments with outdoor space and an additional bedroom that could be converted into a home office”.

Filipa Frey-Ramos, Associate Director of BARNES Portugal

  • Miami: the rush for outdoor spaces

“The search for properties with outdoor space has increased by over 900% in relation to 2019!”

Adam Redolfi, Associate Director of BARNES Miami

  • New York: live-and-work configurations

“In the short term, our clients are looking for outdoor space and above all large, spacious properties that will allow them to create live-and-work configurations in quiet, green, residential neighbourhoods”.

Yann Rousseau, Associate Director of BARNES New York


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(*) Download the survey and its results free of charge:







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