Why homebuyers are raiding villas on the French Riviera – The Hollywood Reporter


Frederic Barth, a Cannes-based agent at Sotheby’s International Realty, says he recently sold a home to a buyer who viewed the property only via WhatsApp due to COVID-19 restrictions on international travel. “It is a French national, living in the United States for 15 years, who bought 5 million [euro] villa in St Tropez invisible view. We have never seen this in the past, ”says Barth, who adds:“ We had another Danish buyer who bought a [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 homes in France, “People are sitting at home going crazy, surfing the web like crazy . ” Over the past year, Leeds, a frequent guest on HGTV House Hunters International, sold a duplex in Nice for 1.6 million euros and a nearby castle for 7 million euros to buyers who had not set foot there. “We have clients who have bought a property, had it renovated and still have never seen it,” says Leeds.

In the village of Mougins, a 15-minute drive from Cannes, this four-bedroom house includes a home gym and hammam. It is listed at Côte d’Azur Sotheby’s International Realty for approximately $ 11.8 million.
Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty

Now, as travel restrictions relax and most lockdowns are lifted in France, real estate professionals believe U.S. buyers will begin to return in person to the region this summer (where famous residents include Elton John and Tina Turner). Over the past year, Barth says, “customers from the United States and customers from Russia and the Middle East have disappeared.” His in-person clientele during the pandemic were mostly buyers from the EU, as well as a much larger proportion of French residents “because they don’t want to be stuck in big cities.”

Barth describes the general state of the market on the Côte d’Azur as “constant and fairly stable” over the past three or four years, having recovered after the economic crisis of 2008. “It is not a booming market. as we had before 2008, [when we had] Russian buyers who were buying almost everything at crazy prices, ”he says.

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The entrance staircase inside Chateau Le Broc, located in the hills behind Nice. Dating back to the 17th century, it is listed with Knight Frank for around $ 8.23 ​​million.
Courtesy of Knight Frank

For those not looking to buy, private home rental company Onefinestay – known for its approved collection of premium offerings (including free janitorial and housekeeping services) – has launched in the region. Guests spend an average of $ 90,000 per booking on its properties on the French Riviera, which include the nine-bedroom Villa Valbonne (about 10 miles north of Cannes), where John F. Kennedy vacationed as a that boy.

Onefinestay sees two trends related to the pandemic with its rentals. Customers stay longer (in part because of the additional hurdles to overcome when traveling abroad) and seek “more privatized services,” says director of concierge services Michele Bayens. “They want chefs in the villa. They want helicopter transfers and private yacht rentals – things that will really enhance their experiences and maintain social distancing. During Cannes, the company expects a rise in power, especially for customers who wish to organize their own gatherings. “One of the fun things is having an intimate garden party and watching a movie,” Bayens explains. “We can set up a movie screen for you and organize that with a picnic. “

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An outdoor terrace at Villa Grand in Saint-Tropez (about 85 km southwest of Cannes), which is an 11-bedroom Onefinestay property; from $ 14,245 per night, one week minimum, onefinestay.com.
Jean-Michael Guy / Onefinestay

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The swimming pool at Villa Lansa, a nine-bedroom Onefinestay property just outside Cannes; starting at $ 5,119 per night, two week minimum.
Courtesy of Onefinestay

This story first appeared in the June 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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