Strangely absent from public discourse in recent years, will housing, the main item of household expenditure, finally become a national priority? The postponement by the government of the announcements scheduled for Tuesday, May 9, officially for scheduling problems, has caused confusion among professionals.
It was for Olivier Klein, the Minister Delegate for Housing, to present around twenty proposals drawn from the work of the National Council for Refoundation (CNR), which had been set up in a hurry in November at the urgent request industry professionals. The latter were surprised that no reflection on housing had been launched by the public authorities.
4.1 million poorly housed people
“I hope it’s only a question of the calendar and not of budgetary arbitrations which have not yet been decided, but I am worried”, affirms Christophe Robert, the general delegate of the Abbé-Pierre Foundation. , who co-chaired the CNR with Véronique Bédague, CEO of the Nexity group, one of the largest French real estate operators. “More than 200 people worked for five months and established around a hundred recommendations. I cannot imagine that this does not lead to important decisions with means put on the table. It’s urgent. »
The panorama is, indeed, very dark. France has 4.1 million poorly housed people and twice as many homeless people in ten years. In tense areas, young and old are finding it increasingly difficult to find a roof, often reserved for tourist platforms. Construction is in free fall and the rise in interest rates, which have increased almost three and a half times in the space of two years, is excluding a growing number of households from the market.
All the signals are red, and the trend is rather to the degradation. In the new, sales fell by nearly 25% last year with both a continued decline in building permits issued and a collapse in reservations. Over one year, the production of mortgage loans has thus fallen by 40%, according to the Banque de France.
The old, a still attractive market
“Many customers are forced to abandon their project because their loan request has been refused by the bank”, underlines Olivier Salleron, the president of the French Building Federation (FFB), for whom “100,000 jobs could be threatened in construction” this year.
In the former, the market is still very active, but the first signs of a slowdown are appearing, with longer lead times, tighter negotiations and lower prices. Here too, the strengthening of financial conditions is a game-changer. Added to this is the tightening of the regulations around thermal sieves with the gradual ban on the rental of the most poorly insulated housing, which risks removing many properties from the market.
In an attempt to reverse the trend, the government is working on several measures. Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has already outlined some of them, presenting her new roadmap on Wednesday April 26. The zero-rate loan (PTZ) system, supposed to end at the end of 2023, should therefore be extended for at least one or two years. But in order not to inflame the budget bill, it could be refocused on new real estate, in the most tense areas and for very modest households. “This risks limiting its scope a lot,” predicts Henry Buzy-Cazaux, president of the Institute for the management of real estate services, who participated in the work of the CNR.
Additional financial allocations for builder mayors?
The Prime Minister also announced the strengthening of MaPrimeRénov’, which concentrates all aid for the energy renovation of buildings. The government is also working on a plan for the acquisition of new housing by the Caisse des dépôts, in order to support developers whose operations are blocked.
But that will not be enough. Several avenues were put forward during the CNR, such as a new system encouraging households to invest in housing in order to rent it. With the creation of a private lessor status, a long-standing claim of professional organisations, a landlord could gradually deduct the investment from his property income, the depreciation being greater if the rent charged is low.
The capping of land prices in certain cities was also mentioned a lot. This is one of the causes of the significant increase in construction costs, already strongly impacted by the surge in the price of materials and the new environmental regulations (RE 2020). Owners could also benefit from a tax incentive if they free up land, whereas today it is the opposite: the longer they keep land, the less they are taxed on the capital gain realized.
Local elected officials and professionals are also pushing for an additional financial allocation to be granted to builder mayors, who are fewer and fewer in number. “The last municipal elections have shown that the candidate who promises not to build has a better chance of being elected or re-elected,” said Pascal Boulanger, president of the Federation of Real Estate Developers (FPI).
“We need to build housing but also factories”
Other measures are more radical, such as the establishment in certain areas of a minimum density for new constructions, in order to limit urban sprawl. Clearly, pushing municipalities to reconnect in some cases with high-rise buildings, a very sensitive subject.
“The problem is the proliferation of contradictory injunctions, warns liberal essayist and real estate specialist Robin Rivaton. It is said at the same time that it is necessary to create as few building surfaces as possible to limit the artificialization of the soil, not to densify the cities and despite everything to house people. But at some point, we will have to decide and decide to build more where the needs are great. In February 2022, just before the presidential election, he was the first to publish a note, explaining that housing risked being the next “social bomb”. A feeling shared since by more and more people.
Elisabeth Borne has thus just opened the door to an “adaptation” of the principle of “zero net artificialisation” (ZAN) by 2050, provided for in the Climate and Resilience Law of 2021. In March, senators already adopted a text to that effect and urge Members to do the same.
“The ZAN has become a totem that should not be touched, even if no one knows how it can be put in place. It was decided without any prior impact study, when we need to build housing but also factories, ”said Senator Jean-Baptiste Blanc (LR), rapporteur for the special commission which was set up. in place, recalling that the Association of Mayors of France has already lodged an appeal against certain points of the system.