“Real estate is not an Eldorado where anything is possible! (Loïc Cantin, president of the FNAIM)

LA TRIBUNE – Why did you decide to run for president of FNAIM?

LOIC CELLAR – I have been a member of Fnaim since 1980, a trade unionist involved in this federation, since then I have held various departmental, regional and national functions, occupying the position of vice president for 4 years. I had already been nominated in 2012. At the time, I didn’t find a response in the dynamics involved. I wasn’t elected. Ten years later, I wanted to print a new vision, a new dynamic… on housing policy and the defense of the profession, which risk entering an area of ​​serious turbulence, where we will have to be imaginative, force of proposals, to support companies and respond to the residential path of the French. The period will be complicated, at all levels…

You say that your mandate will be severely affected by international, climatic, energy renewal news… what will be your priorities and what challenges do you intend to meet?

Today all indicators are red. Whether internationally or economically, with inflation, rising interest rates, declining purchasing power… In this context, we will have to respond to the regulatory urgency of the Climate and Resilience Law which will have an impact on French real estate as a whole . In France, landlords are confronted with the climate emergency and are forced to undertake energy renovations if they intend to keep their apartment or rental accommodation for all those classified G and F in 2023 and 2025. The timetable will have to be adequate because 2025 is tomorrow. We have two years to achieve this. Not enough time, and I fear we are seeing some of the rental stock evaporate, with some landlords withdrawing who wish to sell in such a short time. It is believed that the renovation of an apartment represents 40,000 euros. However, French people who own their own homes don’t necessarily have the necessary financial standing. Most of the owners are smallholders with low incomes. When a market is already tight in terms of rental offers, you shouldn’t add another layer of tension. So, politically, it is necessary to ensure that this calendar is postponed or changed.

What do you propose ?

That we can provide security and visibility to reassure owners in the future. This may also involve incentive, legislative or financial measures. I propose a simple expedient which would consist in starting work now and detaxing tomorrow, upon retirement. Why this moment? because it is often a period of concern for the French. That is to say, invest in renovation at 55 and when you retire at 62, the rents you receive will not be taxed. The interest is to create an important movement on energy redevelopment. I propose a simple, legible measure, with deferred support from the State, which will allow for an important movement to be triggered. To give visibility to investors, where people are losing faith in real estate investments. In any case, for us, it will be an emergency because energy requalification is a problem that concerns both transaction agents interested in the green value of a house, property managers to arbitrate the assets for which they are responsible, and trustees of co-ownership that will have to initiate collective decisions.

How can you mitigate rising interest rates in the real estate market?

The increase in interest rates, which is nothing more than a reduction in purchasing power, worries us a lot. What I proposed during my campaign was to allow outstanding loans to be transferred. A few years ago, bank loans were transferable to a buyer. This option existed in bank loan agreements. Why not imagine that a seller who decides to sell his property can keep this loan for another acquisition. The banker is not deprived of the expected return. He calculates the risk and accompanies his client in this new acquisition and does not affect his purchasing power. If he does not plan to make a new purchase, he also has the option of transferring the same conditions to his buyer. This measure could support the purchasing power of households in the current context. It is a simple matter of political courage. We must legislate to oblige banking institutions to guarantee the portability of the loans taken out and to keep them with the current owner or buyer. Naturally subject to loan eligibility, depending on family income. It is a small, simple political measure, which costs nothing, but which is important in the current situation of half-mast household purchasing power, faced with inflation and membership, and which can have a nice echo .

What solutions do you imagine to support the market for new homes, where construction volumes have dropped by -27%?

In 2021 we experienced the most dynamic moment in the history of real estate with 1.2 million contracted transactions. 2022 will still be a strong year with high volumes, but we are likely to experience much lower trading volumes going forward. For the record, in 2008 we were at 580,000 sales a year. The French have experienced a steady rise in prices since 1998, favored and made possible by falling interest rates. Unfortunately it is to be feared that the coming periods may be accompanied by an increase in interest rates and prices which will no longer be oriented upwards at all, at least not in the same proportions as we have known, all this is likely to cause difficulties families, to access the property and resell it. If it is difficult to predict, it is also difficult not to predict… This is why I made a proposal relating to the tax exemption system (Pinel…) which is usually aimed at investors who already own their own home and benefit from a significant reduction tax since, when you invest 300,000 euros in a rental apartment, you are entitled to a maximum of 21% tax reduction, or 63,000 euros! In other words, you pay 237,000 euros for your apartment. However, a young couple who want to buy their own apartment to live in alone will pay €300,000. In a complicated period where rental investment is less sought after by the French, where developers are starting to look gloomy and find it difficult to sell their products, we must support new construction because it is essential, but we must allow and offer this same device to young families of new buyers. That’s the whole problem of the nine today. The programs are not selling because investors no longer see any reason to buy properties today with rates of return that are too low. Hence the deceleration of the market and the shortage of housing that are found in large cities. The problem is the scissors effect which risks slowing down this dynamic. Even there, one day, the equation of the formation of the price of new properties will have to be reassembled. And there’s a lot to do…

Some brokers are asking for a reform of usurious rates (the maximum legal rate that credit institutions are authorized to apply, fixed quarterly): what is your position?

Too much freedom from the usury rate would allow for too much freedom all at once, at a time when markets are skyrocketing. The mere fact that the usury rate is reviewed every quarter is a guarantee of security for French households, preventing them from being exposed to an increase in the financing conditions that could be offered to them. At most, it can slow down credit execution times, but it does not bind credit disbursement. Releasing them completely could expose the French to hardship or to a too rapid slippage of the contracted interest rates offered by the banks. A binding usury rate is also a necessary constraint.

The French real estate landscape has seen the emergence of new agencies and new unions. Is it a factor of innovation for you, or a diversion of the profession of real estate agent?

Real estate is a profession. I intend to raise the conditions of aptitude for entry into this profession. And I also want to promote the restoration of a control, sanction and discipline commission. It does not exist in the Hoguet law, which regulates the conditions for practicing the profession, but I would like it to be included. It is part of my vision of things that we can put some order inside, with a commission that monitors professionals who are not, in terms of the respect we owe the public and consumers. . The Hoguet law has been around for 52 years. It is liberal and permissive and has allowed new models to penetrate, to develop a new vision for enabling – or promising – services that seemed efficient at a lower remuneration. However, these models, difficult to qualify, have failed to demonstrate their effectiveness or their superiority, or even, on the contrary, have shown their ineffectiveness. If the economic situation has swept them away, if a wave of growth has swept them away, the future is not guaranteed! Real estate is not an Eldorado where anything is possible! The period we will have to face will be decisive and will call into question models who have believed they have arrived or who have thought of developing a new form of immediacy. But that’s not it, real estate is about the long term, sustainability, we resist because we have values, skills, advice to give… Our clients recognize us in these values ​​there. Service is essential, of course. The service is useful, but the service can be abused, oversimplified and this is far from my point of view.

Interview with Frédéric Thual