Luxury real estate is my life. It’s in my blood as my family had a very successful luxury real estate company. But, like so many others, I did not realize real estate was my passion at first.
I needed to get away from what I knew. I went to college and got a post-graduate degree and got a job in a different field before ultimately returning to the family business.
I know my story sounds really familiar to many of you. But the difference is that my story is not American. It’s French.
My grandfather started Demeure Immobilier in 1920, and he grew the company from its first office in Bois-Colombes into one of the most recognized real estate companies in France.
We also had a very successful luxury division, Demeure Prestige. I attended Dauphine University and got my MBA from Oxford University. I began my career at an executive search firm but soon came back to real estate and have run the company for the past 20 years.
Personally, I have been involved in more than 5,000 real estate deals.
I realized several years ago that luxury real estate, where my wife Vanda and I were most successful and comfortable, was undergoing a rapid change.
Largely because of multi-national companies, the affluent have gained greater worldwide exposure and experience. This has caused those who work in the luxury space to have to take a more global view and expand their client base tremendously.
I come to the U.S. very often (my daughter worked in Manhattan before relocating in London). I have also attended and spoken at many real estate conferences over the years and enjoy talking about what is occurring in Europe and beyond.
I want to help shrink the world and provide a different perspective of where high net worth people choose to buy homes.
Those who work in luxury real estate outside of the United States are very aware of what happens here. We know about New York prices, what is happening in the Hamptons, Miami, San Francisco and LA, Silicon Valley and so many other places like Aspen. But we also pay attention to so many other markets outside of the U.S. That is very natural for us.
I have so many friends in U.S. real estate and talk very often with many of them. I encourage them, as I am encouraging you, to learn about the rest of the world too.
I thought you would be interested to know that none of my recent high net worth clients had bought a second home in the U.S. This is a change over recent years when I’ve had so many clients buy in Miami and New York.
Instead they bought in places like Saint Rémy de Provence, Cap Ferret and Guéthary in France, Spetses in Greece, Forte dei Marmi and Porto Cervo in Italy, and Ibiza in Spain.
The reason is very simple. Just as it occurred in the U.S. as the recession faded, the “smart money” knows when to re-enter the market.
U.S. prices have risen, but the European market is behind so our prices are low. We are at the beginning of the new housing cycle. The Euro is low, and our lending rates are a little over 1 percent.
This is an important trend simply because the number of affluent in Europe is rather large.
In fact, the U.K., Switzerland, France and Italy combined to have more millionaires than China. France has more than 523,000 millionaires alone, more than double that of Saudi Arabia and ahead of Canada and Australia.
That number may rise even higher because Paris may attract some of the London banking firms eager to leave due to Brexit.
In future articles, I will talk about luxury real estate around the world, showcase some to the top markets and provide insight about how real estate is conducted outside of the U.S.
Laurent Demeure is the founder and CEO of Coldwell Banker France & Monaco.
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