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Apartments Falling In Your Lap And On Your Head

Volume I, Issue 29

Finding your dream Pied-à-Terre can be one of the most difficult things you do in your lifetime…visit dozens of agencies, read the For Sale by Owner ads, order up property searches, etc…or it could be one of the simplest…if it should happen to just fall in your lap. That’s what’s happened to me (when my landlord offered me the apartment I was renting) and that’s what’s happening to the Managing Editor of Bill Bonner’s newsletter, the Daily Reckoning (http://www.dailyreckoning.com), Addison W. In fact, one is falling in his lap and another on his head.
Addison and his wife just had a second baby and immediately outgrew their 40 square-meter two-room “rez-de-chausée” (ground level) apartment near rue Mouffetard. He pondered moving, then his landlord informed him the apartment was now for sale. Because he’s the current tenant, he has first right of refusal, by law. And not only that, the price was reasonable by market standards and the deal looked appealing. But, it still wasn’t enough space.
Miraculously at the same time, the owners directly above Addison want to sell their apartment…NOW…AND CHEAP. In fact, the price they want is about 2000 euro per meter less than the average in the arrondissement! Interestingly, the property is like a small 3 level house built into the back of a Hausmannian building, seemingly what once could have been a courtyard. Having two of the three levels would turn the one small apartment into a nice little duplex. Adding a staircase between the two levels looks at first glance to be a simple task, but a professional architect would be called in for an opinion before proceeding. (Read down further for more on professional inspections everyone must have!)
Meanwhile, we question if the owner of the third level would be interested in selling? Possibly! And wouldn’t that make a dream come true? A HOUSE in the middle of Paris with a total of 120 square meters on three levels on a courtyard all to yourself. Even if Addison decided not to join all the units into one home, he could still rent one or two of them on a weekly or monthly basis for additional income.
How to get the ball rolling? Step one: secure middle level. Step two: secure ground floor level (his current apartment). Step three: ask owner to sell top level.
Stay tuned. The negotiations have barely just begun.
Adrian Leeds
Editor, French Property Insider
Email: [email protected]
P.S. If want to get to know Paris better — don’t miss the Grand Tour of Paris by Thirza Vallois on Sunday, October 26th…see all 20 arrondissements neighbood by neighborhood, its history and its attributes as a place to live.
Volume I, Issue 29, August 28, 2003
In this issue:
* Getting the Bugs Out of Your New Home
* Most of the Foreigners Who Visit Paris are Americans
* Reducing Your Fees and Cheating the Tax Man
* French Spirits Run High in a Burgundy Presbytere
* What’s the Latest Rate of Exchange
* The Next Meeting is in September
* Hot Property: A Pentagonal Tower in Burgundy
* Property For Sale: Three Deals in the Heart of Paris
* General FPI Information…
Will your new apartment or home in France be safe?
By Adrian Leeds
Having a new property inspected before signing on the dotted line of the “acte de vente,” it’s not only a good idea, much of it is required by law. In the case of asbestos, lead and termites, the seller is responsible for providing these certificates by licensed inspectors, hired by you or by your notaire.
In July of 1996, France announced its decision to ban asbestos products which became effective January of the following year. According to the decision, the production, import, and sale of asbestos-containing products, including asbestos-cement, was prohibited. In 1996, laws were passed requiring the seller of a property to report on the presence or absence of asbestos in the materials used to construct the property. The asbestos report has to cover only the interior of the building, and has to say only whether certain materials are likely to contain asbestos
As early as the 1870’s, France banned the use of lead in paint. Lead interferes with the development and functioning of almost all body organs, and retards the development of the central nervous system and brain, so it is sometimes called, “brain poison.” Remodeling or renovating older structures generates a large amount of dust, and if the paint contains lead, would be dangerous. According to the public health code, buildings constructed or renovated prior to 1948 are at risk and subject to inspection. The lead report covers only painted surfaces that are likely to contain it.
In June of 1999, a law was passed to require the seller to determine the termite condition of the property, performed by an independent company not involved in extermination activities of any type of building located in a zone contaminated or likely to be. On the basis of occupant or owner declarations, the department is required to map the contaminated zones once a sufficient number of declarations makes them apparent. More than 50 departments are now infested with termites yet requiring certification applies in only about 25% of them.
There is no legal requirement in France to have a full structural survey carried out on a property prior to purchase, but if you’re about to purchase an apartment in a very old building or a very old home, it’s a very reasonable thing to do. This way you can be sure you are paying a fair price for the property considering its condition and be forewarned and any structural work that needs attention, likely incurring additional expense.
Especially in older buildings, electrical wiring and plumbing can be faul
ty. This gives another cause to having a professional inspect the property before you make this purchase.
We recommend investing a small amount of money in a proper inspection to insure that huge expenses and grief don’t occur down the road. We can recommend two Paris professionals, both of which will be speaking at our upcoming Working and Living in France Conference:
Jean Taquet, Legal Advisor
E-Mail: [email protected]
Derek Bush, Architect
Email: [email protected]
The Office de Tourisme et des Congrés de Paris reports that in 2003:
The arrondissement with the most hotel rooms is the 9th with 8,552.
The arrondissement with the least number of hotel rooms is the 20th with 587.
From 2002 reports, French guests made up 32% of the nights stayed, 68% foreigners. Of the foreigners, 20% were American, 15% British, 8.4% Italian, 7.5% Japanese, 6.3% German, 5.8% Spanish, 4% South American, 4% Asian and Australian, 3% Near and Middle Eastern and 2.3% Russian. American business was down by 3.2% from 2001 to 2002.
By Adrian Leeds and Jean Taquet

In the August 8th issue of French Property Insider in the article HOW TO COMPARE ASKING PRICES WITH SELLING PRICES — AND THE ART OF NEGOTIATION, I made the statement:
“Some attempt to play the tax game by paying for part of the price in cash to the seller and listing a lower final price on the sales documents, thereby reducing the notaire fees. I warn you…this is illegal and a dangerous game. If the price noted is below the market value, an investigation could ensue and you jeopardize yourself and your notaire.”
So, I interviewed our resident expert, Jean Taquet to explain this more fully. His response:

I take an example for you to understand: I sell an apartment for 500,000 euros that is the real price that the buyer will pay me.
Scenario one: the notaire drafts the closing with 250,000 euros as the selling price and the rest is paid to me 250,000 euros in cash. The taxes are about 6% of the transaction = 15,000 euros, the notaire’s fee is about 2.5% = 6,250 euros, total= 21,250 euros.
Scenario two: the normal transaction…the taxes are about 6% of the transaction = 30,000 euros, the notaire’s fee is about 2.5% = 12,500 euros, total= 42,500 euros.

This alone has just saved you 15,000 euros in taxes and 6,250 euros in notaire’s fees. With that alone, the French tax authority can sue you for having cheated on taxes for 15,000 euros, which will happen if they find it.
Now from a legal point of view: Let’s say that the apartment is 100 m2. This means that if sold for 500,000 euros the single m2 is worth 5,000 euros which is the market price in some parts of Paris. Now if the apartment is officially sold for 2,500 per m2, then it is awfully cheap and the city pre-empts the sale. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition: The right to purchase something before others, especially the right to purchase public land that is granted to one who has settled on that land.)
This means that you gave 250,000 to the notaire and 250,000 in cash to the seller without a receipt to document it. So let’s say that city-hall pre-empts the sale, then it gives the notaire 250,000 euros so it can be given back to you. The end result to you is that you have just lost 250,000 euros and no way to get it back from the seller since there is no documentation.
Of course, I used numbers so that this is obvious, but simply, 50,000 or 20,000 euros can make a serious difference and can be enough to trigger a tax inspection or a good deal for pre-emption.
Editor’s Notes:Jean Taquet is a French jurist and associate member of the Delaware Bar Association. He frequently speaks at our International Living WORKING AND LIVING IN FRANCE CONFERENCE here in Paris. He helps many in their personal and business legal issues with individual consultation, has been well-known in Paris for his informative Q and A columns and is the author of THE INSIDER GUIDE TO PRACTICAL ANSWERS FOR LIVING IN FRANCE.

By Jeffrey Greene

Chapter One — The Presbytery
How is it that real estate agents know even before they look at you, as they shout on the phone to a colleague, that you are a waste of their time? They must develop a sixth sense to spot dreamers, like us, who know nothing about owning a house. The agents spend their days taxiing people around a particular region, fumbling with keys and feeling about for light switches, each house a disaster, a trap, a mystery, an answered prayer. They wipe spiderwebs out of their eyes, confuse the facts, answer each question with “I’ll find out for you,” knowing that they’ll never have to. Meanwhile their clients see themselves sleeping, eating, listening to music, bringing up children, getting drunk, making love in rooms that strangers have forsaken because of a job change or moving up, or in some cases divorce or death.
Mary and I, with our little white Maltese, Christabel, waited patiently to be noticed by a middle-aged man wearing a green checked jacket with an ocher shirt and dark green pants, a kind of uniform of the French salesman. Seizing the chance to impose herself before his next phone call, Mary announced, “Monsieur, nous cherchons un moulin ou une petite maison, pas trop cher, pour restaurer, quelque chose sur le Cousin ou la Cure.” We wanted a cheap house or old mill to restore, maybe on the Cousin or Cure rivers. We had lived long enough in France to know that all such negotiations begin with “C’est impossible à trouver.” This conversation began with an equivalent: “Quelle surprise, madame. Tout le monde cherche la même chose.” Everyone is looking for the same thing.
Mary responded, “You’ve listed a mill in Mélusien, and we’re interested in learning more about it.” Touring nearby, we had seen the mill and noted the distinctive Day-Glo-orange poster proclaiming à vendre. We wrote down Jean Rousselet, rue de Paris, a small real estate office in Avallon. Undeniably, a picture of the mill was taped to his window, and it became all too clear to Monsieur Rousselet that
his afternoon was as good as shot.
Before the summer of 1992, Mary and I had never seriously considered owning a house together, so there must be a mental condition that could be called house buyer’s psychosis. No one can be rational about such a huge commitment or expense as buying a country house. That summer, we had both become stricken while staying in a relatively unknown region of northwestern Burgundy. Once the condition takes over, you begin to hallucinate. Maybe you see an ivy-covered house in the Burgundian rural landscape, the reality of a photo in a nerve-worn magazine stacked in your dentist’s waiting room. Maybe you see your life set in the restorative pastoral calm and solitude of nineteenth-century painting and literature. You see a chance to live a second life, to reinvent yourself in another country. Or you see your rural childhood home, if you had one, your childhood river, a place to slip back to in middle age, into the reassurances of a remembered world.
Unfortunately, your childhood home is long gone, and as you age you become ever more tangled in the person you happen to be, no matter how many houses you acquire. Still, when looking at houses, you see many things that aren’t there.
For years, Mary and I had visited French friends in their country houses along the Loire, in Normandy, or in Burgundy. Our friends invariably bad-mouthed their places shamelessly — Quel boulot! Ça coûte une fortune! Ce n’est jamais fini! Quel esclavage! In turn, we’d answer the requisite and sincerely felt Quel paradis! as we sat in gardens, listened to songbirds in young fruit trees, or inspected the freshly finished rooms. We assumed that complaining in a state of happy slavery is one of the delights.
The idea of Mary’s and my owning a country house together was even more preposterous because we spent most of the year living on separate continents. When we got together, we lived in an unreal world of driving off to Italy on a whim or indulging in three Paris films on a given Sunday. One owns a country house to get away from the confines of the city and one’s place of work. One can let the kids go nuts.
The summer of 1992 Mary and I exhausted ourselves driving from Paris to Szeged in Hungary. We took up a long-standing invitation from Mary’s colleagues Erika and Péter to vacation there. As early as the seventies, Mary had worked with Hungarian scientists, who, in spite of severely limited resources in materials and the influx of techniques mainly from the outside, managed to maintain their strong scientific tradition. Mary had great respect for their commitment, and in turn they hung her picture in the cafeteria of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Institute. I had read and loved the poetry of Attila József and Miklós Radnóti, whose tragic lives are legendary, and I was interested in the glories of Hungarian intellectual life that produced the likes of Leo Szilard and Edward Teller, the former known for his work on the Manhattan Project and the latter for the hydrogen bomb.
In 1992, the Russians had already pulled out of Hungary, leaving behind their unwanted statues and dismal barracks scrawled with graffiti. The government was desperately trying to privatize state holdings while at the same time larger European companies were buying small Hungarian industries and terminating their operations to avoid competition from low-wage workers. The massacre in the Balkans was well under way, with refugees filtering over the border. Péter warned, “Stay on Rósza Ferenc under the lights while crossing Népliget Park.” The whole town seemed to be out strolling the paths, making love on the riverbank, or watching the outdoor movie theater, the projection filling the trees with huge figures…
The foregoing is excerpted from French Spirits by Jeffrey Greene. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve known Jeffrrey Greene for almost as many years as I’ve been in Paris and have stayed with him and his family at the Presbytere on several occasions. The photo of the house was taken by me prior to much of the final renovation. He is also the author of two books of poems, American Spirituals (winner of the 1998 Samuel French Morse Prize) and To the Left of the Worshiper (Alice James Books, 1991), and a poetry chapbook Glimpses of the Invisible World in New Haven (Coreopsis Books, 1995). He was a winner of the Randall Jarrell Prize and the “Discovery”/The Nation Award and received prizes from The Denver Quarterly and The Southern California Anthology. We were very pleased to have Jeffrey work with us an an instructor for the Paris Poetry Workshop this past spring here in Paris.


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Rates as of 2003.08.28 11:22:39 GMT.
1 U.S. dollar equals euro 0.924274 (0.903933 euro last week)
1 euro equals U.S. dollar 1.08193 (1.10628 last week)
NEXT MEETING: September 9, 2003, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This is your opportunity to meet twice a month, often with local professionals who can answer your Working and Living in France questions. You are invited to come for drinks and share your questions and comments about what it takes to create a life here, own property and enjoy what France has to offer. It is also an opportunity to network with other Parler Paris readers.
For a detail description of the past meeting and for more information about Parler Paris Après Midi, visitb https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/parlerparis/apresmidi.html
We are constantly looking at properties for sale to offer to our subscribers only. Each week we will be bringing you one or two properties we believe are especially worth your consideration. As a subscriber, you will have an exclusive first look at these before they are added to the listings on our website.
< /font>AUXERRE (Bourgogne, Department 89), 1 hour 30 minutes from Paris. Property from 19th century, on a park with 2 000 enclosedsquare meters, trees centenaires, unobstructed view on the Yonne River. Stone, pentagonal form tower with staircase, tourelles and gargoyles. Quality amenities. Move-in condition. 150 square meters of living space: living room, dining room, study-library, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms , 2 toilets, equipped kitchen, dressing room, storeroom. Terraces, garages, workshop, pigeon tower, cave. Possibility to purchase 1.500 square meters of adjoining plot .
Asking Price 398,000€ plus 2% Finders Fee.
Serious inquiries can be directed to email: Burgundy Pentagonal

CHABLISIEN (Bourgogne, Department 89), a small farmhouse with character, recently renovated, 110 square meters of living space, 3 bedrooms, at street level, large sunny terrace. Large cellar vaulted. Gas heat. 2-car garage . Outbuildings to renovate. Courtyard enclosed. On 4 acres.
Asking Price 167,500 € Plus 2% Finders Fee.
Serious inquiries can be directed to email: Burgundy Farmhouse

Property listings – Sale

* PARIS 4th
Marais, near Place des Vosges, on 3rd with elevator. Beautiful studio of 32,38 square meters (loi carrez) : living room, kitchen, bathroom . On pretty courtyard planted with trees, peaceful. individual gas heating. Cellar. Caretaker. Digital code security system.
Asking Price 197,000 € plus 2% Finders Fee.
Serious inquiries can be directed to email: Vosges Studio
* PARIS 5th
1 bedroom a few steps from rue Mouffetard and avenue de Gobelins. 37 square meters, wood beams, parquet floor, large sitting room, bathtub, kitchen, bedroom, Ground floor on small street and garden, peaceful. electric heating .
Asking Price 209,000 € plus 2% Finders Fee.
Serious inquiries can be directed to email: Mouffetard One Bedroom
*PARIS 6th
Métro Vavin near Luxembourg Gardens . 2 rooms, 30 square meters: entrance hall, kitchen with window, bathroom/toilets with window, on 3th floor opening onto courtyards, peaceful, bright, sunny, cellar. Entirely remodeled . Low charges .
Asking Price 202,760 € plus 2% Finders Fee.
Serious Inquiries email: Vavin Two Rooms
We’re equipped to assist you with every aspect of buying an apartment. We can create a package for as much or as little assistance as you need. From merely locating an apartment to helping you set up utilities or do a renovation, we can help.
Full details are posted on the French Property Insider website at https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html
Don’t forget that with your FPI subscription you are entitled to a discount on the purchase of any Insider Paris Guides. You’ll find details of the guides at http://www.insiderparisguides.com. When ordering, a box will pop up allowing you to enter the following username/password
Order more than one guide at a time and you will receive an additional discount!
Username: propertyinsider
Password: liveinfrance
If you have basic questions concerning apartment and home renovation, contact our resident expert Derek Bush by visiting https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/frenchproperty/insider/services.html
If you are seeking to rent a furnished apartment for a week, a month or a year or you have an apartment you wish to rent, there are a couple of ways we can be of assistance. Click here for more information: https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/frenchproperty/insider/forrent.html
– FPI Website: To access any password protected pages, the username is: fpiuser and the password is: paris1802. If your computer utilizes cookies, once you log into a subscriber only section, the login information will remain active for seven days, after which you will have to login again.
– Past issues of FPI are available on the website. You will find the “Past Issues” link on the left under “Subscribers Only” or by going to https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/archives.cfm
– Instructions for upcoming conference calls are on the FPI website. You’ll fin
d the link under the “Subscribers Only” section on the left of any page.
– Get In On The Discussion: Care to weigh-in on current HOT topics of discussion on France? Get in on or start your own thread on our bulletin board at http://www.agora-inc.com/forums/index.cfm?cfapp=15
== FOR SALE ==
Paris Left Bank — 13th arrondissement bordering the 5th, duplex on the 3rd and last floor plus a loft, total 87 m2 with 71m2 Loi Carrez (above 1.8m2). Quiet, sunny, lots of character (wood beams, traditional staircase) with stairs from living room to loft. Main bedroom downstairs overlooking east courtyard and living room overlooking rue Pascal. Two rooms upstairs, living room 27m2, toilet/shower/bath separate, equipped kitchen, storage room, cellar, double glazed windows and pine wooden floors. Rental history 1850 euro per month.
Asking Price: 445,000 euro
Call for private sale: +33 (0) or Email: Duplex_on_the_Left_Bank
2 lovely apartments in the 1st arrondissment across the street from the Tuileries Gardens, 3 minutes form the Place Vendome. Available for rent by the week or longer term: 6 months to 1 year. 2-3 bedroom duplex w. 2 baths/ Tuileries view. OR 1-2 bedroom same building. Both are elevator accessible, non-smoking and no pet properties.
To check them out and for reservation and contact information go to http://www.youlloveparis.com.
Stay in your own 17th-century pied-à-terre in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, by the week or month. Sleeps 4. Newly furnished and redecorated. Totally charming. From $150 per night. Visit https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/frenchproperty/insider/rentals/mazarine.html or contact Rendez-Vous à Paris at [email protected]?subject=IL_Reader or call +33 (0)
Guest Room or Two-Bedroom Apartment…
Located in a 17th century Le Marais Hôtel Particulier, this 70 square meter apartment two-bedroom apartment with lots of light is nicely furnished and is perfect for a single woman in the freshly renovated guest room when owner Adrian Leeds is in or for up to 4 people when she’s traveling.
The Guest Room is offered at $575 per week ($250 deposit required). The Entire Apartment is offered at $875 per week ($350 deposit required). References are mandatory. Pictures and more details available here: https://adrianleeds.com/wp-content/uploads/newsletters/parlerparis/apartments/rentals/leeds.html
For information and reservations contact: [email protected]?subject=ABLGuestRoom
For the latest listing of vacation rentals, click here:
The International Living Paris Office can help you secure a mortgage in France with interest rates as low as 3.35%.
Contact [email protected]?subject=Mortgage for more information.
To convert square meters to square feet, multiply 10.763 by 3.281 and for more conversions, refer to:
If you’re not a regular reader of the Parler Paris daily e-letter, and would like to be, simply enter your e-mail address here (it’s free!): http://www.internationalliving.com/signup.cfm
* * * * * * * * * * * *
Copyright 2003, Agora Ireland Publishing & Services Ltd.


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