Playing Monopoly in the Real World of France
Volume XIX, Issue 19
The Air France flight to Atlanta with colleague Ella Dyer by my side was one of the most enjoyable flights of my life. Ella had her new “baby,” Simone, (an adorable white Chihuahua puppy) in a carry-on that was to be a big surprise for her husband when she landed. There was almost no one at Charles de Gaulle Airport, so we breezed through check-in and were overjoyed to discover that we were two of four people (+ one baby + one puppy) in our entire cabin of 140 seats.
We had four flight attendants and four toilets at our disposal. To say we were well taken care of is an understatement. The champagne and wine were flowing, along with the “digestifs” (Pear Liqueur and Cognac). We had so much fun we almost didn’t want it to end! We watched movies, pigged out, drank ourselves silly and giggled through the whole flight as we secretly stroked Simone behind her ears as she stayed on our laps under a blanket to hide her.
My mission in New Orleans, my final destination, is to attend my cousin’s daughter’s wedding over the weekend and to visit with my three sisters whom I haven’t seen in two years. It will be an informal family reunion that will start tonight around a “crab boil” dinner—a family affair with the immediate clan, a table piled high with boiled crabs, crawfish, shrimp, maybe even some raw oysters (the plump Gulf Coast kind that fry up fine) and, if we’re lucky, will be accompanied by a bowl of gumbo.
The gumbo was always what our mother, Gert, concocted and that which we all adored. It was the best of gumbos and I would dream in advance about it. She would be sure to make up a big batch just for me when I came to visit…that is, when she was alive. Before she died exactly six years ago (at the ripe old age of 98), she refused to give me the recipe and pronounced that she was taking it with her to her grave. I may never forgive her for such a selfish act, but one can only laugh knowing our mother who was beloved by everyone for her no-nonsense personality and corny humor. I believe she wished her gumbo to be part of her legacy never to be reproducible. She succeeded.
The topic of property will not be ignored while I’m in New Orleans. One of the first things we will do is visit a property that one of my sisters has purchased for investment purposes—a two-bedroom condo very close to her own home. She has always been an investor in such rental properties and that has served her well. One of my nieces is also in the business of acquiring rental properties all over the U.S. and now in Europe, as she owns one small apartment in Paris and is in the process of purchasing another one in Nice. Our mother was of the same ilk. I can remember tagging along with her as a very young child while she went to collect the rents in some low-income housing in a neighborhood of color where the rents were $2 a week.
It made a strong impression on me as I witnessed the poverty, the apartments each only as large as two rooms where often many people lived, communal bathrooms at the far end of the property that didn’t appear very sanitary, and our mother’s fearlessness at going door-to-door to ask for the rent. Keep in mind that this was New Orleans in the late 1950s, just before integration in the South was to seriously shake up everyone’s lives. I suppose that was the level of property she could afford owning and I believe it was her own little personal venture aside from our father’s business.
It’s funny how I can so vividly remember it, even though I may not have even reached kindergarten age. I couldn’t comprehend what segregation was all about, nor why so many parents moved their kids to private schools when that one adorable little Black girl came on the first day of school. She was wearing a beautiful white dress with a big white bow in her hair. My best friend and I looked at one another and asked each other, “Is that what all the silly fuss was about?” We simply couldn’t grasp why the adults were so upset over something so unimportant…to us. Fortunately I never inherited the racist attitudes of the South and always felt perfectly at home and comfortable with people of any color, rich or poor. Perhaps I have our mother to thank for that, being at her side as she collected her $2 rent and built up her own little nest egg.
So, I suppose property ownership is in our DNA by osmosis. There is no doubt in my mind that it’s a direct route to securing a solid future and creating a stream of passive income. The trick is buying the right property at the right price, and starting off with a location that is virtually risk-free. We can’t always predict what the future will bring…such as a pandemic, or a market crash, or lightning striking, etc., but you can look at all the assets and liabilities of the property, make the best decision and then…as we might joke in the South, “pray like hell.”
Paris is a risk-free market where France is concerned when it comes to appreciation, but has turned out to be less lucrative for our owners who once enjoyed the profits of short-term rentals…now illegal for secondary residences. It’s a big reason so many of our clients are choosing to invest in Nice instead where prices have been stable for the last 10 years, but where short-term rentals of secondary properties are legal for a maximum of six years—and property is half the price.
The rentals in Nice can be year round thanks to all the events that take place there, although we find that in high season (late spring to early fall), the rentals are one week or less at premium rates. During low and mid-season (early fall to late spring), the rentals tend to be one to three months at lower rates.
There are other parts of France which can also make very viable investments, as a good piece of property with more assets then liabilities just about anywhere can prove to be profitable, too. But, profit isn’t the only reason to invest in France. In fact, the number one reason to invest in France, from my perspective, is the sheer enjoyment of the asset itself. If profit is your only goal, then I’d advise you to seek out other prospects—there are plenty of places in the world where you can invest your money and be guaranteed a quicker, better and less complicated ROI than in France. But, France is where one can gain tremendous pleasure from investing one’s hard-earned savings.
We spend a lot of time talking with our clients about “where” in France they want to be and what their goals are. We start with the emotional side of the purchase and continue the discussion with what suits their pocketbooks in order to create a balance. If you can afford Paris (there’s nothing less than 300,000€ worth owning really, and that’s for just a studio apartment), then buy in Paris. But if you want more space (double the size) and an immediate revenue from the property, then choose Nice. If neither markets interest you, then we can help you discover the ones that will.
Start now, as young as you can, to get into the property investment game…while you’re working, earning money, can qualify for a mortgage and leverage your assets to play Monopoly in the real world…of France. Contact us to learn more about how to get started. Email us today to start your adventure in France!
The Adrian Leeds Group®
Adrian with Simone on Air France