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Real Life Experiences Say It Best

Over the last several months Paris Property Insider has provided
vital information on a variety of topics and issues relevant to
buying, owning, and renting property in Paris and France. You may
wonder how all that translates to the real world of real estate here.
Well, the proof is in the pudding. A selection of readers’ real-life
experiences follow…

* The Regular Costs of Ownership

Hello, I just read your article about the cost of monthly expenses of
a Paris apartment. We have a small apartment in the 12th, not far
from Gare du Lyon on avenue Daumesnil, and our monthly expenses are
no where near what you quoted as average. We are in a 100-year-old,
plain building without an on site manager, only a digicode, without
an elevator. While we get direct bills for our portion of any major
repairs, our monthly maintenance costs are under $150 a month, and
property taxes are under $150 per year. Water is included and halls
are kept very clean, garbage well taken care. Our individual
apartment expenses are billed directly and are very low, since the
flat is not used much. Each apartment has its own heating. The city
is constantly cleaning the street below and taking care of the trees

I was especially concerned when we bought this flat, a few years ago,
that the monthly expenses not be too high. We found many apartments
near this price range with monthly costs in the area of what we pay
now…and many with much higher costs. Often it depended on what
extras were included. It would be sad if anyone thinking of buying a
place in Paris thought they HAD to pay the high monthly costs you
mentioned in your article, since there are much lower priced places
available. I hope this information will be of benefit to you. (from

*Buyer Beware

Thank you for your newsletter. I, too, had a longtime dream of buying
an apartment in Paris and in the fall of 2000 did so. But my dream
turned into a nightmare. I had an attorney, I had a notaire, and I
had a realtor, but I had a crook for a seller who made an American’s
first time experience of Parisians an extremely negative one.

I purchased my apartment in a small apartment building of six
apartments on "rue du pas del la Mule," in the Place des Vosges. The
owner kept two apartments and sold the other four. I purchased one of
the four to use maybe for three weeks a year. I love Paris so to me
it seemed worth it. In advertising the apartments, they stated that
the price included the building of an elevator and renovating the
200-year-old staircase. And that is why I, and everyone else in our
building, bought the apartment in the first place.

In our "promise of sale" those promises were written in the document
and signed by the owner of the building, to be completed by December
2001. It is now July 2002 and it has never been done and he never had
intentions of doing any of the work, leaving gaping holes in the
walls of every floor and a staircase that is an accident waiting to

The owner of the apartment on the sixth floor sued the landlord but
was so disgusted he sold his apartment before he won the case. It has
been very disheartening. I didn’t buy an apartment in Paris to sue
people. I bought an apartment in Paris to rejoice in its beauty and
history. I haven’t had much opportunity to do that yet. I spend my
time trying to mobilize the other owners so that we can sue the
previous owner and have him keep his promises. (from AR)

* Banks and Mortgages

Your recent Parler Paris on Property [Paris Property Insider] was
interesting and mostly correct but there is one serious error. You
wrote: "Unless you are a resident here and have a salary or some type
of regular income going into a French bank account, you will not be
able to get a loan from a French bank."

I bought a house in Provence and took a 15-year fixed rate mortgage
at an attractive rate for 75 percent of the value with Crédit
Agricole. I am an American, I am not a resident of France, and I do
not have a regular income deposited into my account here. But I did
open both a savings and checking account with them.

They simply asked for copies of my last two tax statements and last
two pay slips, plus a letter from my company confirming my employment
and salary. It was simple. The most difficult document to obtain was
a recent birth certificate–since Americans do not renew their birth
certificates as the French do and often live quite far from the city
registrars that issued the original.

[Subsequent correspondence] Thank you for responding. I think we have
had different experiences in France that have lead to our different
conclusions. I really think that the Parisian banks are very
different, perhaps for the reasons you suggested.

When I discussed the differences with our Crédit Agricole manager, he
said that a number of Parisian banks had gotten burnt on bad loans in
the 80s, and were much stricter than the local banks who know the
houses and market values intimately. I think he may have had a

As you point out, the local managers can be flexible if they care to
be (like everywhere in France, the rules are draconian and the people
can bend them if they want to). (from RS)

* Apartment Rental

I enjoy receiving your e-newsletter. Just a comment about this item
in the August 15th issue. Owners who rent out their apartment should
consider if it will be rented furnished or unfurnished. I am told
there is a tax advantage if French property owners rent the apt. as
furnished. It also entitles the owner to charge a higher rent. Sadly,
quite a few owners resort to cheap quality dining tables,
click-clacks for sofas or beds, etc.

I looked at a lovely apartment overlooking Parc André Citroen
(10,000F) which had some of the oddest and ugliest plastic, wicker
and foam furniture that I’ve seen since my college dorm days. I
already have a canapé so I devilishly asked the owner if she could
keep the lovely floral print click-clack in her own home. She looked
totally horrified. I think she got my point.

My point, which might be useful for owners to consider, is that there
could be advantages to renting their apartment furnished. They also
need to think about the quality of the furnishings with respect to
damage, wear and tear (cheap IKEA stuff will wear out faster) and the
ethical consideration of giving the renter the level of quality that
he/she is paying for.

Sorry for the long rant, but I think property owners have difficult
choices and there’s lots to consider. Thanks for your own insights.
(from PP)

* Pre-emptive Rights

I was very pleased to read your explanation of the "droit de
préemption". This summer I ran into a snag relating to this very
point, and it was refreshing to get some clear insight into the issue
at large, something our notaire never bothered to do.

In our case, the sale was delayed because the seller’s notaire
neglected to take into account the fact that between the signing of
the "promesse de vente," the tenants vacated the apartment thereby
necessitating another round of DIA requests at the Mairie’s
Sully-Morland office.

It was all very frustrating particularly because it could have been
avoided, and the negligent notaire did nothing to pressure the Mairie
to speed up the process. En bref, we closed precisely three months
after the signing of the promesse. But it would have been reassuring
to have had an idea of the big picture at the time. [Thank] you for
simply telling it like it is. The very existence of your column
testifies to your belief that property owning abroad is very much
possible. Bon courage! (from RG)

* A Good Experience

Even though we bought our Paris apartment before coming across your
newsletters, we enjoy reading them. The information you provide is so
valuable. I wish we had had them before we bought. We would have been
so much the wiser about the whole process and the pitfalls.

We did as much research as we could prior to actually looking for an
apartment in Paris. Neither of us speaks much French, but we came
across a great English-speaking agent, who referred us to an
English-speaking Notaire as well. They were both key to making our
buying experience so positive.

We’d heard many horror stories about both types of professionals and
approached the whole process with a bit of trepidation. I don’t know
if we were just lucky or what, but they were a great help, honest,
and very professional.

Consequently, we have a wonderful little pied-à-terre in Paris! We
pass on your newsletters to our friends who are interested in Paris,
so they will have as much information as possible to make good
decisions when they’re ready to buy. Thank you! (from DH)

A bientôt,

Schuyler Hoffman
Editor, Paris Property Insider
E-mail: mailto:[email protected]

P.S. Want to learn some real estate terminology? Read on for a list
of terms and definitions. Toward the end of every Paris Property
Insider you’ll find details on the valuable services International
Living in Paris offers foreigners wanting to buy property here. From
cating your apartment or home, to obtaining a mortgage, to
renovating, we are prepared to assist you. Don’t miss the details


This luxury apartment, located between the Arc de Triomphe and the
Avenue Foch is the ideal apartment for business travelers working
either in the direction of the Champs Élysées or at La Défense.
Either location is only minutes away by direct Métro or even on foot.
The location, in the beautiful western section of Paris (the16th
arrondissement), is a very upscale residential section, with all
shops and necessary amenities next door, while still qualifying as an
ideal location for tourists due to its close proximity to the Champs
Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.

Offered at $1,000 per week, $3,000 per month

Pictures and more details available at:


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don’t know how to go about simply doing it?

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You’ll be minutes away from strolling along the same streets as
Amelie in this cozy flat of 31 square meters (334 square feet).
Situated in one of the most attractive spots in the 9th
arrondissement, it’s a sunny, two-room suite located on the 4th floor
of a quiet 150-year-old Parisian building, accented with a small
balcony. The decor is upscale chic while the price is not.

Offered at $980 per week (daily rate also available on request).

Pictures and more details available at:



There’s room for the whole family in this four-bedroom flat of 260
square meters with 14-foot ceilings. Located in a classic Haussmann
style building, this apartment sits on the "noblesse étage" (2nd
floor). In one of Paris’ most exclusive neighborhoods, just off the
Parc Monceau, you’ll be able to spend the holidays in the formal
salon and dining rooms, both with marble fireplaces. The master suite
comes with a fireplace and its own bath, and there is one bedroom
with twin beds for kids. You’ll never wait in line with three baths
and two water closets to choose from. The huge eat in kitchen seats
8-10 people and comes fully equipped–including a washer and dryer.
Appointed with art, antiques, new furnishings, satellite TV, French
Cable TV, and two VCRs, this is indeed the place for your holiday of
a lifetime. (photos available on request)

Available Dec 22- Jan 6 and offered at $2,500 per week (maid service
available by special arrangement)

For information on availability and booking, please contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=#plnoblesse




Paris for $1 a day! Small but complete Paris pied-à-terre in one of
the city’s best areas, the 16th arrondissement. It’s a seven floor
walk-up flat, but at a price of just under $65,000 and a monthly
maintenance of only $30, this is ideal for a student or your yearly
visits to Paris. Created by combining two "chambre de bonne", this is
a classic French home-away-from-home. Included are excellent security
and a permanent concierge to hold mail and packages in your absence.
With a southern exposure and a view of the Eiffel Tower, this
charming apartment can be your own piece of Paris to visit again and
again. Price includes a cabana on the street level for storing
bicycles, luggage, etc.

Offered at just 64,573 euro (Furniture included.)

Interested? Please contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ppiVINEUSE

Floor plan available at:


Whether you’re reading classified ads, real estate brochures, or
wandering around the city looking at the postings in real estate
office windows, you’re going to encounter terminology that is new to
you. To help you read the listings, here are translations for 29
common terms:

à vendre = for sale

vendu = sold

à louer = for rent

ascenseur = elevator

bien entretenu = well maintained

bon état = in good condition

cave sous sol = basement storage

chambre = bedroom

cheminée = fireplace

colombage = exposed wooden beams in the walls

cour = courtyard

cuisine aménagée or équipée = kitchen with appliances

cuisine américaine = open kitchen, usually with a counter/bar

dernier étage = top floor

duplex = apartment with two floors

éscalier = staircase

état neuf = recently redecorated

grand standing = prestigious building

haut sous plafond = high ceiling

immeuble ancien = old building (used to indicate charm and ambience)

immeuble récent = recently built (recent can me 100 years ago)

jardin = garden

metre carré (m2) = square meter

pierre de taille = stone building, in the Haussmann style

poutres (apparent) = wooden ceiling beams (exposed)

ravalement neuf = recent exterior renovations to the building

rez-de-chaussée = ground floor

travaux a prévoir = needs work

vue dégagée = open view (not obstructed by surrounding buildings)

w.c. = toilet separate from bath


Our recent Working and Living in France Conference this past October
provided a day of sessions covering the ins and outs of buying
property here. If you missed the Conference this time around, you’ll
have another opportunity to learn this valuable information at our
next Working and Living in France Conference June 19th through 24th,
2003. To be placed on our mailing list for information on the
Conference, please send an e-mail to
mailto:[email protected]?subject=JuneConference


Many people don’t have the time or the resources to look for their
own piece of France, especially if they’re located in the States or
another foreign country.

Our office offers you assistance to do the things you can’t do unless
you are here. We have a specific service to help you find your
property. Using our personally selected professional locators and
real estate agents, we work with you to find the property that is
worth coming to France to look at. Or if you are already here, all
the better.

After getting a basic idea of what you are looking for, we will spend
the next month searching for just that. You’ll receive weekly reports
with suggested possibilities and pictures that will help to further
narrow down what you want.

The fee for this service is $500. Should we find the right apartment
for you, there will be a finder’s fee of 2% on the price of the
property if you make the purchase, with a minimum of $5,000, maximum
of $20,000 (the initial $500 will be applied against the finder’s

For more details and answers to your questions contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ppiFindersServi

For details on our full range of property services, got to:


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