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Taking Risks on a Snowy Paris Day

We woke up to a serious layer of white, fluffy snow making the sky a bright gray diffused light. No warm brights, no dark shadows…just an even tone so typical of Paris I have come to appreciate, like the palette and brush stroke of an impressionist painting.

Every person I spoke to this morning said the same words: “C’est Paris sous la neige!…il est beau, n’est-ce pas?” It doesn’t snow often, so Parisians are like children in wonderland under the influence.

It’s a special snowy morning for me, as I met with a real estate agent to negotiate and finalize the price of a 23 square-meter studio on popular rue Charlot (Le Marais, 3rd) I am hoping to purchase currently inhabited by an elderly woman under the provisions of the 1948 rent control laws. Because of this, the price of the apartment is about half of the current market value even considering estimated renovation work.

There is a risk in this kind of investment, should the tenant outlive me or the costs associated with owning the apartment exceed the revenues. I’m willing to take this risk because we believe the tenant has not actually occupied the apartment for some time. With an attorney’s help, I may be able to prove that, in fact, she has broken the lease, leaving me, the new owner, to do what I want with the apartment. Naturally, I’ve earmarked it as an investment property, either for vacation short-term or long-term rental.

I’m able to do this thanks to the equity built in my current mortgage — the value of my Marais apartment has increased so dramatically that the lender is offering me a 100% mortgage for this new property. It’s a tough deal to turn down, n’est-ce pas?

Yesterday Paris was lightly snowy, too, but it didn’t stick and just turned everything glisteningly wet. In the midst of such miserable weather, I met clients from the States on rue St. Paul to visit two apartments under their consideration to purchase for a pied-à-terre they can enjoy themselves from time to time and then rent the rest of the year (hoping to cover the mortgage and operating expenses by the rentals).

Both were special finds — the kind of “sexy” apartments that aren’t so readily available on the market and a decision between them was not easy — one on rue St. Paul, the other on rue St. Antoine, both in the heart of the 4th, Le Marais. After exploring them both and over a frothy café creme at a nearby café, we all struggled with determining which was the best investment, which was the most pleasant to own, which would ultimately be the smarter purchase. There’s always some risk involved, but which has the least? A rental agent we regularly work with confirmed my own opinion — the larger one-bedroom apartment directly on rue St. Antoine overlooking the St. Paul Métro entrance, in spite of its 3rd floor walk-up and in need of some renovation (a new kitchen and bath, the other needed no work whatsoever), was the best buy, best rental, best investment. Who can resist the fabulous veiws of rue St. Antoine and Le Marais…Paris stretched out before you without having to budge from your vast tree-top windows?

On this snowy winter day in Paris, with the 17th-century wooden floor beneath my feet, I think about the past lives who came before us and built these walls and sculpted this society…I think about our present lives in the City of Light as we relish the frozen crystals turning to liquid before our very eyes…and I ponder our futures as bright and profitable, thanking Paris all along the way.

A la prochaine…

Adrian Leeds
Editor, Parler Paris
[email protected]

P.S. If you’d like to learn about the insights, recommendations, and discoveries about buying and investing in real estate in Paris and France…subscribe to French Property Insider…an e-mail newsletter from the editors of Parler Paris./frenchproperty/insider/subscribetofpi.html

P.P.S. Special welcome to Nancy Szczepanksi (shch-pine-ski!!), our new “Calendar Gal,” who brings you today’s edition. Nancy came to Paris after living in Japan as it’s her life-long dream to be here…an English teacher by trade, she’s determined to find work and create a new life here. Nancy will be working with me every Wednesday on Parler Paris Previews, so send all your community announcements directly to Nancy at [email protected]

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