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“The Seller Giveth, And The Seller Taketh Away”

What do you do when you are in Paris, look at an apartment for sale,
love it, there is already a pending offer on it, you make a counter
offer, and the owner says she will give you until noon the next day
to decide if you can proceed with the transaction? I will tell you
what you do… but first let me back up and start at the beginning.

It all began with an apartment we looked at as part of the "apartment
viewing" portion of our recent Working and Living in France
Conference. Adrian Leeds took a group to see an apartment in the 3rd
arrondissement (Le Marais), not far from our own IL Paris office. It
was wonderfully renovated and tastefully decorated with antique
furnishing, and very interesting unique features.

The kitchen was "enclosed" in an iron framework with glass panels,
giving it a kind of atrium feel. The appliances were all stainless
steel. The high ceiling with exposed beams in the "double séjour"
(large living room) were accented by huge antique doors covering a
built-in cabinet, and a fireplace on one side of the room. Circular
glass "windows" were installed above the doorways between the kitchen
and living room and the living room and bedroom, allowing more light
to pass through from the four floor-to-ceiling French windows in the
living room.

The headboard for the bed was a partial wall–floor-to-ceiling, not
wall to wall, made of authentic 18th-century antiqued paneling.
Either side of the wall led into the bathroom of black slate tiles,
one step up. On the left, hidden behind doors (of the same paneling),
was a full shower and on the right, also hidden behind paneled doors,
was a toilet. In the middle was a bathtub and across from that, the
sink, of carved black granite. On the right of the bedroom was a
large linen closet and then another walk-in closet which was a
pass-through to the salon. The bedroom overlooked the private garden
courtyard below. There was also another doorway between the bedroom
and kitchen, giving the apartment a nice circular flow.

All this on the second floor, walk-up, in an 18th century building in
the Marais.

It was not inexpensive–asking price, 577,000 euro–but with good
short-term rental value, in an area where real estate values are
still going up… it would be a good investment.

Fast forward a couple of days. On the Languedoc-Roussillon Discovery
Tour, Adrian tells one of the participants about the apartment. Her
interest is piqued. Arrangements are then made with the real estate
agent in Paris to see the apartment on Sunday–a next to impossible
feat, getting an agent here to work on a Sunday.

Fast forward six days to Sunday. She’s looked at the apartment. She
loves it. She offers the owner a better price than the one
pending–and is given less than 24 hours to determine if she can make
the arrangements to go forward.

9:00 a.m. Monday morning, the plan of attack: We need to line up
financing, set an appointment with an English speaking "Notaire" and
possibly other legal advisors to assist our potential buyer. We have
less than three hours to accomplish this. We divide (Adrian and I)
and begin making phone calls. Our contact at the mortgage lender is
in a meeting until noon. Our secondary contact won’t be available for
another half hour to forty-five minutes. The Notaire is in a meeting
with a client.

10:25 a.m.: I run down to the neighborhood "tabac" to get our client
another pack of cigarettes… she’s just a bit nervous. We finally
make the necessary contacts. While our client is talking with the
lender, giving him all her relevant information, I’m talking with the
Notaire, explaining the situation and setting up a tentative
appointment for the afternoon to do the paperwork ("Promesse de
Vente"). Adrian calls the real estate agent to let them know our
buyer is ready to go.

10:45 a.m.: The agent calls back. The seller now says that the other
potential buyer has agreed to complete the deal without any
contingencies. She will only consider our client’s offer if that will
also be the case. And, she wants a document from the Notaire stating
there will be no "clauses suspensives" (contingencies) in the
contract. We discuss this with the client. It’s not necessarily a
good thing to do. If for some reason she’s not able to obtain the
loan, and has to back out of the deal, she would lose her 10%
deposit–required at the signing of the contract. On the other hand,
the law requires a seven-day period after signing, that allows a
party to back-out of the deal, for any reason, and not lose their

11:15 a.m.: Another call to the lender results in a promise to
expedite processing the paper work for the mortgage so our client can
either go through with the purchase or back out within the seven

11:30 a.m.: Our client, though still nervously smoking and a bit
overwhelmed, agrees to push ahead. We contact the No

taire and let him
know what the seller wants. He agrees, and takes the contact
information so he can send them the document.

11:45 a.m.: Adrian makes another call to the real estate agent. She
informs the agent that all is in place, they will be contacted by the
lender and the Notaire. We have a deal and an appointment at 4:30
p.m. for a signing of the Promesse de Vente. Time for lunch!

12:30 p.m.: There is an air of accomplishment, nervous excitement,
and a bit of "oh my god, what have I done!?" Lunch talk centers
around the apartment and what it needs, if anything. Our client talks
about all she needs to do as soon as she returns to the U.S., and
jokes about putting off her retirement to pay for the apartment!

1:15 p.m.: Adrian’s cell phone rings, she answers, we continue
chatting and sipping wine. Adrian’s conversation is a bit one-sided.
I notice her expression harden. She puts down her phone and just
stares at us. "That was the real estate agent," she says, "the seller
just signed with the original offeree." They had increased their
offer, over our client’s offer.

Silence was followed by somewhat of a sigh of relief from our once
potential buyer. "I guess I’ll be able to retire after all," she

A disappointment? For sure. Had we been used? Certainly. "It is just
not correct," to quote the agent (meaning, the owner hadn’t acted
properly at all). But as our client said, philosophically, "it wasn’t
meant to be."

Experience is so often the best teacher. I take the time to relate
this true story to you because there are a number of things you, as
potential buyers, can learn:

Buying real estate here is never a simple matter. You cannot simply
walk into an agency and have them find an apartment and handle
everything, as you often can in the States. There are a number of
people who must be involved–the lender (if necessary), the Notaire,
and possibly, someone to assist you through the process.

When seriously looking to buy an apartment, it is virtually
impossible to do if you are not here and unable to move quickly on
something you find and want to buy, especially if it is any kind of a
good deal or good investment.

While the whole process of buying here generally takes three months
to complete, with the right connections it is possible to expedite
some parts of the process. There is quite a lot of bureaucracy
involved, but even in France, a wheel that squeaks the right way can
get the grease.

Our client is still our client and still a potential buyer. She is
still interested in buying an apartment here in Paris. We have our
eyes open for another special place for her and this time around, we
will all go into it a little wiser and better prepared.

A bientôt,

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

P.S. Our recent Working and Living in France Conference 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 email to
mailto:[email protected]?subject=JuneConference

OR you may want to purchase a multi-cassette set of the ENTIRE
CONFERENCE LIVE ON VIDEO, available from International Living and
Prime Cut Productions in U.S. format (NTSC) or European format

TO ORDER YOUR VIDEOS, you may go directly to our online secure
payment order form at


Not only can you buy property in France, you can obtain financing
here to buy that property. Our IL Paris office has associations in
place with two major lenders who specialize in foreign clients. They
are especially interested in building their American customer base.
Through these lenders you can finance 70% to 85% of the purchase
price of the property, depending on your resident status in France,
at very attractive interest rates (currently 4.5% to 5.7%).

Our ser
vices are available to assist you with filling out initial
applications and collecting the documents you’ll need to apply for
your mortgage. We will set up the appointments with the lenders for
you, and if desired we can even accompany you to your appointments.

If you’re seriously looking to buy property in France and would like
more information on the lending process, feel free to contact us for
more information. Send an e-mail to
mailto:[email protected]?subject=PropertyFinancing.


A beautifully decorated, designer one-bedroom apartment. Located in
the popular 7th arrondissement within view of the Eiffel Tower, the
apartment contains a fully equipped office, living and dining rooms,
high ceilings, and wood floors. Situated in a prestigious building,
you’ll be within minutes to Saint Germain, Avenue Montaigne–home to
many of the chicest designer shops–and the Champs Elysees. This
outstanding flat is perfect for a professional or a couple looking to
spend a few months in Paris.

Available for a minimum of one month and up to six months, from
November 2002.

Offered at 3000 euro a month (includes a cleaning lady once a week).

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



Charming, quiet, fully-furnished one-bedroom apartment. In a 17th
century historic building, secure, sunny, on 3rd floor in a quiet
cobblestone courtyard. Walk to most Parisian landmarks, galleries,
museums. With fantastic shops and restaurants, the Marais is one of
Paris’ liveliest, most "trendy" neighborhoods.

No pets, smokers, students or children. Professional single or couple

Offered at $1,500 for the month (includes local telephone, all other
costs. References and $500 deposit required).

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


Adrian Leeds normally, shares her charming apartment with guests, but
this November, you can have it all to yourself…two bedrooms, sleeps
four. Another Marais charmer, staying here you’ll be close to all the
Marais has to offer, yet secure and comfy in your own quiet little

Offered at $875 per week or $1,500 for the entire two-week period.

Pictures and more details available at:

For reservations
contact:mailto:[email protected]?subject=#ableeds


Located in an historic 17th-century building that was completely
renovated in 1998. The flat itself was completely remodeled and
decorated in august 2002. Located near the Picasso museum and the
open air market on rue de Bretagne, it is superbly furnished and
decorated by an interior designer, inspired by medieval French

Available from December 14 and offered at $900 per week (less for
stays of two weeks or more).
Pictures and more details available at:



The flat is a large 70-square-meter duplex, beautifully decorated
with early 19th-century French antiques, a separate bedroom and two
single beds in the lounge. The living area on the first floor has a
fireplace, dining room, and a small kitchen. The upper floor consists
of a large bedroom with double bed, and is opened to the

that has a large Jacuzzi tub. The flat’s windows overlook the roofs
of Paris with an unlimited view. You’ll be just
around the corner
from the Centre Pompidou and the Hôtel Deville, and minutes from
Notre Dame. A stay here will provide you with all the comfort you

Offered at 1,120 euro per week for two people and 1,540euro per week
for four people. (Also available at a daily rate)
Pictures and more details available at:



Only a half hour from Paris, this 60-square-meter chalet is located
on a small hill, overlooking a garden, trees and the Seine in
Herblay. It boasts a large fully equipped kitchen which opens
directly on the dining-room, furnished with rustique furniture, large
windows, one bedroom and another small bedroom.

Offered at 1,200 euro per month.

Pictures and more details available at:



Many people don’t have the time nor the resources to look for their
own piece of France, especially if they’re located in the States or
other 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


Living in France for several years, we have accumulated valuable
information and developed valuable contacts. We are able to assist
you as much as possible and when necessary, put you in contact with
one or more of our professional associates to provide the help you

– Fee of $75 an hour with a two hour minimum, plus expenses (travel,
phone charges, etc. when applicable)

– Consultation can be arranged in person, by phone, or e-mail

For more information contact Schuyler Hoffman at
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ppiConsultation
or visit /parlerparis/services/index.html.


We can help you promote your property as well as connect you with
interested buyers we already have. Send an email to
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ppiForSale


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