September update – there is nothing to update

September 20, 2010

A few phone calls, a few ads that have interested me, but no visits since the last time I posted.  I’m feeling very “over it” and sometimes a few days will pass before I check the throwaway email account for all my explorimmo, seloger, pap, etc alerts.  And even if I do see something that kinda piques my interest, most of the time I can’t even be bothered to call.  The longer we wait, the pickier I get, and now I am deadset on remaining within a few blocks’ radius of our current place.  Yes, I am in serious need of motivation.

The only two notable tidbits I must share are about two apartments from the past.

The first is that Rue du Pont Neuf apartment that we attempted to buy, a few months ago, for either €220k or €250k, I honestly can’t remember.

Surprise, surprise, it’s back on the market with a brand spankin new price.

This really upsets me because it means the agency we dealt with was not at all forthcoming with us – we made our offer at full asking price and normally that’s the end of the story, the apartment should have been sold to us.  And now it reappears a few months later, with the exact same agency, and in the exact same condition, but with a new much higher pricetag?

Something’s rotten here.  I’ve been bugging my darling to call the agency for an explanation since he’s the one who dealt with them, not me.  Don’t hold your breath.

Similarly, this one-bedroom in the 5th was also relisted for a much higher price.

I think this one was initially listed at €260k or €280k, but we didn’t even go to visit it because it is a 3rd floor over a bar and a very loud boulevard.  When I saw that it was relisted for at least €55k higher, I had to call and ask why.  Apparently the owner paid for the roof to be redone and also did some interior work on the stairs.  Whether or not this deserves a €55k price increase remains to be seen, but at least there is a (somewhat) reasonable explanation for the jump.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the return of the fresh market, the vide-greniers that accompany the rentrée, and these sunshiny days of early fall.  Apartment hunting, and thus this blog, have completely fallen by the wayside and my lack of updating has everything to do with that reality.  Hopefully next time I update it will be something actually exciting to share, or at the very least an actual apartment visit!

Bulle immobiliere?

August 16, 2010

The Paris Dream nails the current obstacles potential buyers are facing:

Paris real estate prices are soaring, wiping out completely any declines in the last two years with a value increase of  up to 15% overall,  year to date*. While prices are soaring, the highest level ever, volume is down 30% from that of the periods between 2002 and 2006 according to Baromètre MeilleursAgents.com.

A lack of inventory has meant those selling can increase their prices. The historically low interest rates are another factor inflating prices. Large flats / apartments (3 pieces or larger) have also been increasing in the last month or two as families rush to settle in before the school term starts in September.

Ugh.  On the one hand, this explains the recent insane prices and makes me regret that Gobelins apartment from the very beginning like you wouldn’t believe.  On the other hand, I’d rather forgo the Pret a Taux Zero and wait –months or more*– than buy something at prices that are not entirely justified.

Speaking with friends and family back home, who have dealt with entirely different markets — NYC and South Florida — has reinforced this feeling.  When I told a NYC friend how insanely fast properties move here, he got very concerned and described his own search a few years ago, including the time he missed out an apartment because he waited to finish his meal before visiting.  “Yikes!  That reminds me of the NY bubble a few years ago!  Doesn’t that make you worried?”  Due to personal reasons he ended up delaying his search until this year.  Although he hasn’t found a place yet he feels much more comfortable looking now, because of the prices and the better position that NYC buyers are in compared to a few years ago.

And then the property belonging to my South Florida relative was on the market for two years with multiple price reductions before it sold.

I know, it’s silly to compare apples and oranges.  When considering the sky-high prices, the short hours properties stay on the market, the upside down agent-buyer dynamic, “but it’s Paris!” is always in the back of my mind.  But is Paris really so special as to be insulated against a housing bubble, is it really the exception?  I can only hope that la rentrée in September will be bountiful, and fear that I will be writing blog entries here for far longer than I ever imagined.

*Our current apartment is a hole.  But it’s a great location with a lovely concierge and cheap rent.  We can deal.

Holy moly

August 9, 2010

Just got a phone call for an apartment at Stalingrad that is 9100 EUROS the square meter.

When I heard the price the first time, I had to ask the realtor to repeat it because I thought I misunderstood.

Why am I freaking out about this?  Well, it’s an utterly unexceptional fifth-floor walkup overlooking the courtyard in an “emerging” neighborhood that averages 6000€/m2.

We are not looking in this neighborhood and the apartment would be too small for us anyways, but what worries me is the slim possibility that the real estate agent is not actually crazy to be asking so much.

If this is a preview of what’s to come with la rentrée in September, we’re screwed.

Bottoms up!

Notes on the Paris market, riddle me this edition

August 3, 2010

It’s August and many if not all real estate agencies will be closing for a week or two if not the entire month.  I have absolutely no expectations for this month so there might not be any postings.

That being said, in the past week or so I have noticed a “flood”* of listings for outrageously priced studios in the 5th and 6th.  These are not the same properties being posted over and over again, but they all fit the profile of what expat investors look for when buying a pied-a-terre.  Small apartments in central, touristy locations with elevator.  No more no less.

The first few times I saw such listings I kinda gasped at the prices — usually between €12k and €13k the square meter — and moved on.  But since I’ve seen a few of exactly the same type of apartment during a very weak time of the year for the real estate market, I have to wonder, why are these types of properties appearing on the market now?

Are foreign investors pulling out of the market now that the Euro has recovered a bit?

Are sellers considering when potential foreign buyers may be in town on vacation?

Is this the prime time for well-off families to buy an apartment for their child heading off to university in the fall?

Or maybe for families who want to enroll their kids at Henri IV or Louis-le-Grand?**

Pure coincidence?

What are your theories?

To give you an idea of the type of properties I am talking about, today alone I received emails for the following apartments:

€340k, 29 m2 “one-bedroom” near the Pantheon

€330k, 30 m2 studio at Place Monge in the 5th

€350k, 27 m2 studio on Rue Dauphine in the 6th

*”flood” is a relative term for the Paris market.  At least five, perhaps even ten.  I have never seen so many of this type of apartment in these neighborhoods in such a short period of time.

**Henri IV and Louis-le-Grand are two of the most prestigious public schools in Paris, both located close to the Pantheon.  Families will buy a maid’s room or small studio nearby just to have an address within the school zone.

Butte aux cailles

July 27, 2010

When I got the email alert for this apartment, I forwarded it immediately to my companion with the subject “This could be the one!”

And oh, it could have been.

Nice stone apartment building, US 3rd floor walkup with balcony and cellar, original herringbone floors, UNBELIEVABLE decorative molding to top off those nine-foot-plus high vaulted ceilings, great location in the Butte aux cailles (a cute villagey feeling neighborhood with great bars, restaurants, grocery shopping, and just one block away from the metro stop with three convenient lines), and at nearly 500 square feet it was the largest apartment we have seen to date.

Goodness gracious, yes, it could have been the one.

Ignore the grime, look at those floors! That molding!

But.

Per usual, the realtor minimized the amount of work needed.  An ikea bathroom and kitchen, we could swing.  The entire €40k+ overhaul it needs (electric, heating, windows, kitchen, bathroom, toilet room, a wall or two needs to be taken down), not so much.

I thought we might be able to negotiate the price a little, given the time period.  But the realtor had been waiting eight months to list this apartment and wasn’t about to lower the price to sell it a day or two quicker.  And honestly, the price was entirely fair and I’m sure they were able to get it.  It’s just too big and too expensive for us with the work it needs.  At least it’s encouraging to know that apartments like that are out there – this is EXACTLY what we’re looking for.  Fingers crossed we can find it again, this time in our price range!

Pick of the day: Pyrenees

July 26, 2010

What can I say, I’m a sucker for beautiful buildings, especially ones that are apparently in some historical register.*  Look at those windows, that brick, that stone!  The interior looks nice too, with high ceilings, huge windows, and original wood floors and wainscoting.  Click through to view the rest of the listing – the only negatives (for me) are that it is in the 20th, and that at €7500/m2 it seems high for a neighborhood where average prices are in the €5000/m2 range.

*classé au patrimoine de france according to the listing.

Second pick of the day: the thinking man or woman’s apartment

July 20, 2010

God love the French.

Rue de Saintonge Au dernier étage d’un immeuble du XVII siècle ou vécu Blaise Pascal

Yes, the first sentence of the listing points out that Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician and philosopher, lived in the building.  To me that’s something quirky to note but it wouldn’t be a major selling point and wouldn’t be the highlight of the pitch were I the realtor.  But clearly I’m not French.

The location is great and the price seems right.  If living in the same building as Pascal did appeals to you, click on through for the details.

Relatedly, the Rue du Pont Neuf apartment we tried to buy a few months back was in the same building where Molière was born.  But the non-local agency never mentioned it to us – we only found out when we passed in front of it and saw the bust of Molière on the building!

Pick of the day: Blvd de la madeleine

July 20, 2010

For what feels like the millionth time, yet another studio is for sale in that Madeleine art deco building I love so dearly.  I would not recommend this to live in, because it looks to me like it’s on the US 2nd floor, but it would be a great investment property and might even work as a seasonal rental.  At this price, assuming the square footage is listed correctly and there are no major flaws besides the low floor, you better jump on it.  View the listing here.

Etienne Marcel (again) (yes really. ugh.)

July 19, 2010

I just recently got into Dexter, and so now whenever I’m on my way to an apartment visit I can’t help wondering if this one will be the one, if tonight’s the night!

Spoiler alert: far too often, it’s not.

I was called during the week about a third-floor walk up, 30 sq meter, one-bedroom apartment at Etienne Marcel, a few buildings down from that plywood one awhile back.  I knew going in that we would probably pass because of the size, but I wanted to go just to meet the realtor and hopefully make a good impression and get his thoughts on our search.  He was a nice guy and I was happy that he called me even though I had never met him; apparently I had left my contact info with him months ago when I called about a listing.

However, my pre-visit hunch was correct.  Rue Saint-Sauveur, I can deal with; 30 square meters, I can’t.  The bedroom was barely 80 square feet!  I’m not even sure you could get an adult-sized bed in there!  There were other minor things – the proximity to Rue Saint-Denis, the Northern exposure, the bathroom with sanibroyeur (macerator) and no ventilation system or window (hello, mildew!), but ultimately we would rather spend more money to have enough space for a proper queen bed.  Totally insane, right?  That’s what you might think from the reaction of some realtors.

Later that day I got a call for a US 6th floor.  With elevator.  And balcon filant – a wraparound balcony.  At Bastille.  DYING – this is my WISHLIST come to life!  But at only 27 m2, there was no way and I finally mustered up the willpower to refuse what would be a futile visit.  If I could have that but around 35 – 40 m2, I would make the offer sight unseen.  Are you listening, universe?  If so, that, plus in Montparnasse.  Pretty please.

The stuff nightmares are made of

July 12, 2010

Just going through my email alerts and came across this gem:

donnant sur parc avec jeux d’enfants. Au 1er

First floor overlooking a park with jungle gym/swingset/who knows.  I don’t know why they would specify park with playground unless they’re trying to appeal to families?  Though why would a family be interested in a one-bedroom?  Or maybe it is code for “cour de récré”?  In which case good luck – been there, done that, never again.

Yes, on the long list of past horrors,* we once lived behind an elementary school.  More precisely, our second floor apartment looked directly onto the playground.  We had visited the apartment in the evening and so didn’t think anything of it before signing the lease.  But boy did the sounds of kids screaming and playing and crying ruin many a Saturday morning, because yes in France there is school on Saturdays!  That school started at 8:30 am, but the kids were in the playground from 8 a.m. onwards which made for an impossible-to-ignore alarm that was especially painful after a late night.  Perhaps we’re just grumps and this type of noise wouldn’t bother you; if so click here to view the rest of the listing.

*So.  Many.  I’m not even counting undergrad dorms because those were actually decent compared to some of the utter holes I’ve lived in since.  Current apartment included.  That we find an apartment!  Universe are you listening? :-)


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