Archive for July, 2010

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!


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? 🙂

Thoughts on the Paris housing market, summer edition

July 8, 2010

My latest 100% anecdotal, completely unscientific observation: I’ve noticed, and maybe this is just wishful thinking, that lately the market appears to be more favorable for buyers.  The first sign was that apartment down the street that had to be reduced €15k before selling.  Now I’ve started getting emails with subjects like “just reduced!”  This seems to contradict the latest findings from the Paris Notaries that prices have increased 5% over the past year, but actually I think it has more to do with timing.  It’s the soldes, it’s summer, many people are or will be on vacation, and so perhaps fewer buyers are actively (and reactively) looking.  Or so I hope.

Relatedly, apartments are staying on the market for longer than we’ve been accustomed to – ie, more than an hour.  A few months ago it would be rare to receive multiple email alerts for the same apartment unless it was undesirable (ground floor, no light, etc), but lately I’ve seen the same listings pop up in my inbox repeatedly.  For example, last week a realtor called me about two apartments she had for sale in the 9th, in the same building.  One sounded great, except for the asking price.  At 9500€/m2 I politely refused, got off the phone and exclaimed to my companion “elle est tombée sur la tête!”  She’s nuts!  9500€/m2 would be the deal of the century for an apartment in the 6th, but not in the 9th on a street where the average is 7300€/m2.  Lo and behold, a week later I get an email alert – both apartments are still for sale. View the listing while it’s still up — and it will be up for awhile at that price! — here.  I wonder what it will eventually sell for and if someone will suck it up and pay the asking price.

Arts et Metiers (again), Saint-Augustin, Ile Saint Louis

July 4, 2010

I’ve been a bad blogger.

What can I say?  The heat of June, the soldes, the thrills of the auctions, the World Cup and ensuing French soccer drama, travels and weddings and real life have all gotten in the way of our boring old apartment hunt.

Yes, we’re still looking.

Over the past two weeks I’ve received at least one phone call from a realtor every single day.  This is a great sign.  Unfortunately, these phone calls are often for apartments that are too expensive or in a neighborhood we don’t want so they don’t often result in visits.

So a quick recap to bring you up to speed:

Arts et Metiers – Last week I came full circle and went to visit a one-bedroom a few buildings down from one of the very first apartments I visited back in late December.  The street, Rue du Vert bois, remains as charming as ever.  This apartment was a 2nd floor walkup in a very rundown building.  The visit was doomed from the start – I asked the realtor about the price and how long it had been on the market, and he explained that he had sold it a few days before on the first visit.  The owner, unfamiliar with the Paris market and thinking that if it sold so fast it must be underpriced, refused the offer and raised the asking price by 20k.  Sound familiar?  This is exactly what happened to us way back when with the Ecole Militaire apartment.  As with us, the potential buyer ran ran ran as fast as she could from the seller and the agency, and now the poor agent is back to square one.  He seemed unhappy with the situation – it puts him in a bad position and reflects badly on him and his agency – and was clearly upset enough to tell me all about it.  Regardless, the small size of the apartment (barely 30 m2), the work needed (new kitchen, bathroom, toilet, floor, electric), and the poor condition of the building with no work on the agenda would have been dealbreakers.

Saint-Augustin – This morning I saw a very complete PAP description – 3rd floor walkup overlooking street with cave and concierge, completely renovated, and the address of the street.  I had everything I needed to decide I wanted to visit and when I called the owner to ask when the visits started she said “now!” and so I was there less than an hour later.  The neighborhood was great and the apartment is not even a block away from the beautiful Saint Augustin church with its neighboring park and lively square.  True to the description, the apartment didn’t need any work.  But.  27 square meters is just not possible for us.  Note to self: stop visiting apartments under 30 m2, everytime we walk away saying they feel too small.

Ile Saint-Louis – this one, I did not visit, but I have to share anyways.  Some realtors send texts instead of calling, and last week I got a hilarious text, “If I told you I had a 22 m2 one bedroom, 5th floor walk up, on Quai d’Orléans, that needed to be renovated, for only 370k euros, what would you say?”  Well, I didn’t reply to that one!  I’m not sure which is crazier – paying nearly 17k/m2 (or nearly $2k/sq ft!) for an apartment that needed to be renovated, or thinking that a 230 sq ft space is a one-bedroom.  Honey, where I come from, that ain’t even a closet.