Buying an Apartment in Paris

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This apartment in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris is on the real estate market

This large apartment in the 8th Arrondissement is for sale via East & West Realtors for 2,850,000 euros. Pictured here is the huge grand living room.

The word Paris conjures up romantic thoughts about the city and its history, art and architecture. Oh, and let’s not forget about delectable French culture and the sheer romance of it all. Who would not want to own an apartment in Paris? In order to get the lowdown, we asked some folks who know, namely Jennifer Sigler, a transplanted broker from Louisiana, and her French counterpart, Etienne de Damas, longtime real estate specialist in Paris, where they both work.

How challenging is it to purchase an apartment in Paris?
You’ve probably heard how much apartment prices in Paris have risen. Exceptional growth over the last seven years has seen prices doubling. People are now paying from 8,000 to 20,000 euros per square meter (1 meter is 10.76 feet), and even more for the best apartments in the districts around the river. Not to mention there is a lack of properties on the market. Without a multiple listing service, finding your dream apartment is definitely a challenge.

So what’s a girl to do?
Luckily, property finders have sprung up in Paris, and some firms will work together with other agents, which is not the norm. You must be focused, determined and ready when you begin your search. The Paris dream apartment is still a possibility, though you just might have to renovate it a bit!

Working with agents . . .
Without a multiple listing service in Paris, you will go from one real estate office to another in an endless circle if you are not prepared. Get prepared by doing homework on your own. There are many websites where you can find apartments listed by owners, bypassing those agents who are not interested in selling you anything other than their own listings. All it takes is a phone call to the owner to set up a viewing, and voilà—you are on your way to finding your dream space!

The modern, large kitchen of an apartment in Paris that is on the real-estate market

The modern, large kitchen.

What should I expect to pay for a one- or two-bedroom?
Each district in Paris is called an arrondissement, and each property has different prices based on its location, the type of building and the condition. The most popular areas on the left bank are of course the most difficult places to find an apartment. For a one-bedroom, one-bathroom around 800 square feet in good condition, the price could range from 785,000 to 900,000 euros. For a two-bedroom, one-bathroom around 950 square feet in the popular Marais district, one could pay nearly 1 million euros. Certainly there are rare finds to renovate that can be less, but the smart buyers are continually eyeing these treasures to fix up and rent out for income.

How quickly are real estate deals completed in Paris?
Once the apartment has been found and the decision has been made to purchase, the papers are signed. The final closing takes around three months, which gives you ample time to lock in the dollar-euro exchange rate.

Prices have risen a lot recently, is that right? Is now a good time to buy or is it a seller’s market?
Surely sellers are happy right now. But the market does give today’s buyer an opportunity to buy a dream apartment and to ride the wave of what seems to be an ever-increasing market.

What is an SCI? When and why would it be advisable to open one?
A notaire creates an SCI, Société Civile Immobilière, which loosely translates as a private limited company for property purposes. This type of company can be formed when you want to buy an apartment with your friends or family. The SCI owns the property with the purpose of renting it out when you are not using it. There are tax advantages to this type of purchase, so good advice is needed from a French lawyer or notaire.

 

This large apartment in Paris is on the real-estate market

Historic architecture.

What is a notaire?
The notaire (not to be confused with a notary in the United States) is a professional who is committed under the seal of the French Republic. Any real-estate transaction must be conducted by a notaire. He or she will draft the documents, the mortgage and other associated papers needed for the closing of the sale on your apartment.

How difficult is it to renovate an apartment in Paris?
It is advisable, like any other renovation project, to be onsite during the entire process. The best way to find reliable workers is by asking friends or colleagues who can offer references and details on workmanship. Several real estate agencies can recommend a certified, reliable work team to renovate a property. Be sure to hire a person who is either French or speaks French fluently and who is insured and certified.

Investing in an apartment in Paris?
Besides the city’s being an incredible vacation destination, owning a home in Paris can be a great investment. With low interest rates, and a solid market for growth in the most beautiful, most visited city in the world, your own apartment in Paris is one of life’s true luxuries.

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