How To Recognize A Good Real Estate Buy In Paris

montmatre paris view

In an episode of This American Life recorded back in 2000, writer David Sedaris takes host Ira Glass on a tour of Paris—his adopted home.

Here’s how Glass introduces Sedaris…

“Two years ago, at the age of 41, barely speaking French, David Sedaris moved to Paris. He had no special feelings about France, no particular interest in the French. It would be the same if it’s Korea, he said to me, a sentence that, I think, if the French ever heard that he said it, they would deport him.”

The deeply cynical Sedaris also made a pact with himself to avoid all the usual tourist traps in the city. In pre-smoking-ban France, he says of the Louvre…

“Why come to Paris and go to the one place where you’re not allowed to smoke? As a matter of fact, it’s my goal to be the only person who’s come to Paris and has never set foot in the Louvre.”

I get Sedaris.

I’m not easily won over by a place. And, for me, Paris was a slow burner.

It didn’t wow me the first time.

Or the second.

Third time, though, I was converted…

Because I stumbled on Montmartre.

Now this part of the 18th arrondissement—where the LIOS Paris office is located—has become my favorite part of the city.

Here in Montmartre, there’s a strong village feel. Birthplace of the Moulin Rouge and the Chat Noir, no doubt this is a heavily touristed area. But real life happens here, too…

Sitting at an outdoor table in the evening—even in chilly October—you’ll see everything from serious runners with head torches dodging the hipster on an electric scooter… to young families chasing their kids on bicycles… to a troupe of priests trying to find a table for 30…

Soaking it all up during my visit to the Paris office last week, one question haunted me…

How much for a square meter here in the 18th arrondissement?

I’ll tell you the answer in a moment. But first, let’s take a look at how the Paris market is doing as a whole right now…

What’s Happening On The Paris Property Scene?

Unlike here in Ireland where a looming Brexit has had a negative effect on prices (both buyers and sellers are being cautious), Paris is benefitting.

Earlier this year, a U.K. buyer bought a 16-room, 1,000-square-meter apartment in the 7th arrondissement. The 39-million-dollar sale became a new record for the city.

Also this year, the average property price broke the 10,000-euro mark. Prices in 13 of the city’s 20 arrondissements now sit above that average.

The most sought-after addresses are in the 1st, 6th, 7th, and 8th arrondissements. Limited demand (because if you own an apartment in one of these neighborhoods, you typically hold on to it) keeps prices high…

If you’re looking to make an investment in a rental property, note that the 6th arrondissement is the most expensive in the city. This is where all the tourists want to be, meaning a rental here will always find a tenant. The buy-in is hefty—currently averaging around 14,270 euros a square meter—but the occupancy rates can compensate.

More interesting from a cost-per-square-meter perspective can be the 11th (around the Place de la Republique), the 18th (Montmartre), the 19th (home to Buttes-Chaumont park and the popular Bassin de la Villette), and the 20th (one of the most multi-cultural areas of this city), all neighborhoods enjoying gentrification and becoming increasingly trendy. You could buy in the 18th or 19th for as little as 6,000 or 7,000 euros per square meter with a reasonable expectation for both rental cash flow and near-term appreciation of value.

Note that property moves quickly in the city. The average time to sell a property in Paris today is 42 days, but property in the most sought-after areas can have the sale agreed in as little as a week. 

How To Recognize A Good Buy

If you’re thinking about entering the Paris property market, here are three critical criteria behind any good purchase…

1. Location

This comes down to both the arrondissement and the neighborhood. Look at things like proximity to food shops and open markets… proximity to parks, gardens, and areas for jogging, for example… and proximity to Metro stops and train stations… these things are important both for your own enjoyment and also for attracting renters…

2. Characteristics

Carefully examine what the building offers—including the façade, the stairwell, the elevator (or lack thereof), a courtyard, etc.—as well as the apartment itself. Valuable characteristics in a Paris apartment include things like parquet, moldings, fireplaces, shutters, and original fixtures and hardware. A cave (underground storage place, intended originally and specifically for wine) is another good characteristic…

3. Price

Again, the most expensive addresses in Paris are found in the 6th, 7th, 1st, 5th, 3th, and 8th arrondissements… in that order. Prices are recorded and reported religiously and reliably by the Notaires in Paris, making it easy for you to get an idea of what you should spend for whatever and wherever, exactly, you want to buy…

Current Offerings From Montmartre

For our property samples this week, let’s stay in the 18th arrondissement, in and around Montmartre, where you’ll have a steady flow of tourists… and, again, per-square-meter prices are reasonable for the city (averaging 9,520 a square meter today).

Note that for this selection, I’ve stuck to property that has the charm visitors look for when renting in the city. You’ll find cheaper options, but most likely they will be soulless.

  • This 54-square-meter apartment is close to the Lamarck-Caulaincourt Metro station. On the second floor, it has an open view over a courtyard, has been renovated throughout, and has open kitchen and living area, bedroom with a shower room, laundry room/toilet, and cellar. Price: 634,000 euros (US$705,040).
  • This apartment with 65 meters of living space is spread over the second and third floors of a stone building. It has an entry hall, large living room (with a view over the square below), kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, and two cellars. Price: 765,000 euros (US$850,715).
  • A loft apartment with lots of natural light, accessed through a wooded courtyard. With 45 square meters of living space, it has an open kitchen/living/dining area, bedroom, bathroom, and mezzanine office. Option to rent as residential or commercial space. Price: 620,000 euros (US$689,470).
  • An old courtyard shop that’s been converted to a two-room apartment. Close to the Metro, this 52-square-meter property has a kitchen, large living room with fireplace, bedroom, and two bathrooms. Home theater system with retractable screen included. Price: 550,000 euros (US$611,640).
  • In a building with a lift and garden, this 57-square-meter apartment was renovated to a high standard in 2016 and has a feel that’s bright and modern. Fifty meters from the Metro and close to shops, it has kitchen/living room, two bedrooms, bathroom, toilet, and cellar. Price: 690,000 (US$767,305).
  • On the fifth floor of an old building, this 41-square-meter apartment has a view over the roofs of the city and Sacré Coeur. With its original parquet floor and moldings, it has a living room, equipped kitchen, two bedrooms, shower room, and cellar. The building also has a secure storage room for bicycles/strollers. Price: 419,000 euros (US$465,940).

For help with your property search, you can reach our preferred real estate resource in this part of the world here.

Have a question? You can write to Lynn here.