Are you thinking about buying and renovating property in Paris? Don’t know where to start?

In the first of this two-part blog, you can learn about the process from a buyer who has recently renovated a property on the Rue de Lille.

Diversifying your portfolio

“I bought this property to diversify my real estate portfolio” says Taizo N., a Japanese businessman who entrusted 56Paris with his search. His newly-renovated apartment is in Paris’s Rue de Lille. It’s a beautiful street in the city’s 7th arrondissement (district).

“Initially my family and I used the property as a pied-à-terre. But now I’m planning to lease it as a rental investment.”

So why did Taizo choose to use 56Paris as a search agent? “Truth is, I just didn’t have enough time. Before I found 56Paris, other agents would send me details of properties for which they got marketing mandates from sellers. However, each property was handled by a different broker. It was difficult to manage and the level of service was disappointing. It’s hard to find brokers who provide comprehensive service and speak English well.

“I also recognized that 56Paris had fantastic knowledge of the Saint Germain area.”

Finding the right property

Finding the right property can take time. Taizo says, “I visited at least 12 properties, maybe more, before finding this one.”

It’s also important to realize that your expectations may change during the process. “Initially I thought natural light was crucial, along with high ceilings and being on a floor higher up. But I found that many apartments with high ceilings are on the lower floors. This means less sunlight.

“I ended up giving priority to natural light and a higher floor, rather than high ceilings. This apartment has windows facing both southwest and northeast. So there is a lovely breeze when the windows are open. It also has two small balconies.”

Location, location, location

“Saint Placide was my first idea because my daughter had lived there. But the Carré Rive Gauche area is well known as an attractive area for art and antique lovers.

“It also has a rich history, with many famous former residents. I felt at home, as it reminded me of where I had lived in South Kensington in London and the Upper East Side in New York.

“There are also many galleries within walking distance. After exploring the area, I really appreciate window shopping at the various art galleries and antique dealers. It’s always fun to look into those galleries from outside.”

Was there any part of the buying process that turned out differently from what Taizo had expected? “It took longer to close the deal compared to my mother country: four months from when the offer was accepted. I’d say it’s usually one month in Japan.

“I also found it difficult to buy a property where the common areas have not been renovated for a long time. This was a factor in my decision of which property to buy. Having said that, it can be a way to buy such properties at a cheaper price. The risk is that the co-owners may or may not vote to renovate the common areas after your purchase.”

Renovating property in Paris from abroad

Living outside of the country, how did Taizo manage the renovations? “56Paris introduced me to an interior designer with experience of period buildings in Paris.

“I was lucky because my family and I were able to meet with her when she came to Japan to visit another client. She knows Japan well and understood our culture and style of living. We were able to exchange many opinions before starting, she listened well to our needs.”

Were there any challenges during the renovations? “The charming old French windows were tricky. They looked good so we left them during the renovation. But after staying in the apartment in winter, I realized the insulation wasn’t efficient. So we reinforced them with double glazing.”

Advice for first-time Paris buyers

Now the process is complete, does Taizo have any advice for those thinking about buying property in Paris? “Walk around the neighborhood to understand the location. But keep an open mind about the area. For example, many Japanese buyers wish to purchase in the 16th arrondissement, but the 6th and 7th are very nice too. Even though you may end up with fewer square meters.

“Finally, I would recommend using a buyer’s agent to represent your interests, especially if you’re not Paris based.”

Ready for your own renovation project?

If you’re interested in buying your own Paris property for renovation, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at 56Paris for free, no-obligation advice.

And don’t forget to read part two of this blog: an interview with the interior designer.