House Hunter: 'I'd like to buy a flat to let in Paris'

Sally Partridge has just had a baby and wants to buy a flat in Paris as an investment, though she may live there one day. She has a budget of around £70,000
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"I currently share a mortgage for £90,000 in the UK on a one-bedroomed property in Islington. I know that eventually we will have to move. However, I would like to make an investment now for the future, both for myself and my baby.

"I currently share a mortgage for £90,000 in the UK on a one-bedroomed property in Islington. I know that eventually we will have to move. However, I would like to make an investment now for the future, both for myself and my baby.

"I am very familiar with Paris as I lived there for a year while I studied French at university. Partly because of my own experiences of renting while I was a student, I am interested in the rental market in Paris and ideally want to buy a studio in an area where house prices are not sky-high. Ideally I would like it to be somewhere that would appeal to a young professional or student.

"I want to rent the property out as soon as possible, but who knows about the future? One day I might like to use it as a pied à terre or perhaps my son may want to live there.

"I would like some advice on financing the purchase and also would like to know if this is a good movend if I will be able to make a decent profit?"

THREE PROPERTIES FOR SALLY TO VIEW

Property one: Rue Hermel 75018 Paris

Price: £62,000 Agent: Privelège Immobilier 00 33 156 554 543

Agent's details: This studio flat of around 23sq m is situated in a beautiful 19th-century "Pierre de Taille" building in the north Montmartre district, which is less touristic. The property is well maintained and in good condition, having been refurbished around four years ago. There is a street market just behind it and a bus which takes you straight to the university.

Property two: Rue Guillaume Bertrand 75011

Price: £55,000 Agent: Century 21 République 00 33 140 210 050

Agent's details: This is a large studio flat of around 27sq m in a Seventies building near to the trendiest road in Paris at the moment, the Rue Oberkampf, and just 10 minutes walk from Le Marais, so it's very central. It's near a "grand école" and is a very safe area for students.

Property three: Rue Rambuteau 75003 Paris

Price: £60,000 Agent: Trans Immo 00 33 142 770 088

Agent's details: This is a small studio flat of around 15sq m with a balcony. It is situated in a stone "Pierre de Taille" building, and it is in a fantastic central position, just between Les Halles and the Centre Pompidou. It is a good quality flat with a small kitchenette and the flat has a beautiful view of the street below.

MARIE-PIERRE'S ADVICE

"I would say that this is a very good idea. If your budget is less than £100,000, it is quite impossible to buy in London, but in Paris it is easy to get something. For Sally's budget, you could even get a one-bedroomed property for this amount.

"The only difficulty with buying in Paris is that each agent covers only the small area around their particular office and, as there are more than 2,000 estate agents in Paris alone, you need to visit dozens before you even find two or three properties in your price range. Also, there are many more buyers than there are properties, so you may find that when you register, the agent promises to call but never does.

"You may need to spend weeks there looking and if you have no time you may as well forget it. Most of my clients are busy people and many, unlike Sally, don't speak French and most Parisian agents don't speak English, so without me they wouldn't be able to buy. Sally had some concerns about the buying process, but it's much more straightforward than in England. Once you've signed the initial compromis de vente, there can be no gazumping, so it's much less stressful than it is here.

"Most people don't know Paris as well as Sally does, with her experience of living there; they know only the tourist areas. But I showed Sally a range of properties and some were in areas that even she hadn't considered. I know Paris very well, having lived there for many years, so I'm able to help find the best places, both for investment and for pied à terres. All of the properties I showed Sally are in areas which are ideal for students, either very central or close to universities and, as Sally knows from her own days at the Sorbonne, Paris is very short of property which is suitable for student accommodation. There is usually a queue of around 30 possible tenants for each flat, so she will have no trouble at all letting to a good tenant and she will definitely get a good return on her money. At the moment it is the exact opposite of the current London rental market."

Marie-Pierre Saint Martin runs London Paris Dream Home, 020-7820 1337; www.parisdreamhome.com

SALLY'S VERDICT

"Marie-Pierre was fantastic, very friendly and personable, which was great as it wasn't easy house hunting in Paris with a small baby in tow!

"I speak fluent French, but I would recommend Marie-Pierre even to French friends, as she knows so much about the whole buying process and really knows the market over there.

"Had I done this alone it would have taken a lot longer, but Marie-Pierre showed me a good range of properties which helped me to decide and I've now bought property number one, although I wouldn't have thought initially of buying in Montmartre. Ideally, I would have chosen property two, but it needed a new kitchen and bathroom. With my budget, I want to be able to let the property immediately so I couldn't wait - although Marie-Pierre would have tackled that for me too. She also helped me get a mortgage by recommending an advisor, so I'm absolutely delighted with my investment flat which will make a great pied à terre. She is wonderful."

If you would like House Hunter's help, write to House Hunter, The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS, or e-mail househunter@independent.co.uk

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