House Hunter: 'We want to move to the centre of Paris but don't have time to look at anything'

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Lyndsay Jones writes: "For some time now we've been thinking about buying an apartment in Paris.'

THE PROBLEM

Lyndsay Jones writes: "For some time now we've been thinking about buying an apartment in Paris. We've lived there before and, despite it being a large city, it's also very relaxed and is the ideal place to spend weekends. Paris is just so convenient especially with the train which is really easy to travel by. Flying is always more disruptive and is much more hassle particularly as we have a baby.

I want to move fairly quickly. After all, if we're going to do this, we may as well do it now. I'm Australian and my wife's Canadian and we're not sure how long we'll be here. But the problem is that with my job I can't afford to take time out during the day to make appointments with agents and they are not around in the evening or at weekends.

I'm not particularly fussy about what sort of property I would like but if I had to produce a shortlist it would include a one or two bedroomed flat which is very central and where it's easy to walk down to the river and near a big park. I'd like it to be easy to get to either from the airport or in particular the Gare du Nord where the train comes in. I would like the property to be in either the fourth, fifth or sixth arrondissement. The location is definitely more important to me than type of property, which I have no particular thoughts about, other than it must be around 50 metres square in size and have a proper bathroom and kitchen.

I'm very attracted to the idea of having someone such as a search agent do the initial legwork on my behalf and then I can go and look at the short-listed properties and make a decision."

THE ADVICE

"After talking with Lyndsay I realised that he fell into a particular category. Buyers fall into three categories ­ those looking for pieds-à-terre to use a lot, those buying purely for investment or those, like Lyndsay, who want to use the property as a family home but also hopes to let it from time to time.

"An important factor here is that he also knows Paris fairly well so I pointed out to him that he had to decide between the right and left bank as a location. The right bank is mostly Le Marais and the left bank is the Latin Quarter and St-Germain. As he has a baby and wants to be near gardens or a park the left bank is much better for him.

"Lyndsay also wants somewhere which is peaceful and quiet and ideally overlooking a courtyard so we narrowed down our search to the fourth, fifth and sixth arrondissement and took Lyndsay on one visit out there to see them all. We are a search company so we only show clients properties which exactly fit their requirements in order not to waste time looking at unsuitable properties. They may not like them all but they will all fit the bill. If you do the house hunting yourself, even if you speak French fluently as Lyndsay does, you will still generally need to make around five trips to Paris and of course agents are only open during office hours. Also remember that there are around 2,000-3,000 agents in Paris and most deal only with the small area around their office.

"When we find a suitable property we always negotiate on our client's behalf. Because of the French system, a deposit is legally binding, vendors often try to hang on for a better offer but most of the time it's possible to bargain the price down and sellers expect that.

"In this case the flat's location far outweighed its condition and the one we've found for Lyndsay is in the perfect location, in the sixth arrondissement which is one of the smartest and most expensive areas of Paris, but it just needs a bit of decorative work which we're happy to arrange. It is near the Luxembourg Garden and is very quiet. It's a very good investment and, once decorated to a high standard, local agents tell me that it could rent for £1,000 per week."

Marie-Pierre Saint-Martin is a search agent for London Paris Dream Home. +44 (0)20 7820 1337; www.parisdreamhome.com

THE SOLUTION

Property one: 1 Rue du Roi de Sicile, fourth arrondissement.

Price: €350,000 (£235,000).

Agent: Accentim +338 92 70 08 20; www.accentim.com.

Agent's details: This studio or one-bedroomed flat, around 47sq m, is in Le Marais, the historical part of Paris and one of the most lively and chic areas of the capital. Set in an 18th-century building, the flat has been redecorated to a high standard and has parquet flooring and fitted kitchen. It is very light with big windows, high ceilings and exposed beams.

Property two: 2 Rue d'Assas, sixth arrondissement.

Price: €340,000 (£227,000).

Agent: Etude du Luxembourg +331 42 84 28 28.

Agent's details: Near Le Jardin du Luxembourg, this one-bedroom or two-bedroom flat, which is around 45sq m, on the first floor, has a quiet bedroom overlooking a courtyard. It is in a stone building dating from the beginning of the 20th century, and the main rooms are in good condition but the kitchen and the bathroom need redecoration.

Property three: 3 rue des Fossés St Marcel, fifth arrondissement.

Price: €336,000 (£226,000).

Agent: Lemasson Immobilier +331 45 35 24 96.

Agent's details: A one-bedroom flat, 50sq m, in the south of the fifth arrondissement, not far from Le Jardin des Plantes. It is on the fifth floor with a lift and a superb view over Paris. The 1930s building is in a very good condition and the flat has been recently redecorated.

THE VERDICT

Marie-Pierre came to see me one evening with a shortlist of six, which I viewed over one weekend.

I've now bought property number two! It's an apartment in an early 20th-century building in the sixth arrondissement. Had I done this alone I would have ended up taking around five trips to Paris and probably looked at 25-30 properties so Marie-Pierre has saved me a lot in time and expense. She helped with the negotiations, found a good lawyer and even signed for the property on my behalf. She is also arranging decoration of the flat for me so overall this has been a very happy experience!

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

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