If truth be told, I started writing this blog with the overly optimistic title, “How to make an offer.” But unfortunately, a couple of days into the offer process I realized I’d have to change it to, “How NOT to make an offer,” as I stumbled along making mistakes at every turn. I guess this is what it’s all about: learning to perfect the tricky process of pursuing the dream. I’m happy to share the good with the bad, and hoping that anyone who is accompanying me on this journey will benefit from learning about both. So this is what happened …
Although I’ve been trying other neighborhoods in Paris, I keep coming back to the familiar 7th arrondissement, yearning for a view of the Eiffel Tower, and a fabulous food fix on the rue Cler. So when a listing with this image popped up on my radar, I jumped at it. In fact, knowing the competitive Paris real estate market, and realizing that I would lose it if I didn’t make a full price offer immediately, I did that – even though the price seemed a little high. However views like this don’t come around very often, and so I figured it was worth it, even though it was priced too high for the size, location (and I later learned, architectural style). I knew that this was not a charming older apartment with high ceilings, moldings and lovely floors. But this one had a secret weapon in addition to the killer view: A small terrace and the possibility of a roof garden! So when I weighed that against the price, it seemed like a fair trade, and I reassured myself that this was the right move.
I didn’t have much to go by with the pictures of the interior, which were boring and nondescript. But all I needed was a floorplan to figure out that this could be turned into a great little mid-century modern apartment with dark high gloss floors, a sleek little hi-tech kitchen, a nice little balcony and a sexy spiral staircase leading to an imagined roof garden. That was enough for me: My offer was accepted and I hopped on the next plane to visit the apartment and seal the deal.
Here was the first and probably costliest mistake: if I had honed my google map skills and studied the information available (for free!) on the internet, I would have known before purchasing the plane ticket that this apartment was not for me. I would have realized, first off, that this part of the rue de l’Universite is not the charming “Rue de Loo” that Julia Child lived on and raved about. I would have figured out that most of the apartments surrounding this one were actually towering over it, so that even if we had been able to put in a roof garden (a big if, of course), we may have ended up sitting in a proverbial fishbowl. I would have noticed that there were actually higher buildings between this apartment and the Eiffel tower, blocking the view from all but a sliver in the living room. And finally, I would have known that buildings built in the 1960’s are less valuable than the pre-1900’s so that the price I had quickly agreed to was at least 10% too high for the area.
But this was my first offer, and I was still learning the rules. So imagine my surprise, after I had spent a small fortune on a plane ticket and hotel accommodation, and thought I was going to find this:
But actually in reality, the view looked like this:
It was a little better from the balcony but still not what I had bargained for:
Although probably would have quite stunning at night, when the Eiffel tower does its scintillating show.
View to the North
Please don’t get me wrong: This is a nice apartment, and someone will be very happy living here because it’s in a safe, convenient location, and the building is well kept and completely quiet (for which people pay a huge premium in Paris). It’s just not the right apartment for me. Much as I’ve tried to fall in love with a newer building, imagining a sleek neutral decor and a mix of modern and antiques, it just isn’t going to work. My dream apartment is a mixture of Louis and Coco, with moldings, fireplace and creaky zig zag wooden floors (and gorgeous modern art!). It all goes back to my first real visit to Paris when I was fourteen, and we stayed at the Hotel du Duc de St. Simon. Something about the windows, the floors, the hardware, the narrow hallways, the molding and the views: That’s my fantasy and I’m sticking to it!
Meanwhile, as I was stumbling along in the buying process, I had a little panic attack as I desperately needed to get out of my signed and accepted offer, for which I had already wired a significant sum of money. But luckily for me, French law is very much on the side of the buyer, and there are several “outs” before you actually have to commit. At this point, all I had committed was a big faux pas, which cost me nothing more than a plane ticket, a hotel room and several people’s wrath. With little more than a letter of apology, I could walk away from the deal free and clear.
And walk is quite literally what I did, for the rest of my stay in Paris. I figured that if I was “stuck” in Paris for a few days, I would spend the time productively, familiarizing myself with every nook and cranny in the neighborhood. So for three days, I walked up and down the streets, taking in the architecture, the cafes and shops and the views, measuring the exposure to sunlight (yes, I do this!), the distance from the Metro, and the proximity to the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. I covered every square inch of every street that runs East of the Eiffel tower, South of the Seine, and NorthWest of Les Invalides. I have immersed myself in the the good, the bad and the ugly, and I knew just where I want to live, which, in fact, is just right around the corner. …
Stay tuned for “Hurt by the Spam Filter” – next week!