Navigating the real estate scene in France can be tricky — even more so when you are unfamiliar with the labyrinthine bureaucracy and unusual quirks the French can be known for. Adrian Leeds, who specializes in helping Americans negotiate the market to secure their dream pied-à-terres in France, just recently ventured into the market in Nice. She shares a few anecdotes from her colorful experiences here. -Geneviève
The beach in Nice: Marisa Williams
Years ago I set my eye on the goal of purchasing a “pied-à-terre” in Nice for a long list of reasons:
1. Nice is nice. Let’s face it, it’s the Riviera, the Côte d’Azur, the land of the rich and famous with the blue Mediterranean Sea, balmy weather, palm trees and Italian flavor. What could be so bad?
2. Property in Nice and its environs is increasing in value on a steady basis. With an international airport and an active port, the blue coast is France’s second hotspot after Paris. This makes Nice, and just about all of the coast, an excellent real estate investment.
Nice – Marisa Williams
3. R and R…the moment one lands at Nice’s contemporary and easy airport, and you head toward Nice down the Promenade des Anglais under the swaying palms with the sea at your side, the stress just melts away. Traveling to Nice from Paris is fast and inexpensive, making weekend getaways about as easy as it gets — a perfect antidote to the cold, gray, rainy winters in Paris.
4. Rental potential of vacation apartments, particularly for the North American market, is ripe for business. While the British and Italians are well served by their own compatriots, Americans have been overlooked. Americans want and expect a higher standard of luxury and service than their European counterparts know how to provide. From a business perspective, Nice was looking awfully nice.
Cute streets in old Nice Marisa Williams
But, I discovered that doing business in Nice isn’t so nice. The Niçois have their own way of doing things, very different from Parisian style, and that takes some getting used to. After a few rough bumps, I decided that the fifth reason for purchasing there was, in fact, to pave the way for Americans and to protect them along the way, allowing the burden to rest on my shoulders instead of on theirs.
In one personal situation where the purchase was retracted during the 7-day cooling-off period known as the “délai de rétractation,” instead of hoping to recuperate the loss of the purchase by offering more properties (an American approach to keeping the client), the seller’s agency actually issued a letter in writing saying: “Dear Madam, We do not believe at all in your good intentions and are sure that even if we had business to propose, we would propose it to everyone but you. Good riddance!”
Nice – buildings and passageways: D’Alk; Julieta Alvarez
In another, the Notaire representing the seller became exasperated with the final negotiations between buyer and seller and actually refused to stay and assist her client, leaving both the buyer and seller on their own to complete a few final decisions and review the complicated pre-sale agreement without her mediation, stating, “When you’re ready, I’ll send in my secretary for you to sign!” (Isn’t it her job to be legal advisor and mediator!?)
In yet another, after receiving a full-price offer in writing by a willing buyer, the seller tried to reduce his capital gains tax from the sale by claiming to have another buyer willing to pay him cash ‘under the table’ — an illegal transaction in France. While this is done, it’s not so openly ‘tossed around,’ given its illegal implications.
The main beach by the Promenade des Anglais in Nice: Erica Berman
Recounting these trials and tribulations is not meant to scare the would-be buyer, but to emphasize that an investment can be made in Nice with great confidence, as long as it’s done with professional help that acts on behalf of the buyer to protect him or her.
After much deliberation and trial and error, I’ve purchased an apartment in Nice, in the district known as the “Carré d’Or” — just a short walk to the beach on a pedestrian street of the city’s chicest shops. One of our clients is purchasing the adjacent apartment and by the end of 2011, we will have two luxury apartments to accommodate a total of 10 people in a beautiful “bourgeois” building ready to accept guests.
This is just the beginning of a new and exciting adventure on the Blue Coast of France.
The famous Promende des Anglais walkway in Nice: Erica Berman
- HiP Paris friend Rosa Jackson, a Nicoise herself, shares one of Nice’s most typical dishes: the Pissaladière
- Tartelette has another recipe of a typical dish of the region, Les Petits Farcis
- If you are interested in buying in Nice, feel free to get in touch with Adrian directly at [email protected]