Why don't we buy a house? That's what we have been dreaming of. My wife triggered this question and we got into it. We had no idea even if it's feasible or not because we're living in a foreign country and there are so many things that we don't know about. One thing led to another and here we are. We put an offer on a house and the owner has accepted it. All we have now is a long journey of prepping documents and getting a loan from the bank. 👩 Her part When it comes to things like this, each of us has very distinct roles and responsibilities. My wife who used to be a designer has a great set of eyes and an organization skill of Monica Geller. She searched for suburban cities and list them down. She searches for transportation from the city center to Paris. She checks the reviews about the city on ville-ideale.fr. And she goes to seloger.com and searches for houses and apartments in those cities. Normally there are 4-5 photos per property poorly taken by realtors but surprisingly she captured very important points about the properties from the pictures. Look at this corner of the picture. This house has this and that problem in the kitchen. You'll see what I mean when we visit here. Without exaggeration, she has checked about 1,000 properties on seloger.com and filtered down to 92. She sent messages to those 92, mainly saying "I am interested but I don't speak French, so please send me SMS so that I can use Google Translator". Whenever she sent a message to a property, she put it on airtable.com with some information including "rates", ranging from 1 to 5 stars. 👨 My part Then I made phone calls to them because they don't just send me messages diligently. Whenever they reached back to me, I save the contact with "<Airtable rowId> - <City>" format. That's what we use to identify when we talk about properties. I tried to make appointments geographically adjacent in each day. We intensively spent a little longer than two weeks. Sometimes we viewed 4 houses in a day. During the 11 days, we walked for about 118 kilometers. 🍀 Budget We preferred a house but keep an eye on apartments too. Our budget was 350k euro and was not easy to find houses which doesn't require much of renovation. 🌊 92 properties Chatou: 2 apartments and 1 house Chaville: 2 apartments Colombes: 4 apartments and 1 house Cormeilles-en-Parisis: 3 apartments and 3 houses Courbevoie: 1 apartment Eaubonne: 2 apartments and 5 houses Épinay-sur-Orge: 1 house Ermont: 3 apartments and 7 houses Garches: 2 apartments Joinville-le-Pont: 1 apartment L'étang-la-Ville: 2 apartments Maisons-Laffitte: 2 apartments Marley-le-Roi: 4 apartments Montmorency: 1 apartment Nogent-sur-Marne: 3 apartments Noisy-le-Grand: 5 apartments and 5 houses Saint-Maur-des-Fossés: 1 apartment Villennes-sur-Seine: 4 apartments and 1 house Viroflay: 2 apartments Conflans-Sainte-Honorine: 9 houses 🌈 Status We didn't go: 3 Visited: 14 Already sold: 11 🚶Visit🚶♀️ Conflans-Sainte-Honorine Cormeilles-en-Parisis Eaubonne Ermont Épinay-sur-Orge Garches Noisy-le-Grand Villennes-sur-Seine ⭐️ Rating ⭐️: 4 ⭐️⭐️: 27 ⭐️⭐️⭐️: 35 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: 6 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️: 1 Surprisingly my wife's rating was very correct. Minji: What do you think of this one? Me: Umm. This is better than the previous one but less good than the one before. Minji: Yeah it's because we're visiting 4-star, 2-star, and 3-star houses today. And we've got the 5-star house 🏡 What is it like? It's a house built in 1964 by a married couple. They gave birth to children and have lived here forever. Their children are now in their 40s-50s. The old couple now has moved out to a smaller place. The children were like What do we do with the house? We cannot sell it because it's where we were born and grew up. But finally, they have decided to sell it and we're going to be the second owner of this house 56 years after its construction. The house is very well maintained. All the wooden ceilings are clean. The floors are quite good. The narrow space under the roof is clean. Even the garage is so clean and not humid at all. No hint of fungus at all. It's not just an old house but a house that has been loved and maintained by someone like my wife. In a certain aspect, the house gives us this feeling that we need to preserve this as if it's a historic building. We won't tear things down so easily. The realtor explained to us like This was built in xxx, and this second floor was built when they gave birth to their third kid. They changed these windows in the 1990s, ... We will continue it and hope the next owner will hear stories like The second owner, a married couple from Korea loved this house so much. Check this out. You can see how they cared much.
We went to view a house. It was € 332k. The bank told me they can lend me up to € 300k, so this house is out of my budget but we decided to just visit and see what happens. The size and the structure of this house was good but the condition was really bad and it required a heavy renovation. The realtor didn't speak English much. We used Google translator back and forth which works well. We didn't like the fact that we need to renovate too much but I asked what's the process if we decide to buy. She said we should propose the price first. She also said we should lower the price than the one written on the website because of the renovation. I had no idea how much it costs in France. Of course it'd depend on how much you want to rip it off and renovate it but I just didn't have any idea at all. She said if she were to buy it, it'd cost € 100k for renovation and she'd propose € 220k for the house. The price written on the website was 332k but she's talking about 220k. She said the owner will decline that low price but will likely accept it in the end, considering the cost for the renovation. She also told us we could come back with a professional constructor to get a more precise quote on the cost of renovation which can be useful for the negotiation with the owner. She showed us on the phone another house she's selling. It didn't require much of renovation. In that case it's hard to lower the price. So it kind of gave us the idea on how we can negotiate.
Here I list things I read & watch, or things to read & watch. This post will be updated as I progress. Already read & watched What are Mortgages?: I wanted to check if the mortgage works the same way as it did in Korea. To read & watch Cost of buying a house : Conveyancing fees Buying property in France Calculate real estate purchase fees Renting vs. Buying a Home: The 5% Rule: I definitely want to buy, but let's watch this.
I've contacted my banker (I'm using BNP Paribas) to ask questions about purchasing a house and borrowing money for that. She sent me this form, so I filled it in and sent it back to her. I haven't heard from her yet. And I need to compare the conditions with other banks too. Banks to contact: Boursorama (They have a simulator) I should probably use a broker to get the best rate.
All the things I say here is just my personal opnion and just because of my preference. No offense to some of the areas, nor to the people who live there. Argenteuil We've found lots of houses for great price. That's not normal, right? We've checked ville-ideale and saw bad reviews on the area. I heard the security is bad also in Bezons. So I'll skip here. Ermont & Eaubonne This two cities are right next to each other. In the search result, Eaubonne had more houses while Ermont had more apartments. The overall price is much better than where I currently live (La Garenne-Colombes). The train J line goes directly to Paris. So we visited the area today (25 Jul). We walked a lot. And we love there already. There are Auchan and Intermarché (blue marks) and the red ones are the marché that open twice or three times a week. We went to Saint Flaive Market today and it was quite big and very active. They're small and quiet cities. I wish there are a little more restaurants but not a deal breaker. From ville-ideale, I saw reviews saying airplain noise. And while we were there, we actually saw airplanes flying over our head quite closely. When we lived in Singapore, we lived in an area where jets flew nearby all the time. It was okay. Not a deal breaker, either. Sartrouville It looked okay when we looked into the area online. As soon as we got out of the train station, the vibe wasn't right for us. We like old and country-like vibe, but we felt like it was somewhat abandoned. We didn't spend too much time exploring the area and decided to visit other area. Cormeilles-en-Parisis Not sure why "transportation" is rated so low there because it has J line directly connected to Paris Saint Lazare. When we explored, we fell in love with this area. All the neighborhood and the houses were so beautiful. It felt more like a country side than a suburb, but with a good transportation to the city center. There is a marcheé every Wednesday and Saturday as well as Auchan. My wife even said As long as we move into this area, I can lower my expectation for the house. Épinay-sur-Orge The atmosphere around Gare d'Épinay-Sur-Orge was not good. We walked to the house for about 20 minutes and along the way, we felt like it was not a well maintained place. It was quite, things looked very old, not active, etc. We liked the house but didn't like several small aspects (for example, not many markets around). Noisy-le-Grand It was not appealing around Bry-sur-Marne station (red). However, the residence area (blue) near Marne was calm and nice. And in the center of the town (green), there seem to be many restaurants, markets, etc. We should've visited there, but didn't know then. And We haven't been to the Gare de Noisy-le-Grand (purple) either. We quite like it there but the price of the house is slightly out of our budget. We've discussed with the realtor and the suggested some number, but we cannot afford it. We'll see if we can get a bigger loan, but don't have a high hope. (I'm gonna try pretto.fr to see if they can manage to negotiate it.) Other places to take a look I need to research on these places online first. Montmorency Enghein I will keep this post updated.
We're looking for a quiet neighborhood big kitchen a little garden where we can grow what we want to eat our bedroom a room for work a guest room enough space for storage marché nearby one or two supermarkets nearby a train station in 1.5km preferably house over apartment a house that doesn't look like it's built recently (so that I can have the experience of living in an old French house) How we're looking for them I don't know yet how much money I can borrow from the bank. But I'm searching for houses with € 350k limit on https://www.seloger.com/ and it helps me understand which area has more properties on sale. I'm reading lots of reviews from https://www.ville-ideale.fr/. I don't trust them 100% but to me it seems quite trustworthy. We got help from the website when we first moved into France. We're listing down some areas after cross referencing between seloger and ville-ideale. We will visit some of the places to see how it really looks like. The atmosphere, the streets, the cafes, the restaurants, etc. And I heard it's good to search for the city names in http://leparisien.fr/ to get ideas on what's going on there.
It's been a year and half since my wife and I have moved to France. In the beginning of this year, we've sold an apartment we had in Korea. It gives us some money to invest on something. We were interested in real estate. I made an appointment with my bank for consultation, and... covid-19 happened. Some months later, we've recently started this investigation again. I met the realtor who helped us get this apartment where we live right now. I asked them a bunch of questions. Then, I called my banker to ask more questions. I asked my banker a quote on the loan I could get. I haven't received it. If it turns out to be not feasible, then this whole plan will just stop. But, let's not think about it. We have two options: Buy an apartment or house and move in. Buy something and get a tenant. If we choose (1), we can sell it any time and pay much less tax compared to (2), but if we choose (2), we will pay lots of tax (we possess two residences). The amount of tax we pay depends on how many years we hold it before selling it. It's always very important to get good tenants. Otherwise, 😰... I need to calculate numbers but if (2), I'm worried about tax and it won't be little. If so, I should just invest it back in Korea, but it troubles me too much because I don't live there anymore and I cannot fly back and forth easily. But somehow we've been focusing on (2). And a couple of days ago, my wife asked: Why aren't we considering (1) enough? Right. It's been a year and half and I kind of didn't want to move again. So I kind of erased that option from my mind. But we always have wanted our own place where we can do whatever we want, without having to worry about owner. And since we adopted our cat, we've wanted a house with a little garden where we can grow things and our cat can play around. Okay, let's forget about making profit. I do need to calculate numbers whenever my banker gets back to me, but we feel confident about spending our money to make the life happen earlier which we wanted to have in the future. We can invest and buy a house with the interest in couple of years. But we can just spend some money and start living the life early. That sounds like us. Another reason why we're talking about this now is, recently we've agreed that we want to live in France at least for 5 more years. So we've started planning the future 5 years in France. Of course, the next post can be "Oh, it turns out we cannot buy one." 😅 But, just in case, let me keep a log of stuff as much as I can.