PARIS Paris City Adviser interview: Clément Felisa

To celebrate the recent launch of our new Paris offices, who better to talk to about the passions and pitfalls of the Parisian property market than our city advisor, Clement Felisa.

PARIS

Paris City Adviser interview: Clément Felisa

To celebrate the recent launch of our new Paris offices, who better to talk to about the passions and pitfalls of the Parisian property market than our city advisor, Clement Felisa.

View from the Paris Office Athena Advisers

Talking to Clement, its tough not to get distracted by the view.  Set amongst the narrow streets of the bustling 8th arrondissment, a stone's throw from the Champs Elysées, Athena's new offices in Paris open onto a postcard perfect picture - French flag fluttering above the intricate glass windows of the Grand Palais, the eiffel tower, and on the horizon, olive forest that frames the city.  Its about as iconic as they come. While Clement laughs that he spends most of his time in the office glued to his computer, rather than gazing out the window, it certainly helps when it comes to inspiring clients. 

1. Why real estate?  

I was born in Paris and grew up as a citizen of the City of Lights, eyes always open to the beauty that surrounds me.  Every day I discover new details in the same Hausmannian facades I’ve passed for years, as if the city was constantly unfolding. It’s the chance to explore Paris, its most hidden and beautiful corners, that inspired me to work in real estate. I grew up in the west side of Paris and I have been discovering its secret corners for the last 33 years. Now I get to use this knowledge to help investors, it may sound cheesy, but I love my job. 

2. So how did you begin? 

A background in marketing for a champagne house led to training as a commercial property broker, which enabled me to explore areas of Paris that aren’t traditionally considered as residential but can have a lot of potential - very helpful when it comes to advising clients and owners about investment strategies. 

I now help clients find their ideal match amongst the myriad of lifestyles and beautiful historic buildings in Paris, but also new-builds too. Approaching property as a lifestyle choice is part of Athena’s DNA. I've been working in this city for a long time and this approach is different, a fresh take on buying property in Paris, and it's working. 

3. What are the main benefits and challenges for buyers in Paris? 

The benefits are many: Paris is the most touristic capital in the world, the conservation of its patrimony is unique, and its old soul can be felt by how few skyscrapers we have. It’s is an attractive place for investors. Compared to other leading global capitals, there are still good opportunities in terms of price and location. 

The challenge is simple: Find the property that corresponds to a desired way of life combined with a client’s personal check-list: number of square metres, period building or new-build, number of rooms, view, outside space, close to schools etc. It may seem simple, but it can take a long time, especially if searching alone. It really makes a difference to have professional advice when it comes to making that final choice.   

4. How has the market evolved in recent years and what do you forecast for the next 3-5 years? 

As an overview - Paris' ‘intra muros’ (central Paris) is only 100km² compared to New York, which is about 1200km². Paris remains stable when it comes to new developments. Only 600 or so units are built each year in the 20 arrondissements combined. In London this number is more than 20,000, therefore the supply for high-quality new properties in Paris is always greater than the demand. This is the case particularly when built in interesting locations, such as converted garages or old rail way stations like Batignolles or the Exaltis building, Porte d’Auteuil, that we offer. 

Structurally, Paris' market has always been safe, and most sellers at the top end of the market are sure to get a capital gain from one year to another. Rising prices are also driven by historically low interest rates and the decline of the euro to the dollar, boosting foreign investment. There is strong demand for 30-100m2 apartments in great locations and this market still has room to grow. 

5. What’s to love about the Paris property market, and should you watch out for? 

Buying in Paris is exciting. Every property is different, even in the same building.  You have to assess the view, the light, the layout, and the intricacies of the documentation for each building. My role is to advise on all these characteristics, which can be completely different from one building to another, even if they may look the same… 

6. Dream neighborhood to buy in, and why? 

My dream is to buy in the Ile Saint Louis and I’m not the only one - this micro market is one of the most expensive places in Paris. It’s like stepping into a different time, so quiet at night and a wonderful neighborhood to wander on foot - a village in the heart of the city. 

7. Secret tip on where to look for the best investment at the moment? 

The 16th district has wonderful apartments, many with amazing views of Paris. Investors are drawn to this area because of the presence of several high level schools, the proximity to the « Bois de Boulogne », a belt of green parks that surrounds the 16th which is really nice if you have kids. Its connection to the motorways that lead to Normandy, the North or the West countryside means you can avoid crossing Paris by car when you want to escape the city, which is really convenient. There are some great options in terms of price and location. For example, we have already sold a few apartments in a classified building which is located a 4 minute walk from Trocadero. It's still an affordable district compared to others. 

8. What’s the greatest misconception that clients have about Paris?

The beret with the french baguette and accordion players in the street ? Sorry if people still think those scenes happen in the street here because I’ve never seen this before... Maybe on Sunday in Montmartre? I think Paris is an international capital, a city that keeps its soul and its architecture with a mix of good influences. 

9. What is it about Paris that you wouldn’t trade for the world? 

A terrace in the morning to see the city awaken or to watch the night with a glass of wine. Simple, true values. 

Favorite spots for:  

A Sunday Morning? Running in the Bois de Boulogne around the two lakes. 

A Weekend Away? Normandy or Loire Valley are amazing places just a few hours from Paris. I love Etretat, the famous cliff in Normandy, and usually stay at a lovely guest-house run by a friend of mine. Or I go to Sologne in the Loire Valley, which looks like a little Canada, only woods, lakes and nice properties. The restaurant « La Grange aux oies » at Souvigny en Sologne is a really nice place to invite friends and to enjoy the outstanding cuisine from this region. 

Dinner with friends? The St Regis on the Ile Saint Louis.

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