PROPERTY LETTER NO. 17 (a) – 9 th November 2002

Posted by admin in Property Letters | November 9th 2002

I’m going to do this letter in two parts. I need to get the information on some properties out to you urgently, and will settle down over the next few days to fill you in on developments in France over the last few weeks.
Vicky flew home to Cape Town a week ago, and I got home yesterday. We had an incredibly successful trip, and Steve and Avril are now settled in Cannes and gaining in confidence every day. I will tell you more about all of that also in the letter to follow. We now have 17 apartments in our group, and all of them bar two are in the Croisette and/or Palm Beach area of Cannes. They are all close to the centre, and the beaches, and all of them have been chosen for their rentability, i.e. with a view to earning a return on the investment in the shortest possible time.
I am going to list a few apartments which are currently on offer, or were the day before yesterday. We have stayed within the range of 80 000€ to 200 000€ until now, but some of you are leaning towards investing in something a little more ‘interesting’. So we have looked at quite a number which fall outside our normal parameters, and I have picked a couple of really good examples for people to look at. It’s interesting to get a feel for what else is on the market anyway.

In no particular order:

GOLDEN GATE.
161 000€.

Small one bedroom apartment in a very good (excellent in fact) block called ‘Golden Gate’ behind the famous Martinez hotel.
It is on the 3rd floor of the 6 storey building, and looks South West away from the sea over very attractive gardens and an immaculate pool to the hills beyond. Gets good sun.

The pool and gardens are for residents’ use, and it has a very good lockable private garage in the basement of the building. (The garage has a value of 12 – 15 000 €, and can be bought and sold separately like an apartment)
It has a lovely spacious balcony (9.5 sq.m.), quiet, with a lovely view.
It is a 1 minute walk to Rue De Antibes (the most exclusive shopping street in Cannes) and 3 a minute walk to the beach.
The flat itself is small (30m.sq) with a tiny bedroom only wide enough for a double bed, which opens onto the balcony through glass sliding doors. Electric shutters.

The living room is much roomier and also opens onto the balcony via big glass sliding doors. Electric shutters again.
Very small but immaculate and fully equipped kitchen. All appliances are in place, and new, except for a washing machine for which there is a space and plumbing is already in place.

Very nice marble bathroom, and floors throughout the flat are marble.

The flat is air conditioned and heated.

The walls are ‘papered’ with a cream tissue or material, which is effective, but mildly stained in a couple of places. If one needed or wanted to redo it, the cost would not be excessive as the surface area is quite small.
Overall impression is : small, very neat, clean, marble and cream, great balcony and pool.
160 000 is expensive for a little flat but you would be paying for position, a very good building, the only block in central Cannes (I am told) with a pool, and good rentability.
Urgency? It’s quite expensive, so I don’t think it will be snapped up overnight.

LA BRISE.

This building is 5 floors high, with 3 flats on each floor, except the ground floor which has a great little restaurant instead. All the flats are small with the layout such that the outer two flats on each floor are about 22 sq. m. with a view from the front over the Place de l’Etang, and from the back over the sea. The middle flat on each floor only has the front view over the Place and measures about 20 sq.m. The Place is very pleasant, traditional and active with restaurants around the perimeter, and ‘boulle’ played almost incessantly by the locals.

We have now bought all three flats on the top floor, of which one belongs to Vicky and I and we have enjoyed the last few weeks living in it. Now the middle flat on the 4th floor has come up for sale – the day I was leaving.
Price – 87 000€.

As with the floor above, they have increased the usable living space by glassing in the balcony with large sliding windows, so that when they are open it is very airy and the effect is still of sitting outdoors on a balcony.
But this flat needs work.

The little kitchen has been moved onto the balcony, which is a good idea and works well in other flats, but it’s tatty and needs redoing. The whole flat needs repainting and the electrics need to be sorted out.
It has a mirrored wall in the living room, which is a technique used to add a feeling of space to small apartments, and that works well, and there are good built in cupboards.

An electric awning protects the balcony.
There is a shower/loo/basin room, tiled to shoulder height, with peeling wallpaper above the tiles which needs scraping down and painting – wallpaper not such a good idea in bathrooms.

Marble floors throughout are good.

Cost of repairs and renovation – up to 10 000€ (estimate). We now have a good builder who will do this kind of work well and competitively, under Avril’s care and supervision. (See next letter for details of our arrangements re. renovations and furnishing of apartments)
Urgency? Yes. It will go quickly. If you want to try for it, let me know immediately.
I would like to offer 80 for it, and see how we do.

There is no doubt that prices of property are rising – we can see it in 7 months – but the experts tell us that the increase this year has been in the order of 15 – 20%, and the same is expected for the year ahead.

LA BRISE.

Out of interest, one of the outside flats at La Brise, on 3rd floor is also for sale, and this has been beautifully and imaginatively refurbished and furnished. It is very interesting to see what can be done in a very small space. They have used quality fittings throughout with great thought and consideration. It has a lovely little kitchen, bathroom, and all mod cons – electric awnings and shutters, and even the use of narrower doors (like in a boat) to give more space to walls. However the price is 147 000€ which is crazy for such a small flat, and it could not have cost 50 000€ to make it over. It is probably worth 115 000€ and one could always offer in that region and see what happens. It’s beautiful.

RUE d’ANTIBES.
Price – 549 000€.

You pay for luxury, position and space.

This flat is 90 sq.m. of beautifully renovated apartment on the Champs Elysse of Cannes. It is a few minutes walk from the Palais des Festival, and some of the ‘chicest’ beaches and restaurants and night spots in Europe. It can certainly command serious rentals during peak times. I have no doubt at all as to its value as an investment, but I do not know how it will fare in terms of rentability – maybe not badly at all.

The flat is on 3rd floor of a very good building. The large mirrored entrance hall gives onto a very large living room which overlooks the Rue d’Antibes, and then across rooftops of different ages (historically) to the hills beyond.

The hall, living room and kitchen section have lovely marble floors with inlaid decoration, and recessed spotlights with dimmers light all the rooms.
The living room has one large window and a French door onto a small balcony (over the Rue d’Antibes), and the balcony railing is historic and lacy in design – charming.

All windows and doors throughout the flat are double glazed against sound and weather, and the whole flat is air conditioned (hot and cold). Electric shutters throughout.

The kitchen is spacious and also has a view across Rue d’Antibes, rooftops and hills. It is fully equipped with brand new quality equipment, including microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, hob and oven, etc.

Immediately off the entrance hall is a loo and basin.

Both bedrooms have brand new and very beautiful parquet floors, and are lined with a hand made, woven wall paper in a wheat colour. Both bedrooms look away from the Rue d’Antibes, across quiet and charming old rooftops in some disrepair to the Grand Hotel on the Croisette.

Both bedrooms have a bathroom en suite, with marble basins, large mirrors, and marble tiling.

The whole flat is generously endowed with very attractive and spacious cupboards with very high quality fittings.

Serious property.

A PLACE IN A VILLAGE.
“LA FONCIERE”

Price – 134 000€
The little village of VALBONNE only 20 minutes from the centre of Cannes (at low traffic times) is charming, with some of the best known restaurants in the region. It is a mix of little pedestrian streets, dating from every period in the last 1000 years, with a buzzing little town square and a couple of pretty churches. It is on the ‘next hill’ to the equally well known village of Mougins.
The house in question is little (50 sq.m. excluding staircases) but has two bedrooms, and was refurbished 5 years ago under a government grant to preserve historic buildings.

It was built in stone in 18th Century on the corner of two streets, so is very narrow. It faces a plaza with trees.
It starts with a staircase winding up to the 1st floor living room and kitchen all in one. The kitchen has some modern appliances but needs some work to get it to where it should be. The floors are of old red hexagonal tiles from the area (some cracked but characterful), and the roof is a lattice work of beautifully exposed dark wooden beams. The walls are rough plastered with a large part of one wall cleverly stripped of plaster to expose the rough stone work below. The old and rustic wooden window frames throughout have been double glazed against the sounds from the street and the weather.
You continue up the winding staircase to the entrance to 3 rooms.

Small bedroom on the right has two kinds of rough plastering, one open cupboard, and a floor of red hexagon tiles. Wood and white plaster ceilings.
Bathroom in the centre right is also tiled, has bath, basin and loo, and needs a bit of sprucing up on walls and ceiling. Big hot water geyser on ground floor is brand new, and plumbing has been redone new.

Main bedroom on the left overlooks the plaza across the road, and the old town of Valbonne. Huge beams form a star shape below the ceiling. All windows are double glazed and shuttered. Tiling again.

The ground floor is a shop (driving school). No floors above – that’s it.
Rentability – no problem in summer, but I don’t know for the rest of the year. May be allright.
Urgency – yes. It will go fast.

FLEURIS.
Price – 129 000€ (offer 120 000)

One bedroom apartment on 7th floor of a 7 storey building.

Very good smart building, also just behind the Martinez – a couple of minutes from Rue d’Antibes, and from the beaches.
Flat looks West across rooftops to the hills beyond. Very open and lovely view from a large (10sq.m.) balcony. The balcony needs to be refurbished (paint and awnings).

The flat is 39sq.m. and consists of a reasonable bedroom and largish sitting room. Both open onto the balcony.
The kitchen is a mess and needs stripping and redoing.

Bathroom likewise needs work.

I would recommend stripping all walls of wallpaper, and sorting flat out properly for 15 – 20 000€.
A good refurbishment would give you a very desirable and valuable flat in a great position for under 150 000€.
Flat comes with a parking space under the building (worth 12 000€) and a cellar.
Urgency – yes.

VILLA LERINS.
Price – 124 000€ (they wanted 132, and have dropped to 124, and could go slightly lower)

Largish 3rd floor studio flat (28 sq.m.) with a large balcony with lovely sea view in the Palm Beach area at the eastern end of the Croisette. It looks eastward towards Antibes and Cap d’Antibes, and backs but opens towards the Place de l’Etang.

The beach is 100m away, and the centre of the Croisette less than a 10 minute walk.

One of our group have already bought a flat, which is identical, right next door.

It is absolutely finished – nothing to do other than furnish it.

The block of Villa Lerins is a very well kept, good building.

Rentability – very good we think, and we already have bought 6 apartments around the Place de l’Etang.

Urgency – yes, it will sell quite quickly.

The owner is insisting on some (I think about 15 000, may get away with 10) in cash. We try to avoid this annoying but fairly common practice if we can because in trying to avoid a bit of capital gains tax, the seller is simply passing his problem on to the next owner. Sometimes however, you can’t get away from it.
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There you have it. If any of you have an interest in any of these please give me a ring pretty urgently?

011 202 193 (from outside – 00 263 11 202 193)
00 27 (0)21 434 0554
Property letter 17(b) will follow in a few days.
All the best to all of you.
Guy.

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