Archive for May, 2008

TWTWTW – This Was the Week That Was!

May 16, 2008

I am probably dating myself, but a long time ago, there was a TV show called “That Was the Week That Was”, a parody on the week’s recent events.

Well, for me, this was the week that was, and simply because of the convergence of two articles regarding our company, Paris Home Shares LLC, and what we are trying to accomplish with fractional ownership in Paris. It was mind-boggling.

First, our company was highlighted by longtime journalist and Paris newsletter publisher, Adrian Leeds, on her weekly newsletter called Parler Paris.  She focused on our development of an apartment in the Marais, which coincidentally, her property team had found for us 8 months prior.  With the renovation of the apartment complete, and only a few shares remaining to sell, she said many nice things about us to her readership, and we were barraged by e-mails expressing interest in the property.

The next day, Wednesday, the NY Times ran an article on Paris Home Shares LLC, again doing a photo feature on the same property, which we call Jardin Saint-Paul.  Instantly, my e-mailbox gained 50 pounds, and the barrage became a steady avalanche of requests.  Clearly, there is a lot of pent up demand for quality property at a reasonable price, particularly in this economic climate, and especially in high priced cities like Paris.

It is now Friday afternoon, and my ears feel like cantaloupes and my fingers are sore from responding to all of the inquiries.  Yet, this weekend, I feel a little happier that a lot more people know and like what we are trying to accomplish.  On top of that, Jardin Saint-Paul is now sold out, with 12 happy Owners, and Chez La Tour, our newest project, rapidly appears to be heading in the same direction.

If you would like to read the NY Times article, just click here.

Now, I am waiting for the next shoe to drop, as our company will again be featured in the top British travel magazine Homes Overseas in their June issue.

Pending Price Increase – Chez La Tour

May 6, 2008

As is my usual policy, upon completion of Chez La Tour on July 1, 2008, we will be increasing the price of a one month share to 115,000€.  Paris Home Shares has always been the low cost leader in Paris fractional ownerships, offering more time and larger units for substantially less money than any of our competition.  Even with  the pending increase, we remain priced substantially below units offered by our competition on a per square foot basis.  In addition, our annual dues are still the lowest in the industry, reflecting our continuing efforts to provide true value and cost transparency to our Owners.  Please do not hesitate to contact me for a list of available months at steve@navaro.com.

Chez La Tour Update

May 6, 2008

As many of my readers know, we are in the process of renovating our latest fractional ownership offering in Paris which we have named Chez La Tour.  Things are moving along according to schedule, and our goal is to have the unit ready for occupancy on July 1, 2008.  There are lots of photos of the work in progress on my website, and you can watch as the work unfolds and things to to take shape. To see the photos, just visit www.parishomeshares.net/chezlatour.html and follow the links to the renovation photos.

Our first annual meeting of the Owners will be held on May 31st at our home in Denver, CO.  At this meeting, we will be ratifying the Operating Agreement for the Partnership, voting on our annual budget, and passing out keys to the apartment for all of the Owners.  This has always been one of the fun parts of what we do, and it is equally exciting for each of the Owners to meet each other and to swap stories of their adventures in Paris.

In addition to the work on our apartment, the building itself is scheduled for a “ravalement” or exterior stone cleaning, this summer.  This is a mandatory requirement of all buildings in Paris to help combat the cumulative effects of pollution, and is the primary reason why so many of the buildings in Paris look as good today as the day they were built a century or two ago.

Chateau at Chantilly

May 6, 2008

Chateau at Chantilly 

One of the lesser known and certainly lesser frequented sites outside of Paris is the Domaine du Chantilly. While it is not the equal of the Chateau at Versailles, it’s splendor is quite fantastic, and you will not have to deal with hordes of people.  In fact, when we visited, there were fewer than 50 people viewing the entire chateau.

How to get there:  Take the RER from Gare du Nord.  The town of Chantilly is about 30 minutes by train, north of Paris.  From the town train station, you can either take an expensive taxi ride (6-8€) or a leisurely 15-20 minute walk to the castle.  Take the free guided tour of the apartments located within the castle, and you can download the audioguide from their website, http://www.chateaudechantilly.com.  You can also tour the magnificent gardens and the equally breathtaking Equestrian Center, the largest in the world, which was a virtual chateau dedicated solely to housing the Duke’s show horses.

Boat Trips on the Seine

May 5, 2008

 Boat Cruise

We had the opportunity to take a boat trip on the Seine, through Bateaux Parisiens, with some friends from Denmark during our stay in Paris.  Their nighttime dinner cruise, although expensive, has in the past been a wonderful way to see the nightlights of Paris, albeit a little touristy.

This time it was not to be.

This past April, the Seine has been running at unusually high levels.  it may still be true.  What that means for boat cruise operators, particularly Bateaux Parisiens, is that they cannot operate their boats when the water level is high, because they do not have the clearance to get under the many bridges in Paris. They did not bother to tell us that when we booked our cruise, so instead of seeing Notre Dame, the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay etc. in all their nighttime glory, the boat headed out of Paris towards Boulogne.  We actually had the opportunity to see where all of the industrial concrete plants and other waterside industrial facilities (the underbelly of Paris) are located.  Hmm.. that isnt exactly what we paid for.  Upon realizing that we were not going to see Paris, the boat supervisor on board said “You weren’t told when you boarded?  There is nothing I can do.  I hope you enjoyed your meal.”

Moral of the story:  Don’t plan a river cruise if the water levels are high in Paris that day, and absolutely verify that you are going to see what you paid good money to see.

It’s Been a Long Time Gone

May 5, 2008

For those of you wondering why there have been a dearth of postings here lately, well… I’ve been in Paris for the last month busily purchasing furnishings for our latest fractional project, Chez La Tour, overseeing the renovation work, and trying to squeeze in the odd afternoon to play tourist. However, I am back home now, with lots of stuff to comment on, so hopefully my posting frequency will increase.

I can tell you without a doubt, that visitors to Paris this summer will have to definitely deal with sticker shock.  And it is not just that the dollar is lower against the euro.  Food prices have climbed between 10-20% in euros since I visited last November.  I would attribute this (mostly) to the recent dramatic rise in food costs worldwide, although some recent European reports on the phenomenon have indicated that only about 50% of the price increase can be attributed to actual increases in the cost of materials and supplies.

In November, one could easily find “fixed prix” menus throughout town in the 15-17€ range for lunch.  Today, 19-22€ is the price for the same lunch.  Dinners are more expensive by the same ratio.  Wine, which used to be a relatively cheap beverage in paris, now will set you back 5-7€ for a 14cl glass of house wine, and trust me, there isn’t 14cl in the glass.

The saving grace for us was that we could afford to stay a month in Paris because we were staying in our 1 bedroom fractional ownership apartment, which cost us 890€ for an entire month (read $47US per night). If we had rented a similar apartment (with lesser quality furnishings) it would have cost 200-250€ per night and a similarly equipped hotel room would have been 400€ per night (if such a thing existed).

Yes, you may say, but look at what you had to invest to get that. True enough.  When we bought that fractional in 2006, the dollar was at $1.28/euro, not $1.60.  And Paris prices were 22% lower.  How many people can say that their American real estate (or stock) investments have fared that well? Not many.