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How to visit an apartment in Paris

Buying an apartment in Paris is such an exciting project. It is also a challenging one, especially when you are not familiar with Paris, and requires you to know a few essential “basics”.

This article provides the main points to check when visiting an apartment for the first time. We hope that it will help you make the right decision.

1/Your list of your criteria:

First, you need to draw up the list of your criteria, such as neighborhood (Read our article on Paris arrondissements), style of building (old or modern-style), level (the highest is often brighter), number of rooms, exposure, planned refurbishment and decoration works, parking space…

Rare are the apartments that will meet all your criteria at once. Therefore, it is important that you rank them in priority. It is worth taking time to consider which points are essential to you and make a short-list.

2/Have a first tour of the neighborhood:

Once you have selected an area, a walking tour of the immediate surrounding area will give you the opportunity to locate shops and supermarkets. You will also get essential information on the neighborhoods such as restaurants, green areas, transportation… You should also visit the area at different times of the day and week. Staying in a hotel or renting, for a short period, an apartment could be a good option to feel the atmosphere of the area.

3/The building:

Paris is famous for the its beautiful buildings. The most iconic are the Haussmann-style constructions, built from 1870 to early 20th century at a time when major planning projects had been carried out to modernize the city. In the center of Paris, especially in the Marais area, many buildings date from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Beyond the elegant style of these buildings, the period of construction should prompt you to get valuable information on the edifice solidity. This includes the state of the floors, load bearing walls and bottom as well. When the immovable is held in co-ownership or condominium, you should read the minutes of co-ownership meetings to identify any structural or waterproof problem.

Furthermore, it would be useful to ask when was performed the last restoration of both facades and roof. If the building is fitted with a lift, check if the use supplies the legal required standards.

Ideally, you could request the help of a trusted party in the search of your apartment. We would be pleased to offer this service

4/Co-ownership and building maintenance:

Most of Parisian buildings are owned jointly by individual owners under the status of co-ownership.

In the commonhold system, the building is divided into condominium units. Each of them includes two components which are legally linked: privately owned areas (apartment, cellar…) and a share calculated as a proportion of commonly owned areas and facilities (stairs, …).

The good maintenance of the communal areas condition is a crucial component of a property value.

In this respect, close attention needs to be paid to the good state of the main building entrance as to the intrusion protection (digital code, intercom…). Having a building caretaker (concierge) implies additional costs but provides you with higher standard (cleaning, package delivery, etc.) and additional security. Also, check if waste sorting is already implemented.

Among the information that must be provided by the seller, the minutes of the co-owners’ annual meetings mention the annual budget for the maintenance, repair, and management of the building. It can never be too recommended to review it carefully. Major repairs of the building constitute specific and sometimes expensive expenditures.

5/Privately owned areas:

Once you have done the preliminary checks, move on to the next step with the apartment that you would like to visit. The following are the points to keep in mind when visiting for the first time.

Pay attention to the access to the apartment. The entrance hall is the first room of an apartment. It is important to have a welcoming space that gives you the freedom to be decorated to your taste. Check if the door is armored, and if not, check if you can have it done later.

Make sure that the natural lighting is fully satisfactory, especially in the living rooms. Bring a compass and make up your own idea. South, west or east facing rooms are more luminous although warmer in summertime than north-facing rooms.

To protect your privacy, check that windows provide a view at distance from the neighborhood. Windows also may need refurbishment or to be replaced to improve acoustic and thermal insulation. Keep in mind the high costs of replacing windows.

To follow up to the insulation, it helps to know that the seller must provide the DPE (Diagnostic de performance énergétique). This energy performance certificate focuses on energy efficiency ranking from A to G. It should however be noted that Haussmann style apartments are usually not classified more than D or C.

Apartment condition and layout:

It could be useful to have a snapshot of the flat condition and to start listing the major works to be carried out. Make enquiries about how old electrics and plumbing are. Check if there is any evidence of leaks and any cracks on the walls. About heating, ask if it is an individual or community one also if it is an oil, gas, or electrical heating system. Get information about its condition.

If you have just found the apartment of your dreams, ensure that the apartment layout combines with your criteria. For instance, check if there is space for a dining area in the kitchen or for enough storage. Also ensure that bathrooms are close to bedrooms or that bathrooms are well ventilated.

In this respect, it is important to be aware that in a co-ownership building, changing the structural layout requires written authorization from the other co-owners. It is the very reason why it is appropriate to check if the current layout meets your refurbishment project. To help you, ask for a layout plan that you will mark up on your first visit.

6/Mandatory information to the buyer:

In France, many mandatory documents must be provided by the seller. Those documents will be appended to sale and purchase agreement and deed of sale as well. They, whatever, must be provided before the completion of the sale. They are a legal responsibility of the seller.

The following non-exhaustive list shows some examples of those documents.

Surveys and reports called collectively DDT (Dossier de diagnostics techniques) offer a valuable information of the apartment condition (surface, electricity, plumbing, DPE…)

If the building is under the co-ownership status, minutes of all co-owners’ meetings on the last 3 years as the commonhold regulation are a helpful information.

It is your challenge, with the help of professionals as the notary, to review all provided documents.

As a conclusion, we hope that this article was useful. We wish you the best of luck in finding your dream flat. Please note that we would be glad to offer you our assistance and help you finding your home as a licensed real estate agent. You can also ask for our tailored management services of your property.

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