Who Owns Paris Real Estate?
If courtiers of the Sun King, Louis XIV, came back today they would be astonished at the changes time has wrought on the City of Light. Not only has the architectural face of Paris altered but real estate ownership has also been transformed.
According to Paris weekly l’Express, a new book* lists who owns the 87,836 buildings in the capital by arrondissement (district). It also puts a total price on Paris real estate – 700 billion euros. That’s the equivalent of Hollande’s 2012 Gross Domestic Product.
The city’s turbulent history since the Revolution has made its mark on real estate ownership. The church owned 55% of Paris before 1789; it now owns 0.3% – despite the widespread belief that the church is still a major property owner. The aristocracy owned a further 35%; now they have virtually disappeared off the radar screen. At the turn of the 20th century, powerful and wealthy families owned a staggering 90% of the city; today they have 16%. The cost of renovating old buildings has been behind the sell-off.
The French state has sold off real estate throughout France to the tune of 4.5 billion euros, 2007-12, much of it in Paris. Some of the state’s properties are national treasures but, if you could buy them, how much would you have to shell out?
- L’Elysée Palace (the President’s residence) – 1.17 billion euros.
- L’hôtel Matignon (the Prime Minister’s residence) – 1.28 billion euros.
- The Louvre Museum – 7.54 billion euros.
- Le jardin de Luxembourg – 10.35 billion euros.
Who have been the biggest winners in this mammoth Monopoly game?
The city of Paris itself owns 7,800 buildings – around 9% – and is acquiring more for social housing.
Foreign buyers have acquired prestige properties, especially in the 6th, 7th, 8th and 16th arrondissements. Sales to foreign nationals represented around 7% of real estate transactions in the capital in 2012.
The outright winners are the co-owners of apartment buildings. In 1950 there were only 6,000. Today, there are almost one million. Among them, they own 48,439 buildings – over 50% of the capital’s real estate. The authors forecast that this trend will continue.
In addition to residential real estate, some of Paris’ legendary locations have radically changed ownership, too:
- La Coupole, the Montparnasse Art Deco café that was a favorite haunt of Ernest Hemingway, was sold to Belgian billionaire Albert Frère in 1995.
- The Saudi royal family bought the fabulous hotel Crillon on the Place de la Concorde in 2010.
- Le Lido, the famous Bluebell Girls cabaret on the Champs-Elysées, formerly owned by the Clerico brothers, became the property of Qatari owners in 2012.
The book assigns each arrondissement a total price. Those with prestigious neighborhoods are, not surprisingly, worth the most. The 8th alone, which includes the sought-after Golden Triangle quarter, is worth 52 billion euros.
The 6th holds the record for the price per square meter but is worth 19 billion euros – less than the larger 7th arrondissement (38 billion). The book also cites values for certain well-known streets, such as avenue Foch in the 16th arrondissement (1.7 billion euros).
The authors’ message is that Paris is likely to become even more sought-after: good news for its million property co-owners.
*Que vaut Paris. Histoire de la propriété immobilière (How Much is Paris Worth? A History of Real Estate) by Patrice de Moncan and Gilles Ricour de Bourgies.