We talk to Virginie Michau, a.k.a Mademoiselle Immo, about flat hunting with a flat hunter, buying and renting in Grenoble, and some of the particularities of finding a home in France.
Grenoble Life: Who is Mademoiselle Immo?
Virginie Michau: I have been working in the real estate market for 15 years and more particularly as flat hunter for seven years. I began to “hunt” in Paris for one of the first flat hunters in France.
Thanks to my experience and having always wanted to create my own company, I set up Mademoiselle Immo in Grenoble in September 2011. I also collaborate with agencies in London and Paris.
GL: What services do you offer?
Virginie: Mademoiselle Immo is not really an estate agency. We work for the buyer and not for the seller. Our job consists of looking for, and finding, the best accommodation for our client. That client will have already provided specifications: the budget, neighbourhood, surface area, number of rooms …
With these specifications, I look on the market for accommodation corresponding to what the client wants. If I find a match, I visit the property and prepare a report with photos and personal recommendations. If the client wants to, I can organize visits, handle the negotiation and accompany them when signing legal documents.
GL: How can you help English-speakers looking for accommodation in the Grenoble area?
Virginie: I can help English-speakers looking for accommodation using my knowledge of local property and of the French laws according to that market. Indeed, the property market is regulated with a mass of laws which are difficult to understand for the French and are therefore often incomprehensible for English speakers!
We can also help them to look for accommodation from abroad. Without having to travel, they can visit homes through their computer before arriving in Grenoble: a lot less stressful!
For English-speakers already in Grenoble, we offer a hassle-free service avoiding telephone conversations with agencies, sellers or landlords in French. They will only have to deal with one person who is dedicated to helping them.
GL: What general advice would you give English-speakers looking for a place to live in Grenoble?
Virginie: I would advise them to delegate the research to a flat hunter who will be able to give good recommendations about the area, the quality of the property in relation to their budget and other tips about French living habits. A flat hunter is the best ally if you want to rent or buy and avoid making mistakes you will later regret.
GL: What is the market like at the moment for buying property in the Grenoble area?
Virginie: The real estate market is favourable for buying with low interest rates and a large number of properties on offer. This is good if you want to negotiate! Moreover, for people who want to invest, the real estate market remains a good investment in comparison with the stock exchange or other banking investments.
GL: What is the market like at the moment for renting in Grenoble?
Virginie: There are 3,500 homes available to rent in Grenoble, which means that it is very important to give priority to the location and the quality if you are buying-to-rent. Good quality, well-located accommodation will be rented more quickly and at a higher price than the others.
GL: Having lived in London, what do you think are some of the differences between the UK and France in terms of the housing market, and what surprises await Brits arriving in France to live for the first time?
Virginie: Having lived in Grenoble in the 2000s, I remember high rents, sometimes on a per-week basis, and furnished accommodation. That is not common in France, where we normally rent by month.
What can surprise new arrivals in France are the difficulties of having the necessary documents to open a new bank account or rent a flat … the everyday functioning of these two countries is quite different!
For more info see the website: www.mademoiselle-immo.com