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House Hunting in … Monaco | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Media ID: 55378081

Rebecca Marshall for The New York Times

Monaco – This renovated one-bedroom apartment is on the fourth floor of Le Grand Large, a complex on a Mediterranean bay, about a five-minute drive from the center of Monaco. The area, called Fontvieille, was developed on reclaimed land in the 1970s and ’80s, and includes a 275-slip marina.

It is rare to find an apartment like this directly on the waterfront, said Monica de Champfleury, the managing director of Hammer Draff Great Properties, the Christie’s affiliate listing the apartment. The Fontvieille neighborhood is also known for its “tranquillity,” she said, compared with other parts of Monaco, which is, “like most cities, a rather noisy place.”

This apartment is 1,152 square feet (107 square meters), including two wide, covered balconies. The unit is a “good size” for Monaco, where apartments are “historically small,” Ms. de Champfleury said.

It is entered via a private elevator from the basement parking garage and is three rooms: a living room, kitchen and master bedroom with en-suite bathroom. A wraparound balcony is accessible from the bedroom; the other balcony is off the living room, offering views of the bay and Monaco’s famed cliffs, known as the Rock, which is home to the royal palace.

The interior of the apartment was completely redone two years ago by the Monaco design firm Carte Blanche, Ms. de Champfleury said. The entry has wall-to-wall mirrors and beige marble floors; the floors in the rest of the apartment are whitewashed oak.

In the kitchen, where there is enough room for a small table, the lighting is hidden behind an onyx wall. The wood cabinets are handmade, the counters are marble and the appliances are Miele.

The master bedroom also has built-in cabinetry, and the bathroom has marble walls and counters, as well as a remote-controlled towel-heating rack.

There is under-floor heating throughout the apartment, and an integrated technology system allows the entertainment, air-conditioning and lighting to be controlled remotely. The furniture is included in the asking price, as is a parking space in the garage. There is round-the-clock security and a concierge, Ms. de Champfleury said, and the building has an outdoor pool.

Restaurants and bars in Fontvieille are within walking distance. Fontvieille is also home to Monaco’s heliport, which offers service to the airport in Nice, the closest international airport, about a 45-minute drive from Monaco. Bus and train service is available from Nice as well.

Market Overview

Monaco is the most expensive property market in the world, according to a recent report by the international real estate company Savills: In 2016, the average resale price was $45,360 (or 41,400 euros) per square meter, compared with $42,840 (or €39,100) per square meter in Hong Kong and $31,994 (€29,200) in Tokyo, the next-most-expensive markets.

The average price paid for a resale home in Monaco last year was $4.7 million (€4.3 million), a 180 percent increase from a decade earlier, according to the report, while in Fontvieille, one of the most popular areas with home buyers, the average resale price was $6.4 million (€5.8 million).

One reason for the high prices is the lack of new construction in recent years, said Irene Luke, a partner in Savills’s Monaco office. Of the 553 homes sold in Monaco last year, only 33 (6 percent) were new buildings, according to the company’s data. “There is certainly a shortage of new properties for sale,” Ms. Luke said, and those that are new and large “are especially in demand.”

Recently, however, the market has begun to slow, with the number of sales declining after a record year in 2016, agents said.

“The market has leveled off somewhat in the last six months,” said Edward de Mallet Morgan, head of the Monaco office for Knight Frank. Monaco’s “discerning and wealthy clientele” is growing more selective, he said, and many buyers are not interested in buildings constructed more than 50 years ago. They “prefer not to buy in older buildings and refurbish, although because stock and supply is short, that is often what people have to do.”

Most of the homes available are apartments. “There are some independent villas, but not many,” Mr. de Mallet Morgan said. “And they tend to sell quickly if they are in good order.”

Who Buys in Monaco

Monaco’s famously low taxes continue to attract home buyers, agents said, but the demographics are changing. Buyers tend to be younger and more interested in making Monaco their primary residence. “They have residences all over the world as well,” Ms. Luke said, but “Monaco is not a secondary residence or holiday destination.”

Foreign buyers still come from all over the world, including Russia, former Soviet Republics, the Middle East and South Africa, Mr. de Mallet Morgan said, as many of them see Monaco as a more stable environment than their home countries. “Wherever there is political or fiscal instability, we see people coming to Monaco because of its safe-haven status,” he said. “Security and stability are precious commodities in today’s world.”

Buying Basics

The buying process is straightforward and follows most international guidelines, agents said.

A notary handles the details of the transaction and performs a search of the land registry for title records. The initial contract is signed with a 10 percent deposit held in escrow by the notary, Mr. de Mallet Morgan said, and financing is readily available for qualifying buyers.

Although the process is usually issue-free, he added, “we always advise buyers to consult with a lawyer before making an offer, so they are fully informed of all elements of the transaction.”

The process usually takes two to three months, but it can be much faster, Ms. Luke said: “We have done deals in a couple of days.”

Languages and Currencies

French; euro (1 euro = $1.09)

Taxes and Fees

There are no capital gains, property or income taxes in Monaco. Property registration, title registration and notary fees are typically about 6 percent of the purchase price, agents said, and the buyer pays a commission of about 3 percent, plus a value-added tax that could be 20 percent of that.

This apartment has a $931 (€850) monthly building maintenance fee.

The New York Times