Real Estate: A de bric et de broc aspect offers good variety
Buying in Saint Roman
We continue our coastal property series, bypassing the Principality of Monaco and rolling straight into Saint Roman. On the eastern Monegasque border, Saint Roman - part of the commune of Roquebrune Cap Martin - extends north towards the Moyenne Corniche and east to the Quatre Chemins roundabout.
Twenty-three years ago, Didier Villa at Agence Franco-Monégasque created his estate agency here, the only one at the time. He has seen the area’s market evolve over the decades, and it's been largely thanks to Monaco.
Following the crisis, the number of transactions has dropped by 50 per cent, and Mr Villa estimates that prices have fallen by 15 to 20 per cent since 2008. That said, there are now three estate agencies in Saint Roman with a fourth in the pipeline.
Country club caché
Directly below Avenue de France (the Basse Corniche), descending towards the sea, is the Monaco Country Club. Nearby, you can find a few "very expensive" villas and luxury residences where apartments sell for 10,000 to 12,000 euros/sqm. There's a similar mix of property heading up towards the Moyenne Corniche.
Depending on the quality of the building, apartments are valued at 8,000 to 10,000 euros/sqm. In the Parc de Saint Roman, a gated condominium, substantial villas can cost up to 20,000 euros/sqm.
Property values along the main road itself will vary depending on which side of the Avenue de France you're on. Apartments on the "bad" side, that is the noisy north side, sell on average for 6,000 to 7,000 euros/sqm; buildings on the south overlooking the Country Club and sea fetch 8,000 to 9,000 euros/sqm, and "up to 10,000 euros for the most attractive ones."
Originally, recalls Villa, the Saint Roman market was mainly French clients working in Monaco but not interested in living there. Then, over the years a market for second homes has developed.
Sixty years ago, Saint Roman was quite a populous area. The eastern extremity of Monaco was not particularly sought after and people working in Monaco and living in Saint Roman built houses with what means they had. These still exist today.
A second wave of construction in the 1960s and 1970s produced modern apartment blocks lying aesthetically somewhere between low-rent council housing and commercially saleable properties. Then there are the very luxurious buildings of the last 30 years. "So there are these three categories of building side by side," says Villa, "which give this slightly de bric et de broc aspect," a splendid expression meaning a mishmash.
Building land is as rare as hens' teeth, but there are properties for renovation. You can still find "somewhat abandoned" apartments, and given Saint Roman's illustrious neighbour, the property market here offers good investment potential with a demand for both seasonal and annual lets.