Tips for Buying a Property in France

  • The process of buying property in France is fairly straightforward and the registration system is sound. However, as a general rule, it proceeds without the appointment of a solicitor or an avocat, so you need to have your wits about you
  • Take care on the content of written offers. Ensure they state that the offer is subject to such conditions to be elaborated in a sale and purchase contract.
  • If at all possible, appoint your own notaire to act for you in the transaction, rather than using a single notaire on a shared basis with the vendor.
  • If you are unsure whether you are paying over the odds ask your own notaire for their opinion as they will be familiar with the actual selling prices for properties in the area.
  • The notaire is not going to verify everything you need to know about the property, so it is imperative you make your own pre-contract enquiries.
  • As mortgages are comparatively cheap in France, and can offer some tax advantages if you relocate, you should consider buying with a French mortgage on the property.
  • If you are seeking a mortgage to buy the property it is imperative you include a conditional clause in the sale contract. You should also include conditional clauses relating to planning and other matters as necessary.
  • If the seller owns additional land or buildings adjoining the property not included in the sale, endeavour to include a clause in the sale contract granting you the right of first refusal in the event of future sale of the property.
  • A 5% to 10% deposit is not mandatory, as a lesser sum is equally valid, so you may be able to get away with offering a lower deposit.
  • The vendor is obliged to provide a number of statutory survey reports, which you should verify with the notaire. 
  • The vendor is also obliged to make a number of statutory disclosures, which you should verify in front of the notaire and include in the contract, e.g. condition, tenancies.
  • Establish with the vendor, and confirm with the notaire in the contract, the fixtures and fittings that are to remain in the property.
  • If you are an unmarried couple it is imperative you buy on a joint basis in order to protect the interests of each party.
  • If you are married then if you wish your surviving spouse to inherit all of your estate, you should adopt a French marriage contract or buy en tontine.
  • If you are not married, or you are buying as an unrelated group of people, then you should consider buying through a property company, called a Société Civile Immobilière (SCI).
  • On the day of completion, or the day before completion takes place, visit the property to ensure all is as it should be, particularly in relation to fixtures and fittings.
  • The legal fees and taxes in connection with purchase are not inconsiderable, but there are steps you may be able to take to reduce these costs.
  • If you are buying an off-plan new property you will usually get a better deal 

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