Buying a Property
About estate agents in France
Agencies usually charge in between 4 and 10% on top of the seller’s asking price (it is the buyer who pays the agency commission, not the seller). Check that the prices you are being quoted already include the agent’s fee. The procedure for buying property depends to a certain extent on the type/size of the property being purchased and your own personal situation but the following explanation will give you some idea of the order of events. (Newer properties actually have lower charges as both solicitor’s fees and stamp duty are reduced)
Procedure for buying a property in France
French law then stipulates that you are entitled to a delai de rétraction a seven day [‘cooling off’ period->The-seven-day-cooling-off-period] during which time you can change your mind about the sale without incurring any expense (If the agent or ‘notaire’ has already asked you for a deposit, that will be refunded in full within 21 days maximum.) If you no longer want the property, you must send the vendor [a registered letter->The-seven-day-cooling-off-period] stating your intention within the 7 day period. The seller on the other hand is now under obligation to sell you the property and would be legally bound to pay you 10% of the asking price if he were to renege.
Once the seven day ‘cooling off’ period is over the contract is binding on both sides. However, if the sale is dependant on a mortgage offer, a further period of time is available to secure the finance. (stipulated in the Compromis de Vente under Conditions suspensives ) If the finance is not granted, the buyer may pull out without any penalty. French mortgages may offer a better deal if the interest rate is low at that time, and many [mortgage companies->-Finance-Insurance-Law-] and most [banks->-Finance-Insurance-Law-] in France are happy to finance non-nationals
The job of the ‘notaire’
By the completion date, all monies should be transferred to the solicitor. It is advisable to do this a few days before the agreed date in case of bank delays etc. At this point you will sign the Acte authentique de vente (in person if possible but if not you may appoint a third party to act for you) ET VOILA! – the property belongs to you!
Procedures do differ depending on the size of the estate agency, the area, the type of property, the ‘notaire’ etc
Checklist of documents you should take with you when house-hunting to be on the safe side!
Checklist of documents you should take with you if you intend to apply for a loan/mortgage with a French bank If you wish to get the ball rolling immediately:
Information that you should try to obtain from the vendor before comitting yourself Any planning permission pending
Where to buy
If you wish to buy your property in a quiet and unspoilt part of the region, do be sure that you have access to all services and that you are able to return to ‘civilisation’ if neccessary in times of snow or high winds. If you are buying through an agent, remember that ’10km from shops’ might mean 10 km of steep, narrow, winding mountain road.
If you have a young family, schools and public transport have to play an important part in your decision. Take a look at a couple of sites which will tell you a little about schools in the region: www.cartables.net (in french) and www.education.fr – an excellent site which will give you all the info you need for choosing a school in France.