Purchasing a property is certainly more of a ‘hands on’ experience in France. It’s probably one of the biggest events in your life and you are involved in the process from start to finish. This gives more control to the purchaser and allows you to make important choices and decisions regarding your new lifestyle.
Finding your property.
Whether it’s a holiday home or main residence you are seeking, there are several factors often overlooked by us all.
- Where are the nearest ports, airports, bus and train stations?
- What types of local facilities are available, matching your needs?
- Fishing, walking clubs, horse riding, kayaking, knitting clubs, local markets, shopping malls etc.
- Locations of local Schools, Doctors, and hospitals, depending on your family age and health.
- How often do I intend to spend time in my property, weekends, summer holidays or permanently?
For those who depend on technology for communication – business or family.
- Internet access is often much slower in rural areas and small villages, than in Great Britain. Some villages depend on satellite systems where broadband is unobtainable or very slow.
- Mobile phone signals can sometimes be low or non existant when living in a remote area or near churches. (Check yours when visiting properties and ask your agent which network provider works best in the area).
Rural, Village or Town location.
It’s important to look to the future and your lifestyle when considering the actual location type.
Things that may be of no importance to you now, may be a hindrance in the future.
- Rural locations are often sought after for their gorgeous views, privacy, land area and tranquillity.
- Village locations are great if you have a family wanting to join the community clubs and activities. They also suit retired people with local shops and often a weekly village market, all just a short walk away.
- Town locations are often sought by those seeking to start a commercial business or those working from home and often commuting back and forth to Great Britain.
E mail or telephone the agency prior to booking the viewing as they can answer many of your questions, often giving advice, matching your criteria to other properties you may be interested in.
Give plenty of time for viewings. Properties chosen for viewing are often two or three miles apart. The agent will usually take you to the property in their car. Be sure to ask him questions regarding the area and properties you visit as you travel. Leaving them floating around in your head usually means they are forgotten by the time you get back to the office.
Once you have chosen the property you intend to purchase, speak with your agent about making an offer or going with the asking price. The agent will usually have an idea as to the vendors’ movement, if any on the price.
These are very similar to the old HIP tests, in England and provide you with an idea as to some of the property areas where you may need to have work undertaken. In France there is no survey undertaken on properties prior to purchase.
The diagnostics include, depending on the age of the property and the Department of France in which it is situated;
- DPE- The energy rating of the property. This varies greatly and of course depend on the building type, heating system and insulation/double glazing etc.
- AMIANTE- Asbestos. It incorporates materials which may have a percentage of asbestos and lists the materials, where they are located in the property and if they are a health threat, safe or need checking on a yearly basis. These items are often, undulated roofing sheets, external old pipe work and insulating boards in old properties.
- PLOMB- Lead. Currently the inspection doesn’t include pipe work, but gives you lead paint levels, if any are found. Again this is for older properties.
- ELECTRICITY- This control highlights any areas where the electrical system in the property no longer conforms or may need checking by an electrician. Even in newly built properties there may be highlighted areas, where the regulations have altered since the construction of the property.
- TERMITES- These diagnostics are only provided in Departmental areas of France where termites are known to be.
- MERULES- This is a diagnostic test provided within areas where these ‘mushrooms’ have been found to be present. It is NOT a legal requirement as part of the diagnostics and as such some vendors will not pay to have it carried out. Often, a Notaire in the areas where it is known this fungi could be present will then ask the purchaser to choose whether he wishes for the diagnostic to be carried out at his cost.
- Assainissement – Sewage system. If on mains sewage, there will be certification from the local authority clarifying the property is on a mains sewage system. If the property has an individual sewage system, a control report will identify any areas where upgrading will be required. This will have to be carried out within a year commencing from your purchase date.
Some or all of the above may be available to view prior to you making an offer. All must be available before you sign the compromise and are listed within it.
LAND AREAS- The limits of all land and property perimeters in France are defined on the land registry plans. These will be available at the agency for you to view and clarifies any uncertainties you may have as to where the land area starts and finishes.
Making your offer.
You can do this, whilst at the office, later via e mail or letter and if by phone, the offer will be taken and processed but the agent will ask you to confirm the offer in writing.
IMPORTANT PRICING DETAILS TO REMEMBER WHEN MAKING AN OFFER
- NETT VENDOR – This is the price payable to the sellers –It’s never a good idea to make an offer based on the Nett Vendor price as you have no idea of the agency and Notaire fees. These could vary considerably depending on the offer price.
- FAI- This means the agency fee is included within the price shown. It is the best way and the most common way to make an offer as the agency would usually have advertised the property FAI. The agency will work backwards to work out the Nett Vendor price for the seller depending on the agency percentage fee rate.
- ACTE EN MAINS- The price shown is an ‘all inclusive’ price and already incorporates the Notaire and agency fees. It is not often used to promote a property as the Notaires fees fluctuate, as do the agency fees, depending on the actual price payable for the property. It is not usually used as an offer making step but will be shown on paperwork to clarify the total price you will pay for the property.
- Agency fees – These vary from agency to agency and are listed within their offices. They are usually calculated on a percentage rate, depending on the property price.
- Notaire fees- In France notaries, unlike solicitors fees in Great Britain cannot spiral out of your control as their charges/ fees are set out and regulated. They fluctuate depending on the property you buy as they are based on a % of the property price payable and provide provision to include items such as land registry etc. Once this is added to your purchase details you will have the total figure payable for the property.
Once your offer is accepted the agent will draw up a compromis. This is a contract between you and the vendor. It forms an in depth detailed contract and forms the basis upon which the Notaire will draw up the final Acte de Vente. Once this is signed by the vendors, they have a legal obligation to sell the property to you for the stated price, even if he later receives a better offer for his property.
Your agent will send to you, via a recorded delivery system, a copy of the compromis along with a letter outlining your right to have a ‘cooling off’ period of seven days. This enables the purchaser to retract from the sale within a duration of seven days from the reception of this letter. Should he retract within this time, he will incur no charges or fees.
Once this delay has passed, you will be required to forward a 10% deposit, to the agents or Notaires’ client account. The deposit will be deducted from the total price payable. It is important to know, should you try and retract from the purchase after the retraction delay has passed, you could lose your deposit.
The agent will liaise between you and the Notaire, informing you of the final contract signing date. This is normally between 9 to 12 weeks after the compromis has been signed. He will also ask you to ensure the funds for the remaining purchase price are transferred prior to the signing.
Should you not be able to be present for the signing, your agent can provide you with a Procuration, allowing the Notaire to sign the Acte on your behalf.
Once the Acte De Vente is signed, you are the legal owner of the property and your title deeds will be available to you within 3 to six months.
If purchasing the property with a French mortgage the above system will still apply and only the Acte de Vente will alter slightly as the legal banking documents will require signing on that day. Please note there may be a charge made by the bank or mortgage company for setting up the mortgage.
Taxe Foncières and Taxe D’Habitation.
These are taxes payable on properties in France. The Taxe Foncières are land taxes and the amounts payable are defined by the land area, property type,location and department the property is situated in. They are payable yearly and depending on when you purchase your property, the vendors could possibly receive that years land rate bill. They are required to pay this and then take the receipt to their Notaire who will calculate the pro rata amount payable by you from the date you became the proprietor. You will then be asked to reimburse the vendor for this amount. The following yearly the bill should come directly to you.
The Taxe d’Habitation is payable yearly and is payable by the person living in the property on the first of January of that year. For example if you purchased your property on the sixth of January, you would have no habitation taxes to pay for the whole of that year. They would be payable by the vendor or tenant occupying the property on the first of January of that year. The amount payable by the current occupier isn’t necessarily the amount you will be required to pay the following year as income, age and other factors are taken into account.
- Notaire – Solicitor. Usually one Notaire draws up the Acte for the sale and should there be two involved, the fees indicated within the comproimis are split between the two.
- Procuration – Power of attorney document, allowing a designated person to act and sign the documentation on your behalf.
- Compromis- initial legally binding contract.
- Acte de vente – Final purchase contract.
- Titres- Title deeds
- Cadastral Plan- Land registry plan