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Buying a House in France French Property

Buying a House in France French Property

The process of buying a house in France is divided into three parts: conveyance, contracts and completion.

Conveyance can only been carried out by a public notary (notaire) who represents the French government's interests, not those of the buyer or the seller, and ensures that all relevant taxes are paid. The notary is obliged to be strictly impartial so using the vendor's notary should be fine. You might want to instruct your own notary (they will both share the same fee) if the vendor's notary is also the selling agent. The notary will check whether the land is registered and whether the seller has the right to sell it. He or she will check that there are no plans to build anything that will hinder the enjoyment of the property. This only includes developments that would have a direct effect on the property itself and not any planned motorways or railway lines that would have a positive/negative effect on the value.

The notary will draw up the contracts, but will not provide additional legal advice or point out any drawbacks in the contract. For any further advice you should instruct a lawyer experienced in this type of conveyance, preferably one that is dually qualified in the eyes of French and English law. An English speaking lawyer would be highly useful because it is rare to find a notary who can speak good enough English and, even if your French is excellent, it is likely that your knowledge of legal jargon is fairly superficial.

There are several types of contract when you buy a house in France and the type you have also depends on whether you are buying off plan or buying an existing property. As there are also different ways of buying, consulting a lawyer who can explain the different methods in full and find the best way for you is invaluable as, if you choose the wrong purchase method, you could end up paying more in the long run or committing your children to huge inheritance tax payments. There are idiosyncrasies to the different types of contract that could have pitfalls depending on whether you are part of a married or an unmarried couple, for example.

.  Buying a house in France en division means that on your death the property passes to your inheritor who can then force a sale and compel the joint owner to leave.

.  Buying a house in France en tontine means that your half passes to the joint owner on your death.

.  You can also buy via a limited company, which avoids inheritance laws for non residents as when you sell the property you would be selling company shares and so avoid the tax on property transfer.

.  Other ways to buy a house in France include via a trust or an offshore company.

With so many options it is best to get professional advice on the best system for you.