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France Guide

 

Buying a French Property Living in France

When you buy a French property you should try and negotiate the price of the house. This is especially true in areas popular with foreign buyers as prices are often above what a French person would pay because the vendor hopes to dupe an unsuspecting foreigner into paying more money.

It is also possible to buy French property at auction (vente aux enchères). If you decide to follow this route you will need to have the money readily available to purchase the property as the sale will not be conditional on you finding a mortgage after you have placed your bid. There are also higher fees involved in this method around 15 20% but you might find a bargain and offset the savings against the higher costs.

Having agreed to buy the property the agent should draw up a promesse de vente and send it to the notary who will then finalise the purchase, drawing up the contracts and carrying out the relevant checks. The vendor usually pays the agent's fees but do check before you agree to purchase. The buyer pays the notary's fee.

The contract must mention the items to be included in the sale, such as curtains and fitted kitchens, as these are not included otherwise. Vendors are only obliged to leave items that are essential like toilets and sinks, not fitted cupboards or light fittings. It is surprising to hear what some vendors have taken with them!

Once the deposit is paid, if the buyer pulls out of the sale he loses the deposit; if the vendor pulls out he has to pay back the deposit and a similar sum as a forfeit. The buyer has seven days in which to change his mind after receiving the signed contract from the seller, with the deposit being refunded in full. If you must do this, do so by recorded delivery to protect your rights.

Completion usually takes place 3 4 months after agreeing to buy the property because the notaire begins his checks after you sign the initial contract (avant contrat). You should inspect the property just before the completion date to make sure it is all in order, using the inventory provided when the avant contrat was signed. At completion you and the vendor will sign an acte authentique de vente (final deed) and receive a document identifying land and buildings included in sale, a summary of ownership for the last 30 years, and details of any planning permission.