If you are interested in buying property in L'Isle-sur-la'Sorgue or in the Luberon area contact Victoria from Maison Victoire. A Scot with fluent French, Victoria can guide you through the sometimes bewildering French property purchasing process.
Someone else who can help ease your way through the property buying process (bank account, mortgage etc) is Robin Boxall from Banque Chaix. You can contact Robin by email - or phone - +33 (0) 6 84 98 48 97
For detailed information on buying in France, take a look at the French Property website.
We recommend having a survey done before committing to a property puchase. We use John Marshall a British surveyor living and working in France.
BUYING IN FRANCE
Disclaimer - The information published on this Web Site is not exhaustive and does not constitute legal or other professional advice or opinion. Its purpose is only to provide information of a general nature concerning buying property in France and to share our experiences. Under no circumstances should it be regarded as professional advice, which can only be obtained from your own advisers.
It is our experience that the French do not seem to negotiate on price like Australians do. They want to get pretty close to the asking price. We have watched properties languish on the market for years before a price reduction is made by the vendors, who seem very patient and prepared to wait for property to sell.
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. You will need to appoint a notaire to act for you in the transaction. We selected a notaire and had an initial meeting with her some months before finding our first property. Do not sign anything or pay any monies until you have spoken to your notaire.
The legal process will be carried out in French. Unless you are fluent in French, get assistance with translation. An English speaking notaire will make the process much easier.
As mortgages are comparatively cheap in France, you should consider buying with a French mortgage on the property. Australian banks will not give you a mortgage for a French property. You will likely want to open a French bank account. Getting a bank account took far more time and effort than obtaining a mortgage. It is much more complex than the process in Australia. Be patient and you will get to the end of it.
If you are going to let the property then you will need to lodge a tax return in France. Engage an English-speaking accountant to guide you through the process. Australia and France share tax information – it is always best to comply with the tax laws or you can be fined.
The Compromis de Vente
A compromis de vente is what may more commonly be understood as a sale and purchase agreement.
A deposit of up to 10% of the purchase price is made on signing of the compromis and the purchaser has a short time period during which they can withdraw from the contract without penalty. A 10% deposit is not obligatory, so try to offer a lower deposit.
Ensure the compromise states any conditions that the offer is subject to. It is quite common in France for kitchens, light fittings and window treatments to not be part of a sale. Establish with the vendor, and confirm with the notaire in the compromis, the fixtures and fittings that are to remain in 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.
You do not need to be in France to sign the compromis.
The vendor is 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.
The vendor is obliged to provide a number of statutory survey reports, which you should verify with the notaire. These surveys fall well short of a full building survey, so do not be over-reliant upon these reports. In general the contract is not conditional to the findings of these reports. They are for your information. The notaire will ensure these statutory survey reports are carried out but is not going to verify everything you need to know about the property, so it is imperative you make your own pre-contract enquiries. We recommend a full survey pre-contract especially where renovation works are to be performed or where there are any signs of structural issues such as cracking, leaking roof, rising damp etc. These are not inexpensive to have done but may prevent any nasty surprises and you may get an indication of the cost of any required works.
Some renovation works require approvals from the Mairie. It is best to check before starting any works. If there are plans to conduct restoration or building works, extensions etc, it will be best to check that these will be possible prior to committing to a purchase.
Inheritance laws in France are complex and you need to understand what they mean for your situation. There are different options for holding property depending upon whether you are a married couple, unmarried couple or unrelated group of people, in order to protect the interests of each party. The notaire will explain the options and their legal implications to you.
Fees and charges
Allow about 9% of the property price for legal fees and taxes in connection with purchase. This includes the notaire’s charge. The notaire will be able to let you know the exact amount due. (The property price is the asking price minus the real estate agent’s fee).
The purchaser pays the real estate agent’s fees - these are added to the property price.
The figure advertised on websites or in real estate agent widows usually includes the agency fees – if in doubt ask.
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.
Before you can complete on a French property, the notaire will need to have all purchase funds in place. This can by done either by the transfer of funds directly to the notaire's client bank account, or by cheque. Leave plenty of time for the cheque to be processed. Do not leave things until the last minute, or you risk finding that completion cannot take place as cleared funds are not available. If you are taking out a mortgage then the lender will arrange to transfer funds to the notaire.
Signing of the Acte Authentique (Deed of Sale)
When all the enquiries have been completed and funds are in place, the notaire will schedule an appointment at their office to sign the deed of sale, the acte authentique. Only notaires are authorised to prepare such a deed, which guarantees legal transfer of the property.
The notaire will read through the main clauses in the deed of sale. There is no requirement for the buyer and seller to be present in front of the notaire to complete the formalities. If you are unable to be in France for completion, you can arrange to give another person the 'Power of Attorney' to sign on your behalf.
Certificate of Purchase
When you have signed the deed of sale, you should ask the notaire for a certificate of purchase (called attestation), which you can use to gain access to public services for the property, and open a bank account etc if you have not already so. Accordingly, the certificate can be presented to any of the public utility services to get a connection e.g. electricity, gas, phone.