Buying guide

If you're looking to buy a home in France, there's a lot to consider – from your housing criteria to the laws and regulations governing the purchase of property.

The transfer of ownership of real estate in France goes through a "notary". This establishes what is called an “authentic deed of sale” (proof of ownership) and ensures that the transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer takes place correctly. The money and the keys are then passed on from the old owner to the new one. Here is an overview of the process from the acquirer's perspective:

The list of your criteria. Start by making a list of your important criteria that your future home must meet. It may be the location, the price, the surface, the situation in the building (in the case of an apartment), the orientation, the proximity to different activities, beaches, shops, the view, a swimming pool, the state of the accommodation (necessary renovations or new), the proximity to the airport, golf courses, ski resorts, etc. Determine an order of priority in this list of criteria.

The localisation. Take the time to visit the different towns and villages that may interest you.

The market. There are several ways to find out which homes are available for sale. The most common is to do research on the internet. Each real estate agent has their own website. Portals where agents present their properties are also accessible. These portals are numerous, but none covers all the goods for sale. Property descriptions are often brief and some properties can sometimes be marketed by several agents at the same time on the same portal. It is not uncommon for the same accommodation to be marketed by several agents, but at different prices.

Choose an agency. Real estate agents often work with formal or informal purchase mandates. They then contact other agents to obtain information about their property. Most agents work together and it is not uncommon for one to represent the seller and the other the buyer. Select an agent who listens to your needs, ready to invest in finding the accommodation of your dreams and who has the required skills.

Opt for a real estate agent with the required skills and who is attentive to your needs.

Visit. Obviously, you will have to visit the properties that interest you several times and at different times of the day to "soak up their atmosphere" and in particular understand, for example, how they can be impacted by light and noise.

Housing information. The seller is required, prior to the signing of the "compromis de vente" (preliminary contract) to order and pay for a file of technical diagnoses of the accommodation. This file must include a measurement of the living area for a condominium, an energy performance diagnosis and an assessment of any natural risks (fire, flood, earthquake) in the nearby area. In many cases, a diagnosis of the possible presence of lead, termites and asbestos will also be required, as well as a risk analysis of the electrical installations and other technical systems belonging to the property. If there is a septic tank, this should also be inspected. The documents must then be made available to the purchaser. The co-ownership charges, taxes and the last annual minutes (of the co-ownership) must also be made available to the buyer.

The financial aspect. Find out about the actual annual maintenance costs for the building. Taxes, electricity, water and possible repairs.

Market value. It is not always so easy to understand the value of goods on the French market. This involves doing your own research, but do not hesitate to ask the real estate agent to provide you with more information.

Acquisition costs. The acquisition costs remain the responsibility of the purchaser. On old properties, they represent around 8-10% of the purchase price. The exact percentage depends on the sale price. The best is to make an approximate estimate of 10% when it comes to an already existing property and 3.5% in the new.

Agency fees. The agency commission is included in the communicated price.

The choice of the Notary. The French often have a family notary who follows them during the different periods of life. A notary is a lawyer specializing in real estate and family law. He has his own company called "Etude" and his own clients, but is appointed and controlled by the public authority. From the outset, choose a competent and conscientious notary who communicates easily with his clients. We can of course advise you. The notary is also the person to consult, for example to know if one should buy through a company or privately. In addition, the notary gives advice in matters relating to heritage, inheritance rights, etc. The buyer and the seller can each choose their own notary. It does not cost more, since in this case the fees are shared. The notary also draws up wills, distributes the estate, etc.

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