The process of searching for, buying, owning and selling a property in France can prompt many unanswered questions. Below we have put together succinct responses to those most frequently asked by our clients. If you have topic or specific question that is not covered below, then please email us directly and we will be delighted to send you a personal reply.

How much will the purchase cost?

Our advertised property prices include agency fees so the only other additional purchase costs are the Notarial fees. These vary depending upon whether you obtain a mortgage, but as a guide you should budget for 7.5% of the advertised price.

How long will the whole thing take?

The period between signing a standard compromis de vente and the final acte authentique takes three months. However, there is an initial period after you have negotiated the purchase price before the contract is ready for signing of about an additional two weeks.

Do I need an English solicitor?

Your agent at Bordeaux & Beyond will be with you throughout your purchase and will be present at all meetings between you and the Notaire. We are there to translate and explain the process to you. Increasing number of Notaires speak English at a proficient level so are able to answer your questions directly. However, if you feel that this is not sufficient you can appoint an English solicitor. Their fees will be on top of the Notaire's fees that you will pay in France and are at your cost.

At what point is the sales contract binding?

The compromis de vente is binding for the vendor once they sign the contract. However, you have a further 10 days of 'reflection'. During this period, you are free to withdraw from the purchase for whatever reason. However, you must post a recorded delivery letter to the Notaire before the end of the 10 days to invoke this clause. After this period the contract is binding.

Can I have a clause suspensive for a survey?

You cannot have a clause suspensive for a survey as these are not generally carried out in France. However, you will be given a document which contain the 'diagnostics' for the property. These are the list of tests carried out at the property for termites, asbestos, energy efficiency, natural risks and the electrical installation. If you are concerned and wish to have a survey, then this must be carried out before the end of your 10 days of reflection. After this time, you are legally bound to purchase the property.

What is the role of the Notaire?

The Notaire has two roles. They are there to carry out the role of a solicitor in the UK but they are also there to ensure that the correct taxes are paid to the state when a property is sold.

Can I have my own Notaire?

Yes, you can have your own Notaire however, it is usual to have one Notaire; usually the sellers. The Notaire is independent and they do not act in favour of one party or the other.

Do I have to be in France to sign the compromis or acte?

You do not have to come to France in order to sign the compromis or the act. You can sign a power of attorney that will enable someone else to sign on your behalf. This is usually a clerk at the Notaire's office. The document will need to be officiated in the UK. Please note, that for the acte authentique if you are taking a mortgage the lender has the power to insist that you are present to sign.

What is a clause suspensive?

A clause suspensive is a clause that can be inserted into the compromis to allow a certain degree of flexibility. If the clause is not fulfilled, then you have the right to withdraw from the purchase without incurring any penalty. There are standard clauses such as your mortgage being approved or planning permission being granted that can be included. They are there to protect you as a buyer.

When do I need to contact a bank?

If you require a mortgage you should ideally contact a bank before you visit property. Bordeaux & Beyond has a partnership with BNP Paribas who provide an English speaking service. To register with them please click on their link on our Partners page. The bank will quickly let you know how much you can borrow. Lending rules are different in France so it is best to contact them before you come so you know how much you can spend.

What happens if I don't get a mortgage?

A clause suspensive will be inserted into the compromis de vente to protect you. This means that if the bank refuse to lend you the money you do not have to continue with the purchase of the property. There are strict rules on the information required and the timescale within which you need to provide it to your bank. You must stick to these rules in order to comply with the clause suspensive.

What are the rules about a septic tank?

If the property you are buying has a septic tank you will be given a copy of an inspection report carried out in the last 3 years. This report will tell you whether the septic tank meets with current regulations. If it doesn't you have 12 months from the completion of the sale in which to carry out any work needed.

Will the water and electricity be on when I get to the house?

If there is water and electricity at the house it will be on. Your agent will take meter readings and help you transfer the utilities into your name if you do not speak French. There is also the option of an English speaking service with EDF. You will need to have a bank account in France in order to set up a direct debit service which is a requirement with all new contracts.

How much deposit do I pay?

The standard deposit is 10%. However, this can vary if all parties are in agreement and 5% deposits are becoming more common. The Notaire will provide you with their bank details so that you can transfer the deposit directly into their account.

What do I do in the 10 days of reflection?

Assuming you wish to purchase the property you don't need to do anything. However, if you decide that you no longer wish to continue with your purchase you need to send a recorded delivery letter to the Notaire within this time period.

Who pays the Notaire?

It is the buyer who pays the Notaire's fees.

Who pays the agent?

At Bordeaux & Beyond we have elected for the buyer to pay the agency fees. This ensures that you pay less Notaire's fees as you only pay the equivalent of stamp duty on the payment that passes from you to the seller.

What is the penalty clause?

The standard penalty clause is 10% for either party.

Do I need a currency house?

If you are transferring a large sum of money from one currency to another it is essential that you use a currency house to ensure you receive the best exchange rate. Our partner currency house is Foreign Currencies Direct who we have worked with over the past 10 years. To register for an account please click on their link on our Partners page.

Can I pay in sterling?

Yes, you can pay in sterling; assuming that both buyer and seller are British. If this is elected for, then both parties need to agree on an exchange rate and need to appoint a solicitor in the UK who is versed in both French and English law. Their fees are usually paid equally by seller and buyer.

What property taxes are there in France?

There are two property taxes in France. Taxe d'habitation and Taxe foncière. Taxe d'habitation is paid by the occupier of the property and it is calculated on the notional rent that the property might be expected to achieve in the open market, taking into consideration the condition, size and location of the property. Taxe foncière is paid by the owner of the property and is calculated in a similar way to the taxe d'habitation but also takes into account the local commune charges and facilities.

What are capital gains tax charges in France?

If you are not tax resident in France when you sell a property providing you sell your property for more than 150,000€ and you have made a gain you will be liable for capital gains tax or plus value. Broadly speaking, you will pay 33% of the gain in taxes if you are a European resident.

Can you help me rent out my property?

Bordeaux & Beyond have recently opened an advertising service for those clients looking to rent their property on a seasonal or longer term basis. For more information, please contact us.

Can you advise me on local schools/services?

All of the staff at Bordeaux & Beyond live in the local area so we are more than happy to pass on information we have about where you are moving to; whether it is about schools, places to visit, best restaurants or just the best boulangerie.

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