France Real Estate
Magnificent Real Estate and Property in France
If you’re in the market for European real estate, then you will find France real estate attractively affordable. France is a predominantly rural country, so if you have notions of restoring a cottage, a farmhouse, or even a château, there’s an ample supply of real estate for sale in France for you to choose from
French Real Estate Agents
French real estate agents (agents immobiliers) are strictly regulated. They must be in possession of what’s called a carte professionelle, which can be issued only by the agent’s local authority upon producing evidence that the immobilier has a minimum bond or guarantee with respect to the deposit of monies received from property buyers. More than 8,000 French real estate agents belong to FNAIM (Fédération Nationale de l’Immobilier), a recognized professional body. FNAIM can provide you with a list of member agents in your chosen area. The organization’s website has a comprehensive list of agents as well as a database detailing properties available in any given area. The FNAIM network includes some expat English real estate agents who have relocated to France. Obviously, the British house-buying system is not the same as that in North America, but these agents are used to answering questions-in English-about how the process works for buying real estate in France. If everything is new to you, and you’re unsure of your French language skills, these agents can help you open a bank account and get set up with gas, electricity, and telephone companies. French real estate agents can do the same, but not all speak English.
The Supply of Real Estate in France Will Not Suddenly Dry up–so Don’t Rush in
The first rule is of buying real estate in France is: don’t rush in. Unless your heart is set on a home in the more popular areas of Provence, there are more than enough French castles, farmhouses, and village houses on the property market for everybody. The supply is not going to dry up suddenly, so take your time. Visit a range of different properties in France to get an idea of French real estate prices. Clearly, you want to get as much maison as possible for your dollar. And note: it’s quite acceptable to make an offer. Away from the really high-profile areas, houses often sell for less than their listing prices. In France the business of conveyancing (the buying and selling of property), is handled by a certified real estate attorney-un notaire. A notaire is first and foremost a public official responsible for ensuring that all deeds are authentic and of incontestable value. You will have to appoint one to act for you. Because they are personally responsible for the contracts drawn up, they must be objective in the advice given-and must act with impartiality toward the various contractual parties. Consequently, the same notaire often acts for both vendor and purchaser. Although engaging your own notaire isn’t strictly necessary, it is in your best interest.
Buying French Real Estate
Buying real estate in France is not a difficult process. In most cases, the procedure is completed within two to three months:
The agent will draw up an initial contract of sale, or a compromis de vente. Remember, unless you are completely au fait with the process, we recommend that you get your own lawyer and/or an independent notary to look it over before you sign it.
Although the compromis de venteis the most commonly used contract, there are other types of preliminary contracts also. It is vital you remember that there is no standard form so you must be sure about what you’re signing—and especially sure that it contains any necessary conditions suspensives. These are conditions that, if not met, render a contract null and void and entitle the prospective purchaser to recover his/her deposit. For example, the preliminary contract could be conditional upon the prospective buyer being able to arrange a loan to purchase the property.
The promesse de venteand promessed’achatare two other options, both of which constitute a commitment to sell or buy. In the case of both these contracts the other party is not legally bound. On the other hand, the compromis de venteis a binding agreement that fixes the price and obligates both the vendor and buyer to come to an eventual completion. However, with a promesse de venteor a promessed’achat, a buyer who decides to back out won’t lose his/her deposit, although they could be subject to a claim for damages. The same applies to the vendor. If he/she pulls out of the sale, he/she can be liable for compensation up to an amount equivalent to the buyer’s deposit.
*Prices as of 2013
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