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 – especially right now, as the dollar is the strongest it’s been against the Euro in more than a decade. 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 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 expat British 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 notaire. A notaire is first and foremost a public official – not a lawyer – 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.
French Real Estate Prices
The prices in France can run the spectrum, from glittering apartments in Paris that cost $20 million dollars to ramshackle stone village houses that cost less than $20,000. As with anywhere, real estate prices tend to directly correspond with the popularity of the region, town or neighborhood. Naturally, real estate in large cities are usually more expensive than equivalent properties countryside or rural homes, and houses in the sunny south will inevitably cost more than those in the damp western coast. But there are good value or even bargain homes to be found almost every region in France, even if it finding them may require patience.
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 vente is 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 be 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 vente and promessed’achat are 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 vente is 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 vente or a promessed’achat, buyers who decides to back out won’t lose their deposit, although they could be subject to a claim for damages. The same applies to vendors. If they pull out of the sale, they can be liable for compensation up to an amount equivalent to the buyer’s deposit.
*Prices as of 2015
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A cobbled square, an outdoor café, a sky full of stars. Vincent van Gogh’s Café Terrace At Night is laden with the romance of place—I always want to step into the picture and sit at one of the tables…drink a glass or two of wine…join the patrons in idle conversation. Van Gogh painted the picture during his time in Arles—a small city in Provence in the sunny south of France.
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Right now, doom and gloom in Europe runs deep. But there is a story not being told…one of opportunity borne of this crisis. A story of places where you could own your own piece of the Old World…for less than half the price of a budget family sedan. In Greece and beyond—prices are falling like a rock. And for anybody who ever mused about a European retreat, that’s the silver lining.
France Real Estate
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