Buying a property in France

The Estate Agent

Are there any differences between a French Estate Agent and an English State Agent?
The main difference is that a French Estate Agency owner must have a law degree or a least ten years experience to obtain a registration certificate. They are normally very competent with full knowledge of the property and the state it is in; they also know the area well enough to be able to answer any of your questions.

Their fees will normally be included on the price of the property you are given.

How and when do I pay their fees?
Their fees will be included on the completion papers (Title Deed) and will be paid directly to them by the Notaire from the purchase price paid to the Notaire.

How can we help you with the Estate Agent?
Unless you speak fluent French or they speak fluent English, we can liaise with them on your behalf to make sure that all the necessary information on the property is received and checked. Nearer completion we can organize the transfer of the utilities in your name with them, making sure that the direct debits are in place as at the date of completion.

The Notaire

Can I choose the Notaire?
Yes, although in most cases the Estate Agent will refer you to the local Notaire who will normally hold the deeds from the owner. However, you can, if you wish choose a Notaire anywhere in France to deal with your purchase.

Fees of the Notaire?
In France the Notaires have set fees, in the case of a purchase it is a percentage of the purchase price, in 2011, the percentage is normally 7%. This includes stamp duties and all registrations necessary for the purchase.

What is his role?
The role of the Notaire is extremely important, as would the role of the solicitor in the UK. However, in France the Notaire has the duty to complete full searches on the property you are purchasing and needs to compile a complete set of documents from the vendor (or his notaire) in order to sign the completion.

However, he is not obliged to recommend searches or surveys on the property such as easements or future projects in the area.

Can I have the same notaire as the vendor?
In theory you can, however, we strongly recommend having a different Notaire in order to avoid any “short-cuts” or conflict of interests.

Does the Notaire have to be in the same area as the property?
No, you can choose a Notaire anywhere in France.

How do we help and what role do we play with the Notaire in your purchase?
Our role is not only to liaise with the Notaire on your behalf. Before the Compromis de Vente (Sale Agreement) is drafted we will discuss with you the most favourable way in which to purchase the property taking into consideration your personal circumstances, as well as taxation and inheritance matters.

Once we receive a copy of the Compromis de Vente, which is prepared by the Notaire of the vendor, we review it to make sure that all that the terms therein are correct, and to include or refute any terms that might not or might not be in your best interest such as the agreement on the deposit which if not dealt with properly could mean the loss of your deposit if, for whatever reason, you decide to pull out of the purchase. We will send you a full summary of the contents along with our recommendations and/or possible points with which we do not agree and wish to make you aware of.

Throughout the purchasing process we will deal directly with the Notaire to handle all the necessary paperwork and will only contact you when necessary.

As mentioned previously we will also liaise with the Estate Agent, surveyors, banks and any other party involved in the purchase.

Our work will end once both parties have signed the final Deed.

Selling a property in France

Should I advertise my property with more than one Estate Agent?
It is very difficult to answer this question as it depends on how quickly you wish to sell. As in the UK it has its pros and cons. Whether you decide to sign with one or more Estate Agents, please make sure you read the “small print” as in some cases, if you wish to pull out of the sale you might incur some fees.

Should I hand over the keys to my property to the Estate Agent once the Compromis de Vente has been signed?
Once the Compromis de Vente has been signed there is no real reason for the Estate Agent to hold the keys to your property.