Buying a Property in France

Welcome to our comprehensive Guide to Buying a Property in France in which we consider:

  1. Legal Process of Buying French Property
  2. Société Civile Immobilière (SCI)
  3. Buying an Off-Plan French Property
  4. Buying at a French Property Auction

Buying French Property

In the guide we consider the different types of French sale/purchase property contracts (promesse de vente or a compromis de vente), the use of estate agents in France, notaires and legal advisors.

We examine the 'cooling-off' period in the contract, and the conditional clauses that can be included, particularly in relation to getting a French mortgage.

We also consider the French property surveys (diagnostic immobilier) that need to be undertaken, as well as more general French property building surveys.

We consider the responsibilities of the notaire such as the local planning search (urbanisme).The notaire will also need to satisfy themselves that you will have good title to the French property.

We review the pre-emption rights of the local council and the French land agency SAFER.

We consider the different forms of ownership of French property, whether en indivision, or en tontine, or through a property company called a Société Civile Immobilière (SCI) as each has important implications in French inheritance law.

Finally, we consider the fees and taxes that are payable, frequently referred to as the frais de notaire.

You can read the guide at Legal Process of Buying Property in France.

Société Civile Immobilière (SCI)

In this guide we consider the use of a Société Civile Immobilière (SCI) to purchase French property.

An SCI is a particular type of French property that can offer tax and inheritance advantages.

However, the use of such a vehicle is by no means self-evident, and you need to give careful consideration to your circumstances, the benefits and disadvantages before you adopt this approach.

You can read the guide at Société Civile Immobilière (SCI).

Buying an Off-Plan French Property

In this guide we offer information and advice on buying an off-plan French property, called vente sur plan.

We consider the preliminary contract (called the contrat de réservation) for an off-plan French property, and the deposit (dépôt de garantie that is payable.

We then review the main contract, called a Vente en l’état futur d’achèvement (VEFA) for an off-plan French property.

As part of the purchase process you will need to consider the track record of the French property developer, and the financial guarantees (garantie de remboursement or a garantie d'achèvement) and building guarantees (la responsabilité décennale) they are required to offer.

There are important issues concerning the handover and delivery of an off-plan French property, which you would be well-advised to think about before works starts on site.

You can read the guide at Buying an Off-Plan French Property.

Buying at a French Property Auction

In this guide we consider the process of buying at a French property auction.

The guide includes consideration of the different types of French property auctions, advertising of French property auctions, the auction particulars (cahier des charges), the reserve price (mise à prix ), and the French property auction procedure (vente à la bougie).

You also need to consider the possibility of a later overbid (la surenchère) at an auction.

You can read the guide at Buying at a French Property Auction.

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