8. Property Auction Procedure in France

If you have carefully read the auction particulars you will be informed as to the manner in which the auction will proceed.

You would be well advised to do a practice run with an auction, even if you have no intention of bidding, simply so that you can become familiar with the process.

At the auction you will asked to sign a bidding authorisation. You will be given a numbered badge, which you will need to use to bid.

You will normally be asked to provide information on your identity, which may include sight of your passport and/or your marriage certificate.

The sale procedure itself still seems to be locked in the middle ages!

The procedure is known as vente à la bougie or ‘sale by candlight’.

When the auction starts the notaire will light a candle which will stay illuminated during the auction.

Once silence starts to occur, the notaire will light two small candles, which will each be alight for around 30 seconds, leaving a minute for new bidders to manifest themselves. Otherwise the property is awarded to the highest bidder.

After the extinction of two successive flames without new bids coming forward that winning bid is pronounced.

Some notaires have moved things on a bit and use an electric light that is switched on and off, but the basic procedure remains the same.

The winning bid will be asked to go to an office where you will be asked to sign an auction report and the notaire will stamp your bidding authorisation as ‘awarded’, with the sale price.

If you are not the winning bidder then your cheque is returned to you at the auction, when you also return your badge.

In general, auctions do not have a reputation for malpractice, but as ever, you need to keep your wits about you in the auction room and see just who is bidding against you – if anyone!


Next: Overbids

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