France Everyone has something to say about France and the French: chic, smart, sexy, rude, racist, bureaucratic, bitchy as hell,  baguettes that dry out by lunchtime and a national pastime of disputes, torching cars and the odd urban riots, political scandal and a 35-hour working week, not to mention a massive box-office hit like The Da Vinci Code taking over Paris or superstar Angelina Jolie allegedly buying a chateau in Normandy to raise her kids and the international media is all ears to everything French.

This is, after all, that fabled land of good food and wine, of royal chateaux and perfectly restored farmhouses, of landmarks known the world over and hidden landscapes few really know. Savour art and romance in the romantic capital on the River Seine. See the glorious past blaze forth at Versailles. Travel south fto see Roman civilisation and the sparkling blue Mediterranean and indulge your jet-set style fantasies in balmy Nice and St-Tropez. Ski in the Alps. Sense the subtle infusion of language, music and mythology in Brittany brought by 5th-century Celtic invaders. Smell ignominy on the beaches of Normandy and battlefields of Verdun and the Somme. And know that this is but the tip of what the French call culture.

France and the EU including links to French government websites and Tourist Information.

France today: Although ultimately a victor in World Wars I and II, France suffered extensive losses in its empire, wealth, manpower, and rank as a dominant nation. Nevertheless, France today is one of the most modern countries in the world and is a leader among European nations. Since 1958, it has constructed a hybrid presidential parliamentary governing system resistant to the instabilities experienced in earlier more purely parliamentary administrations. In recent years, its reconciliation and cooperation with Germany have proved central to the economic integration of Europe, including the introduction of a common exchange currency, the euro, in January 1999. At present, France is at the forefront of efforts to develop the EU's military capabilities to supplement progress toward an EU foreign policy.

France is now in the midst of transition from a well-to-do modern economy that has featured extensive government ownership and intervention to one that relies more on market mechanisms. The government has partially or fully privatized many large companies, banks, and insurers, and has ceded stakes in such leading firms as Air France, France Telecom, Renault, and Thales. It maintains a strong presence in some sectors, particularly power, public transport, and defence industries. The telecommunications sector is gradually being opened to competition. France's leaders remain committed to a capitalism in which they maintain social equity by means of laws, tax policies, and social spending that reduce income disparity and the impact of free markets on public health and welfare. Widespread opposition to labour reform has in recent years hampered the government's ability to revitalize the economy. During 2007-08, the government implemented several important labour reforms, including a de facto extension of the 35-hour workweek by allowing employees to work longer overtime hours. During 2009, the government is expected to delay or even renounce other reform efforts due to the on-going financial crisis. GDP growth dropped to 0.3% in 2008; the French government plans to increase public investment and continue injecting capital into the banking sector to alleviate the negative effects of the crisis during 2009. As a result of lower fiscal revenues and increased expenditures the general government deficit is expected to exceed the euro zone ceiling 3% of GDP. France's tax burden remains one of the highest in Europe, at nearly 50% of GDP in 2005. With at least 75 million foreign tourists per year, France is the most visited country in the world and maintains the third largest income in the world from tourism.

The Property Buying Process: The French property buying process is actually very straightforward and is very well regulated. Every year many thousands of foreign buyers purchase in France without problems or complications. As with property purchase in any country there can be problems, but most of them are encountered because buyers have not understood properly what they need to do in advance and how the process works, especially if they do not speak or understand any French.

 

The Initial Agreement of Sale: An agreement is negotiated between the buyer and the seller and the initial contract which is called a “Contrat Sous-seing Privé” agreement, if drawn up by a French  Agent, or a “Compromis de Vente”, if prepared by the Notaire. It is then signed by both parties. This is a legal document, binding on both parties and should not be taken lightly. At this stage the buyer pays a deposit of a minimum of 10% of the purchase price which remains `blocked' in a special account at the Notaires office until such time as completion takes place or the purchase is aborted. During this stage the property is taken off the market.

There are other kinds of less familiar contracts such as the “Promesse de Vente “ where the contract is not binding on both parties to the same extent as the Compromis. By signing it the vendors still commit themselves to selling the property to the purchasers, but this commitment takes the form of promising not to sell it to anyone else within a stated period which is usually 3 months. A deposit of between 5% and 10% is paid and again the purchaser will usually forfeit the deposit if they do not go ahead.

There also exist other forms of preliminary contract such as the “offre de vente”, “offre d'achat” and an “échange de letters” - none of which are recommended in preference to the “Compromis” or the “Promesse”.

Surveys: as to the condition of a property that you intend to purchase by professional surveyors are unusual in France. It is more usual to request local artisans to give an opinion as to the condition of say the roof, or the walls and for them to give quotations for the work.

French buyers would be more likely to approach an architect or 'expert' but even then it is unusual for them to be asked to prepare a detailed report as has become normal in certain European countries. It is certainly prudent to carry all this investigative work before signing the “Compromis” as once this agreement has been reached, as mentioned above, it becomes binding on both parties. Once the “Compromis” or “Contrat Sous-Seing Privé” has been signed there follows a period of generally 6 to 8 weeks in which the searches are carried out to ensure that the property is not subject to any imminent environmental changes and during which time the purchaser will be required to resolve the financing of the purchase.

The Notaire: The above searches and the other contractual matters are carried out by the Notaire. The Notaire is unlike most European Solicitors/Lawyers as he is not appointed to act for either party in the transaction but as a public official whose duty is to the State. Their function is to ensure that the transaction is carried out legally and accurately and in accordance with the proper processes and to give the transaction absolute validity that cannot be contested.
 
Accordingly, it is unnecessary to appoint a second Notaire to act for yourselves, although you may feel more `comfortable' having your own Notaire or perhaps European Lawyer to explain some of the points that arise which may be unclear as it unusual for Notaires to volunteer advice.


 
Mortgage/Loans: If the buyer intends to take out a mortgage then it is necessary for this to be declared at the time of the agreement and a substantive clause in the “Compromis” protects the purchaser's interests in the event that a loan is not made available.
 
In this event, the sale does not proceed and the deposit is returned. In the event of the discovery of a `planned nuisance' through the searches, the buyer can withdraw and the deposit is returned. Should, however, the buyer break the contract, the deposit is paid to the vendor as an indemnity and conversely, should the vendor break the contract, the deposit will be returned to the purchaser.

Property with land: The laws relevant to the purchase of a property in France are dependant to some degree on the type of property you decide to buy. For example, a vineyard or farm will be subject to different procedures and costs.

On the assumption that you are buying a house with 1 hectare (2.47 acres) of land or less then the procedure is as set out below.

If the house has more than 1 ha, the procedure is basically the same except that there might be intervention by The Société d'Amenagément Foncier et d'Establissement Rural (SAFER) which has an automatic right of pre-emption in order to preserve land which it feels should either continue or remain in agricultural use. It rarely exercises this right, but the Notaire (roughly the equivalent of a Solicitor/Lawyer) is under an obligation to notify the SAFER to give it the opportunity to object to the sale. Should it do so, then any agreement that you have made is null and void and you can recover the deposit that you paid upon 'exchange'

Map of France
LINKS
Investors
Investors Buy Leads
Investors Sell Leads
Buying in Europe
Andorra
Austria
Belgium
Bulgaria
Croatia
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Estonia
Finland
Germany
Gibraltar
Greece
Hungary
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Latvia
Liechtenstein
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Netherlands
Norway
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Spain
Slovakia
Slovenia
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom

Buying Worldwide
Australia
Canada
Cape Verde
Morocco
New Zealand
St Kitts and Nevis
Turkey
USA

Vendors, a Quick sale of your property
UK and Ireland
Europe

 

 

Disclaimer: This guide is for information only and should not be relied upon as definitive. Details have been obtained from various sources and although we have done everything possible to ensure that it is correct, we cannot accept responsibility for it or guarantee its accuracy. This is because processes and laws change frequently, and may vary dependant upon personal circumstances. You are welcome to use the information provided, but should always obtain confirmation of specific details and get independent specialist and legal advice in the country that the information refers to.

01-10-2009