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
Paris or superstar Angelina Jolie allegedly
buying a chateau in
Normandy to raise her kids and the
international media is all ears to everything
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
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
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.
Although ultimately a victor in World Wars I and II,
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:
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 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
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:
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
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'
Quick sale of your property