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Finding Property

France - Finding Property

In France, estate agents are subject to much stricter regulations than they are in the UK. However, as you know you are paying for expertise and qualifications they can also prove to be more expensive. When you meet with an estate agent you should check that they have the ‘carte professionnelle’ which is numbered. They should also be in possession of a numbered guarantee for any funds deposited with them and be insured to hold funds. Those who do not have these are trading illegally and there are many who do try this. It is a good idea to use an estate agent that is a member of the ‘Federation Nationale de l’Immobilier’ (FNAIM).

You can use a buyer’s agent to purchase a property in France, particularly if you want the sale to go through before you are able to move to the country. As with the estate agents in general, you should make sure that the person you hire to represent you is registered.

The ‘carte professionnelle’ is issued annually and is only given to those who have provided proof that they are competent to do the job. Many estate agents who are registered have qualifications in property law or have a great deal of experience in the industry. If you ask to see the ‘carte’ then it should be produced by the agent, no questions asked. By law, a French agent is also required to display at the place of work a notice which gives details of the licence and this should also appear on their stationery, such as business cards and headed notepaper. However, the agent will only need to be registered if they are actually dealing with the sale or purchase of a property. There are many ‘agents’ who simply list properties for sale and have very little to do with the actual transaction and these do not require a license.

French estate agents have their commission paid by the buyer rather than the seller and the amount is set out in the contract that is formed with the seller. The rates will vary from agent to agent but many will charge around 8% of the asking price, although rates of just 5% are not uncommon if the asking price is more than €100,000. The agreement will also detail if the VAT is included in the mentioned amount. If not then buyers should budget for an extra 19.6% of the set fee.

There are many places now where there are properties listed for sale. The internet is the main source of information for many house hunters and there are many websites which market properties for sale. As a result there are many international websites which list properties in France such as www.findaproperty.com and various others. These are not to be confused with estate agents websites. The internet is the most convenient option for most buyers, as searches can be carried out quickly and easily and can be filtered by price and region, saving a great deal of time.

Local newspapers and regional magazines often have listings too. If you are already in France when you decide to begin searching for a property to buy then there are a number of English language publications aimed at expats which carry property listings.

Property auctions in France are becoming an increasingly popular way to find a new home and there are two types of auctions. The first is known as a voluntary auction (ajudications volontaires) and these are run through a notary. The people selling are usually those who own their own property or those who are selling the estate of a deceased person. These auctions are common after a person has died, as selling the estate this way means that the transactions are clear and there can be no disputes. The second type of auction is the judicial auction (ajudications judiciaries). These are held through a ‘tribunal de grande instance’ with the public only able to bid for a property via a lawyer. This type of auction is usually organised by the courts and may be held if a person has lost their house through bankruptcy or if a will has been disputed. Most people who search for property and buy at an auction will do so through a voluntary auction and the local notaries are the best people to ask for details on the next auction.

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