Wondering what do you need to know before buying property in France?



If you are purchasing a property in France you will have to go through the musts of the French system. These some of the musts you should know before you sign a purchase agreement.

1.The Cadastral Property Map

The properties in France are registered on the cadastral map. There you will find the boundaries, the address and the exact location of the property. You can find this map online or at the regional cadastral office.

2. French Inheritance law

The French inheritance law has many implications when you buy property.

The law might alter the way you purchase the property. Some people chose to purchase en tontine which is an annuity which continues until the last survivor. They do so that French inheritance rules can be bypassed. The survivor can inherit the property even though the French law states that children always inherit a stated amount. Whereas the tontine creates a situation where the survivor can inherit the whole amount by making him the sole owner of the property. The inheritance tax is applicable in this case as well. 

Another way is by creating an SCI corporate structure and the family members hold shares which are much easier to transfer.

3. Suspensive articles

The buyer should make sure that all the articles stated on the purchase agreement which cover finances are well understood. They have to cover suspense clauses such as mortgage, planning permission and any other commitments by the seller.

4. Examine the papers before you sign

Check the diagnostic papers given to you prior to signing the agreement.  This paper should cover issues such as lead, electrical and gas installations and septic tank. Sometimes in this paper are stated that there are major works to be done. In this case, you can ask for a lower price or add a conditional clause which obliges the seller to do some additional work before the actual transfer of ownership is done. The SPANC standards have to be upheld on the septic tank and the main drainage should be examined with attention.

5. Look close-up in detail

It is a matter of importance to know that the diagnostic does not mention structural points such as the roof, dry and wet rot, woodwork or even subsidence.  Therefore the property needs to be looked over in detail from people that have knowledge of buildings. They will examine the property and give you the estimate of the cost needed to bring the property to a habitual condition.

6. Living Taxes

The properties in France are subject to paying two taxes called 'tax fonciere' and 'habitation tax'. The property purchaser should examine these taxes before making the decision to buy the property. The property purchaser should know that there is no habitation tax for renovation projects. However, they should budget for taxes going up as soon as the property is renovated.

7. Block of apartments

If you're purchasing a flat in a block of flats you should check the annual charges, and whether there are any problems with the private and common facilities. The purchaser should look whether there are major renovation works to be done such as a renovation project which has been planned but has not yet started. The common problems in the building should be a matter of importance for the person purchasing the apartment.

8. Property insurance

When you are purchasing a new property which is less than 10 years old or recently renovated property you should have the opportunity to check the “Assurance Decennale” which is the insurance that covers all the building works and installations made for a period of 10 years starting from the day they were conducted. In case you have an electrical problem or sewage system problem you have to make sure these are covered.

9. Surrounding area

It is completely up to you to look after the surroundings of your property.

It can be cases that a few meters from your property a new construction is about to start and that will certainly affect the value of the building. The notaire is able to tell you for changes that affect directly your property, not on the surroundings. In this case, you can contact the mairie or check the local papers.

10. Furniture

You have to agree with the seller on furniture as well. The law is ambiguous and sometimes the owners move along with the light bulbs and the kitchen. Everything that needs to stay should be specified in the agreement.