The process of buying a property in Brittany and buying property in France can seem daunting with the regulations and the language barrier. Here is some information that can help you through the process.
Find a Notaire
Once you have figured out in what general area you want to purchase property, the first step is to find a notaire who can advise you on what properties are available, and will be your main ally in the property buying process.
Notaires specialize in property and family law. They are public
officials authorized by the government to prepare private contracts and
are there to assist you. Any property transaction must meet the
requirements of French and International Law.
Brittany France is a great investment for buying property. It's amazingly beautiful and my favorite place .
A Pre-Sale Agreement is a contract between the seller and the buyer which in effect freezes the property ensuring no one else can purchase that property. The contract is normally valid for a few months during which time the notaire will prepare the sale documents. This process normally takes about 3 months but can take longer to obtain the necessary paperwork. This agreement is normally signed within a few days after the buyer and seller have reached an agreement on the property sale.
This agreement obligates the seller to sell the property and the purchaser must provide a security deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price) when the contract is signed as proof of intent to purchase. These agreements are normally prepared by your notaire.
A number of provisions (suspensive conditions) can be stipulated within the contract. These provisions stipulate that the contract will be invalidated and both parties released if certain events take place prior to the final sale e.g if the purchaser's mortgage application is rejected, certifcate d'urbanisme (confirmation of planning approval) is not approved, problems arising from the inspection reports etc. These Suspensive conditions have to be agreed upon between the buyer and the seller and ensure that, say for example if you are buying a property and need planning permission to convert into gites, this condition is set out in the Purchase Agreement, if planning permission is refused the seller may pull out of the sale and will not lose their deposit.
Once the Agreement has been signed the buyer has a cooling off period of seven days during which time they can withdraw from the agreement and the deposit is returned in full. If after the eight days the buyer changes their mind they will lose the deposit.
It is also important to list in this agreement any items to be included in the sale.
Once all the conditions of the agreement have been met and the notaire has all the necessary paperwork the buyer and seller will meet with the notaire for the final signing of the Acte Authentique (Transfer Document). The balance of funds must also be paid including any tax and notaires fees. The notaire will read through the document and both parties will need to sign. The buyer will then receive an Attestation de Propriete (Confirmation of Purchase) and a receipt for the purchase price plus the keys to the property.
It is also worth noting that under French Law the property must be fully insured by the purchaser at the time of purchase - a certificate of insurance will be asked for by the notaire at the final signing.
Fees and Taxes
When purchasing a property it is important to ensure that you know the full costs involved. These notaires fees are primarily paid as tax. The Notaire is responsible for collecting the tax on behalf of the French Government. The tax is normally about 5% of the purchase price, together with another 2% for the notaires fees and other miscellaneous fees. It is worth checking with the notaire exactly what these fees are.
Inspections to be carried out by the Seller
When selling a property in France the seller has to inform the potential buyer everything that he or she knows about the property. Technical inspections must be carried out addressing a number of specific issues prior to the sale of the property.
Inspections Carried Out
1. If the Brittany property is co-owned the surface area must be provided pursuant to the Carrez Law. The seller must indicate to within 5% the surface area of the property and vouch for this accuracy for a period of one year after the sale. Services of a professional Surveyor or “Geometre” are normally used to take these measurements.
2. Since 1 September 2002 detached properties must be tested for Asbestos. For properties in Brittany built before 1 July 1997 a test for Asbestos must be carried out. This test must be carried out by an authorized, insured professional.
3. Depending on location two other tests may be required as well for termites and lead. If a department is classified as termite-infested a report must be provided by the seller carried out by a qualified, insured professional. With testing for Lead if any department is deemed at high risk for lead exposure properties constructed before 1 January 1948 must have been inspected within the previous year. A copy of this report must be sent to the departmental prefect.
4. From 2005 All Septic tanks must comply with EU Regulations so it is worth asking for a certificate of conformity from the seller.
It is useful to have this English translation of terms handy when you are in the process of buying in Brittany buying property in France.
Glossary of Terms
Accompte - Deposit
Acte Authentique - Transfer Document drawn up by the Notaire
Agence Immobilière - Estate Agent
Amiante - Asbetos
Attestation de Propriete - Confirmation of Purchase
Bon de Visite - Form completed by a person before they view a property. This form means that if for a set period of time you wish to purchase the property viewed you must purchase it through the Notaire or Agent you signed the form with.
Cadastre - Register for local town planning
Carte Professionelle - Professional registration of an Estate Agency
Certifcate d'urbanisme - Confirmation of Planning Permission
Clause Suspensive - Suspension Clauses which can be included in the initial agreement for purchase
Compromis de Vente - Purchase Agreement Drawn up between the buyer and seller of the property.
DDE - Department of the Environment (responsible to the Mairies as instructors for planning permissions etc.)
Etude de Sol - Test carried out for permission for a Septic Tank
Fosse Septique - Septic Tank
Hypothèque- mortgage encumbering the property as a security for the payment of money
Immobilier - Property or Estate Agent
Impot - Tax
Mandat - Form
Mandat de Recherche - Form which a buyer signs when engaging an agency to search for a property
Notaire - Public Official authorised by the French Government to prepare private contracts
Permis de Construire - Planning Permission
Promesse de Vente - Undertaking to sell the property
Taxe D'Habitation - Habitation Tax payable for occupation of a property
Taxe Fonciere - tax payable for ownership of a property
Toutes Taxes Comprise (TTC) - price includes all sales taxes
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