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Selling houses in France

A guide to selling houses in France

Selling houses in France involves doing some homework

If you have just moved into your dream house in France, the thought of selling it may be far from your mind. There are, however, many reasons why one day you may take the decision to put your French property on the market, so to maximise your chances of a fast and straightforward sale, it is well worth doing a little homework.

Selling houses in France - part one

If you are selling your house because you are returning to the UK, it depends on whether or not you have a pressing need to sell quickly as to how you should market your French house. If you are in no particular hurry, it may be possible for you to remain resident in the house until a sale is completed, and this avoids many problems of trying to market an empty house. Any agent will tell you, a house that is clearly a happy and well loved home will appeal more to buyers than an empty space, devoid of the warmth and cheer that tends to come from being occupied. (This is, of course, dependant on the home being well maintained and prepared for viewings... I did visit one farm house for sale in France to find sheep in the kitchen, sacks of corn stored in the hall, dirty clothes all over the floor in the bedrooms and bare light bulbs hanging everywhere... none of which worked!)

Selling your French property with the help of a guardian

If, for any reason, you are unable to remain in France for the length of time necessary to complete the sale, you may wish to consider employing a guardian. This person will live in the property and maintain it, overseeing viewings when necessary and keeping the grounds tidy and appealing. You will usually have to negotiate a small fee in return for this service as well as the rent free accommodation, but many find that this is a much better solution than worrying about trying to sell an empty and uncared for house. Finding a suitable guardian is best done by word of mouth, but you can usually find adverts on the Internet on sites such as this, in English language newspapers such as French News, on the Petits Annonces boards in local supermarkets and perhaps in bars and clubs where English speakers gather.

Selling houses in France - part two

It may be, of course, that you are not selling your French property in order to return to the UK at all, but are moving on within France. You may be downsizing because the children have left home, or up sizing because of an impending increase in either the size of your family or your wage packet! There seems to be a mistaken belief amongst British people who are seeking to buy property in France that if ex-pats are selling up, they must be returning to the UK with their tails between their legs having failed to make a success of life in France (Life in France). With many cases, nothing could be further from the truth.

Selling French property - a personal experience

Jackie and John Stewart are currently selling their home in the Charente-Maritime department of western France (Charente-Maritime Property Guide). I asked Jackie a few questions about the process from her perspective. The answers were interesting and certainly give the lie to the idea that everyone selling a French property is giving up and returning to the UK. Jackie informed me that the reason that their house is currently on the market has more to do with the slowing of the British housing market than any kind of unhappiness concerning life in France. Their property in the UK has failed to sell, although there were a couple of false alarms that prompted them to purchase the Charente-Maritime house, believing that the money from the sale would soon be through to enable them to complete the works they envisaged on the house in France. Unfortunately this sale collapsed, and the couple have since had to rent out the English house in order to pay for the French one.

Reasons for selling their French property

Difficulties there may be, but going back is far from on the agenda. "Going back to the UK?" says Jackie, in an incredulous tone. "No way! We wouldn't go back for all the tea in China. We love it here, and now we are getting the hang of the language I really feel like we belong." (Learning French.) The Stewarts are selling their Charentaise Maison de Maitre with Chambre d'Hôtes for two main reasons. One is to release more finances, and the other is because they are now eager to try life in a different region of France, craving the peace and beauty of the mountains in the Hautes-Pyrénées region that lies close to the Spanish border (Hautes-Pyrénées Property Guide).

Selling houses in France - ways to do this

There are different ways to go about selling houses in France, and it is up to you to decide which path you want to follow.

Selling houses in France through a website

Jackie and John Stewart have decided to eschew the local estate agents or Immobiliers, preferring instead to create their own website to showcase their house (www.freewebs.com/chezboyer). This can be an excellent way to sell a property in France, especially as many British and other foreign buyers do most of their initial searching on the Internet, reverting to the costly personal trips to France once there is a short-list of promising properties drawn up. A well thought out website can create lots of interest from UK buyers, especially if you increase the chances of exposure by placing an ad linking to your site with a site such as this one, French Property Links (FPL), which comes to the top of most of the major search engines, including Google. When I bought my house in the Aude, in southern France, in 2004, I had never heard of FPL, yet my Google search for a four-bedroomed farmhouse with land in this area took me straight to the FPL site and an advert with links to an extensive website showing the house that I now live in and love! (Selling With Your Own Property Website.)

Selling houses in France through an agent

If you do decide to employ an agent, remember that you can register your property with more than one agent as this is common practice here (French estate agents). It is, in fact, possibly advisable to do so, as Tim and Freya Bennett, who have just successfully completed the sale of their house near Toulouse (Toulouse Property Guide), advise. "In our experience, once we added the competitive element of asking two or three agents to advertise the house, things hotted up considerably. From having had a slow start we suddenly found ourselves with three viewings booked, the third couple being the eventual buyers.'

Use a bi-lingual agent

It is also a good idea to use a bi-lingual agent, even if you speak French well yourself. This way you will find British buyers more likely to proceed with further viewings and purchases as they feel more confident that they can obtain the help and advice they need. An agency such as Hamilton Immo ( www.hamiltonimmo.com) based in south-west France, are able to supply bi-lingual agents with lots of experience, and this can be a great help in encouraging British buyers to get in touch and make appointments to view. They also have links with Savills International in the UK, among others, thus extending the exposure of properties to a much broader market.

The buyer usually pays the agency fees in France

It is also worth noting that in many cases in France, it is the buyer who pays the agency fees, not the seller (Buying a French Property - The Fees). These fees are either separate and in addition to the cost of the property being bought, or included in the final cost of the property, as agreed by all parties. Hamiltons, whose experience with British buyers has shown that this practice can cause real problems, are an exception to the rule, and agree the fee with the seller before the sale thus avoiding potential problems for the unsuspecting buyer in the future.

Selling houses in France and agency fees

It is sometimes said that using an agent in France is too expensive. Certainly, fees in France tend to be higher, but you get a lot more for your money, as Dominic Wedderburn, who has worked in both the UK and France as an estate agent explains. "In the UK, the agent would carry out one visit to a property to take all the details for putting the property on the market... and that would be the end of his direct involvement with the seller. In country house sales, the agent would rarely meet the buyer face to face as it would be the office that would organise viewings and show potential buyers around. Negotiations would often be done by phone or fax. In France, however, the agent has a much closer link with all parties, liaising between them to make sure that the Notaire can process the sale efficiently, and will even be there at the final signing to help with translation, advise on procedures, and to iron out any last minute glitches."

Selling houses in France - expert opinions

One thing that you must do as seller of a property in France is to ensure that the proper checks for asbestos and termites are carried out before the final documents are signed. This is the responsibility of the seller, and not having the checks correctly completed could constitute a reason for the sale to be nullified. It also seems that France is getting its own version of HIPS! At the time of writing, (there are more possible changes afoot) a survey, paid for by the seller, is required, and covers such issues as electrical and gas connections (do they meet current standards?) and even ecological efficiency (how green is your house?). It does not, however, provide structural information to the buyer, and a separate survey should be commissioned by the buyer if this is required.

Selling houses in France and capital gains tax

If you are selling your French property as your principal residence, you will not be liable for capital gains tax (CGT) on the proceeds of the sale. If however, the French property you are selling is not you main residence (note that for your French property to be counted as your main residence you must be registered as a tax resident in France), you must allow for a CGT on top of your other expenses, unless you have owned the property for over thirty years.

The selling process in France

The selling process is different in France from in the UK. A Compromis de Vente is usually signed after the parties have agreed a price and any conditions, and this effectively secures the sale unless the conditions stipulated are not met. There is, however, a cooling off period of eight days allowed after the signing of the initial agreement, but after this sellers and buyers can relax and enjoy a distinctly greater peace of mind than they would in a similar situation in England. (Property sales in France.)

Remember to detail everything included in the sale

Sellers should note that at this point, they also need to detail clearly items that are to be included in the sale. It is quite common in France to remove even fixed items such as light fittings, and if you have English buyers who are not used to this it is a wise move to tell them if you are planning to do this, just to maintain goodwill! The last stage in the selling process is the signing of the final act, usually done in the presence of the presiding Notaire. It is common in France for both buyers and sellers to use the same Notaire, and there is not considered to be any conflict of interest involved in doing so.

The British and French property markets

If the British market is in a downturn, or at least, is experiencing a fairly flat period, in what way does this impact on the French market? There is a knock on effect, in as much as British buyers who are unable to sell their houses in the UK may be deterred... although many, like the Stewarts, find a way around the problem. Houses in the UK are not now fetching the ridiculous sums of a couple of years ago, but in relation to most regions of France, there is still a healthy gap between the price of property in the UK and that of a similar property in France.

Selling houses in France - how long does it take?

How long is a piece of string? It is impossible to generalise. The French market, however, has always taken its time (as do the French in most aspects of life!), so it may be better not to expect things to happen too fast. That said, a good property in a desirable location will always sell if it is well marketed and, most important of all, sensibly priced.

Selling houses in France depends on value for money

Monica Lancaster of Ma Maison (Mamaison-fpm@wanadoo.fr) in Castelnaudary (Castelnaudary Property Guide), has just sold a couple of properties in the area despite talk of a slowdown. "Property in all price brackets is selling," she told me, "... it isn't so much the price bracket that is the issue but the value for money. Buyers at the moment want to think that they are getting value for money, so realistic pricing is key to a fast sale. Two houses that I have sold recently have been priced respectively at 164,000 Euros (a flat in town) and 780,000 Euros (a beautiful country mas). Both were in good condition, well prepared for sale, and both were priced to sell, although not 'too' cheap."

Be aware of exchange rates

Monica also counsels keeping a weather eye on the exchange rate, which has been fluctuating somewhat of late, as this can have a significant effect on sales. There's not a lot you can do about it, of course, but it does help to be aware of the market you are dealing in when you come to decide on a time to sell and a realistic pricing. (Currency exchange options which save you money, Advantages of using a currency broker or foreign exchange specialist.)

Selling houses in France is much like selling houses in the UK

Selling your house in France may differ in some respects from selling in the UK, but the basic principles remain the same. Do your homework, prepare the property to reflect its best features, market it carefully, be honest with potential buyers, and be realistic about the price. Good properties at the right price will always find buyers, so if your house isn't selling it may be time to review either your presentation or the price. France remains a popular destination for British buyers, and even if the market cools for a while there is no need for panic as the British property seeker's love affair with La Belle France doesn't appear to be going to change for a long time.

Additional articles which may be of interest:

Property in France - Getting More Info
Estate Agents in France
Letting property in France
House Renovations in France

About the author

Joanna Simm moved to the Languedoc area of south-west France in October 2004 having found her property through French Property Links.

your questions...

1. A question about who pays for surveys (added 12/3/09)...

We have found a buyer for our French home as we have to return to the UK. Can you tell me who has to pay for the asbestos, lead and electricity surveys? When we bought the house we paid for lead and asbestos, the electricity was not law then.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. It is the vendor who normally pays for the surveys by "experts" that need to be done in order to exchange contracts. Though I would guess this may vary in certain circumstances.

2. A question about Capital Gains Tax or CGT (added 22/4/09)...

We wish to sell our holiday/second home in France and wish to know if we have to pay CGT in England and/or in France. And what would be the respective rates? What would be the procedures involved? Many thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that CGT would be payable in France, on a second home in France, as long as you have owned the property for under fifteen years. (If you have owned it for longer than fifteen years, no CGT is paid in France, though it may still have to be paid in the UK.) Assuming you are an EU citizen and you are not a French resident, this is at a rate of 16%. Under the terms of the Double Tax Treaty, this will let you off paying the full amount of CGT in the UK, though you will have to pay the difference, if the CGT rate in the UK is higher than the rate you have paid in France.

However, the amount of CGT paid in France can be reduced slightly if you've owned the property for more than five years, with a reduction of 10% of your CGT for every year over five years that you've owned the property. Also if you've renovated your property, having had work done by French-registered professionals (and have receipts), these costs can usually also be taken into account and offset against your French CGT bill.

The Notaire who is handling the sale will generally sort out the CGT bill and pay it directly to the authorities from the proceeds of the sale. However, they may direct you to an agency such as SARF to handle. A commission will then have to be paid to them. Some banks also have tax representatives able to do this, again there will be a charge.

I hope this information is of use. Though as I am not an expert in these matters, you may like to contact a solicitor for accurate information, perhaps using the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

3. A question about the signing papers (added 15/10/09)...

Dear Sir or Madam - I am writing to ask for advice. We are in the process of selling our house in Alsace and have been told by our estate agent that we have to be in France to sign the papers. Is there any way around this? Can we not sign it here in front of witnesses and then post the contract back to the notaire?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in contact with my colleague in France who says:

"I know some of the paper work can be done by post but when we bought here both us (the buyers) and the sellers had to be present with the notaire at one stage. This was when we did the documentation for the tontine clause, to afford protection against the extremes of French inheritance law."

You do not say what stage you are at, but if all parties cannot be present at the signing of the Acte du Vente, the Power of Attorney can usually be given to the Notaire who would act on your behalf.

However, as we are not experts in this matter, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor for accurate advice, perhaps using the following link:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

4. A question about selling a relatively new house (added 12/11/09)...

I have found your articles to be very useful. However, I cannot seem to find any information about the tax cost of selling a new house that is less than seven years old. The question is: How much tax do you have to pay for selling a house that is still quite new? We heard that there is greater tax to pay if you sell your house before it is seven years old. Our house is three years old and we want to move. What is the tax implication for selling so early? Thanks for any advice.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. You do not say if you are a French resident and this property is your main residence, but whether you are or not, I understand that TVA would be charged on new houses if the house is sold within five years of completion. If this is not your principal residence and you are not a French resident, you would also have to pay CGT. However, as I am not an expert in these matters, for the exact amounts of tax payable I would suggest you contact your notaire who should be able to help, or you may like to contact a solicitor for accurate information, perhaps using the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

5. A question about time limits (added 24/12/09)...

We exchanged contracts on our house in France in August. The buyer was getting divorced so didn't want to complete until the divorce was finalised. It's now been three months. Is there a French law as to how long the buyer is allowed to "stall" for?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I am unaware of any time limit for buyers, I would say it is dependent on how long the sellers are prepared to wait, but as I am not an expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor. If you fill out the form on the following page, a legal advisor will get back to you:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

Alternatively, you could contact a company from our Legal Services page:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/memberscat.asp?category=LEGAL

I wish you all the best with the sale of your house.

6. A question about plus value taxe (added 29/1/10)...

I am selling my house in France and am worried about having to pay plu value. The house is my principal dwelling and I live and work in France. When I moved to France my parents and myself brought two houses on the same plot, one was a house that needed love and care and the smaller house, mine needed renovating. Up until last year I was using the same electric supply that runs from my parents' home but my mother fell ill so they decided to move back to England and sell the bigger of the two houses. Originally they were on the same set of deeds but are now separate, the smaller property has been in my name for over four years and last year I had a separate electric and water supply because I could no longer use the supply from my parents' home. I have now been told by several people that because it had a new water and electric supply even though the house was built thirty years ago or more, it's classed as a new build and I will have to pay plu value on it if it sells. The amount of time and money the house has cost will mean if I pay the plu value I will make a loss on my house. Any advice will be most appreciated. Thanks.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I understand that plus value taxe or capital gains tax (I am assuming by "plu value" you are referring to "plus value taxe") does not have to be paid on the sale of a house in France (irrespective of whether it is a new build or not) if the house is owned by a French resident, it is their main home, and they have owned it for more than a year. (I understand that TVA would be charged on new houses if the house is sold within five years of completion.)

However, as I am not an expert in these matters and am not sure if having a new electricity or water supply then puts a house into the "new house" category for TVA, I would suggest you contact your notaire who should be able to help, or you may like to contact a solicitor for accurate information, perhaps using the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

7. A question about CGT on a second home in France (added 22/7/10)...

Hello - I have just been reading your response to a question re: CGT on a secondary home in France, and wanted to be sure I understood your answer. My initial understanding was that if you were a UK resident but wanted to sell a second residence in France, you were liable to pay CGT in France and then the difference in UK. We have owned our residence for seven years and if we were to sell now, we would pay the French rate @ 16% minus the 10% for each year after 5 years etc, but would still have to pay the difference in UK (minus what was paid in France) currently @ 18% and possibly going up to 40%!!! From what I gathered, your answer implied that being EU citizens, we would not have to pay UK CGT if we paid it in France? If that is the case, if we owned the property for a full fifteen years, would that mean we would pay nothing to either country? I'm so confused!

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I'm afraid I tend to agree with everything you say apart from at the end. As a UK resident selling a second home in France, I understand you are liable to pay CGT in France (at the French rate) and then the difference in UK (at the UK rate). As long as the UK CGT rate is more than the French rate, you will always have to pay CGT to the UK tax office. So if you owned your house in France for more than 15 years, you might not have to pay CGT in France, but you would have to pay the full CGT tax bill in the UK, at whatever rate was applicable in the UK at the time.

However, as I am not an expert in these matters, you may wish to check with a legal advisor for accurate advice, perhaps using the following link:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

8. A question about proving UK residency (added 23/11/10)...

I was very interested in reading your article about selling a house in France. We have sold and are about to sign the final contract, we have owned here for over five years. However we are concerned about a request by the principal notaire that we produce a utility bill from our house in England to prove our UK residency. Although we own property in England it is currently let out and we have been living with my son throughout 2010 overall for about seven months. What would we have to do to overcome this problem re: the utility bill?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I assume you have explained all this to the notaire and asked what other form of proof he would accept? I think to prove residency you could show the following:

1. UK driving licence with current UK address.
2. Vehicle registration document with current UK address.
3. Documents to do with the house you own and are renting out. Perhaps documents showing ownership (a letter from your solicitor confirming purchase of the property) or details of your rental contract with your tenants.

What about your listing on the UK electoral register, do you have something to show you are on this? Or can you get something?

If having spoken to your notaire you still have problems, I would suggest you speak to a legal advisor, perhaps one from our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm
http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/memberscat.asp?category=LEGAL

9. A question about TVA (added 23/11/10)...

Hi - we are looking to sell our house in France. It is our "residence principale" and we both work, pay tax and have lived in France full-time since 2006. We bought this house in 2008 and now after some refurbishment including a pool and summer kitchen, have decided to sell as I have a job opportunity in the centre of France. Are you able to tell me how to calculate the TVA that we will have to pay on this sale? We bought it for 300k and are looking to sell it for around 400k? Could you also tell us if there are any deductions for work that we have had done over the two and a half years that we have owned it?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. With regard to the sale of your property, my understanding is that TVA is payable on goods bought not on property sold, and that it would be French capital gains tax that one might have to pay for selling a property. Although, if this is your main residence then you would be exempt from this.

However, as I am not an expert in such matters, I would suggest that you contact a legal advisor, perhaps one from our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

10. A question about receiving a cash payment on selling a house (added 14/4/11)...

I'm selling a house in France and a couple of prospective buyers have offered to pay the sale price of about 195,000 Euros, but want to pay about one quarter in cash and so reduce the price paid as far as the notaire is concerned. Can you tell me what is the advantage of this both to me as seller and the purchaser? Is it common and is it illegal?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. If the price of your property noted in all legal documentation was reduced from the actual selling price and you received the difference in cash, the fees involved in buying and selling the property would also reduce (not just the notaire's fees), as most of the fees involved are based on the property selling price noted in the legal documentation. So the buyers and sellers would both benefit from paying lower fees, though I would say the buyer would benefit more, as he would have more fees to pay in the first place - half the notaire conveyancing fee, notaire sales commision if no estate agent used or estate agent fee if one used, stamp duty, land registry.

You as the seller should just have half the notaire's conveyancing fee to pay (apart from any solicitor's fees or fees for expert opinions).

However, I do not think for one minute that this is legal, though I do understand it does happen. And as I am not an expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor for accurate advice, perhaps using the following page from our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

11. A question about tax on selling a new build (added 14/4/11)...

Please could you advise what tax is due on the sale of a newly built property i.e built in 2008. We have been told 5% but is that 5% on the total sale or on any capital gains from the sale over and above the originial cost?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Tax on the sale of a new property (less than five years old) in France depends on whether you are a resident in France and if it is your main residence. If both applies to you, then I believe you would not be subject to TVA (VAT) tax on the sale price any more, due to changes in tax laws. Stamp duty at 5.09% would be paid by the purchaser. No plus values (CGT) would be payable.

If you are not a French resident and this is a second home, then I understand that CGT would be payable. Assuming you are an EU citizen and you are not a French resident, this is at a rate of 16%. It would be paid on the difference between your purchase price and your selling price. And if you are a UK resident selling a second home in France, I understand you are liable to pay CGT in France (at the French rate) and then the difference in UK (at the UK rate).

However, tax laws change regularly, and as I am not an expert in these matters, you may like to contact a solicitor for accurate information, perhaps using the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

12. A question about pulling out of a sale (added 20/5/11)...

Hi, I don't know if you are able to offer any advice, we have had our house on the market for six months, and the agent has now found someone offering full asking price, and wants to complete quickly. The only problem is we feel like we might be making a mistake selling after falling in love with it again! If we instruct the agent we no longer wish to sell at this late stage will we incur any fees?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I think it would depend on what you have agreed with your agent and what papers you have signed with them, if any, so it would be worth checking through these first. The agents might have a clause which mentions fees involved at this stage of the proceedings.

It is also possible that you do not have to pay anything, should you pull out of the sale, but I cannot tell from my position.

If you would like expert advice on this, you may like to contact a legal adviser, perhaps using the following page from our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

13. Questions about Notaires (added 22/7/11)...

I have read with interest your site and its links but can find no information regarding the following two points:

1. If both the seller and buyer use the same Notaire, it appears to be the custom in Normandy that the Notaire's fees are included in the selling price and, therefore, paid by the buyer. Is this standard practice?

2. At what point and how does the Notaire enter the selling process?

I would appreciate your advice.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. In answer to your questions:

1. Yes, I understand it is normal practice for the buyer to pay the Notaire's fees.

2. The Notaire becomes involved at the "Exchange of Contracts - Compromis du Vente" stage. See our article "Property sales in France" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/essential/property-sales-france.html).

14. A question about CGT (added 22/7/11)...

We are UK residents now wanting to sell our second home in France. We have owned it for twelve years. Has anything changed to French CGT since you last answered this question on 22/7/10? Our estate agent has told us that there is now no longer any taper relief, so will have to pay the full 16% CGT in France unless we hold off for a further three years (as no CGT payable after 15 years). We understand that any balance of CGT will have to be paid to the UK authorities but in our case this can be partially offset through UK losses, so not quite as painful as paying 16% to the French tax authorities. Confirmation from yourselves that this is now the case would be much appreciated (and confirmation that there has been no change since you last answered this question would be even more appreciated!). Many thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I was not aware that the laws had changed regarding the taper relief system. I thought this still applied at a 10% reduction on capital gain for each year owned after five years. I do think however, that the CGT tax rate is now 19%, not 16%, as from 1 January 2011.

But as in my previous answer, you may wish to check with a legal advisor for accurate advice, perhaps using the following link:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

15. A question about when full payment is received (added 8/9/11)...

Hello, we currently have our house on the market in France and are hoping to move back to the UK once we have a firm buyer. Whenever we sold any of our houses in UK we always received the money into our bank by approximately 12 o'clock on the day of completion and moved out and in to the next property (chain). I can not get a firm answer from anybody in France as to whether the money for the purchase is paid in by telegraphic transfer into our UK bank on the day of completion and vacation, we have had varying stories from "It can take up to six weeks before you receive your money" to "it takes about a week for the funds to be transferred" and "Oh, you get your money on the day of completion". If it is a matter of waiting six weeks for your funds to be transferred how are we supposed to buy another house to move into as there will be a gap! Sorry if this sounds dim but I am wondering if I have missed a point somewhere along the line. We are registered here for tax so there is no CGT concerned and when we bought this house we paid the Notaire with a Banker's Draft for the whole amount. I would feel a bit nervous of sending all the furniture off and leaving France without the money before the house reaches our bank account!

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna in France, and both of us think that cleared payment should be received by you on the day of completion as in the UK. However, this all is done by the notaire and down to him (as in the UK it is in the hands of a solicitor), so it would be best to confirm this with him.

16. A question about receiving payment for an apartment (added 11/10/11)...

Hello, I have recently sold my apartment in France. It has now been four weeks and still have not received payment from the Notaire although I have handed over the keys. I have been totally kept in the dark as when payment will be received and unable to make any plans.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Usually full payment is received on the day of completion when the Acte du Vente is signed. However, this all is done by the notaire and down to him (as in the UK it is in the hands of a solicitor), so I think you need to pursue him for the funds, or at least find out what the hold up is.

Should you need help from a legal advisor you could use the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

I wish you all the best with obtaining your money.

17. A question about receiving payment for a property in Pounds (added 8/12/11)...

Good Morning - we have a potential buyer for our house in France. We are returning to the UK. We believe that the buyers can pay in sterling, is this possible? If yes, would the notaire arrange it?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Though I'm afraid both my colleague Joanna in France and myself are unsure if it is possible to receive payment for a house in France in Pounds. As it goes through the French system it may need to be in Euros, or if paid in Pounds then converted to Euros.

However, the person who would sort it out would be the notaire, so the best person to ask would be him.

18. A question about Notaires (added 31/1/12)...

Although we do not intend to sell our second home here in France for the moment, we understand that we are obliged to appoint a Fiscal Representative to act on our behalf when we do and return to England. If this is the case, how do we locate such a person or association and how much do they normally charge? Is there a comprehensive list of all the documents that are needed to complete a sale?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. We have several articles on our site in our Essential Info section under French Property Sales, which I am unsure if you have read. Between them they should answer your questions. These include:

1. Property sales in France
2. Buying a French Property - The Fees (helpful for sellers too!)
3. Diagnostic Immobilier and selling property in France

amongst others.

A Notaire is the legal representative you will need to assist you in completing the sale of your house. You could ask your Mairie to recommend one, or even your estate agent.

19. A question about having to notify the Maire (added 29/3/12)...

We are selling our house in France. Do we have to tell the Mayor in our village? If so how much notice does he need?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna in France, and both of us are unaware that the Mayor in your village needs to be told if you want to sell your house. They would most probably find out about it, through your estate agent or notaire, but we do not think you need to tell them, or give notice.

I know when you have work done on your house and need planning permission, the Mairie would need to be notified, but I don't think for selling a house this is the case.

20. A question about requests made by buyers (added 29/3/12)...

We are almost at completion stage of selling our house in France but have just been told we have to show the buyer how to fire up the gas boiler and the cooker before the sale can go ahead. Is this normal practice?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I think it is common for new buyers to want to know how things work in the house they are buying, so I do not think this request particularly strange. I guess if you didn't want to do this they may think something is up with the boiler and cooker, so I would think it is in your interests to do this if it helps the sale along.

21. A question about fiscal representatives and their charges (added 7/6/12)...

Please could you tell me if I have to have a fiscal representative to sort the tax liability out on a property we are selling at a loss on a new build off plan purchased three years ago. If so how much should that representative charge? Thank you.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting. As tax affairs can be complex and I am no expert in these matters, I would suggest you get accurate advice from a legal advisor, or your notaire. And as charges vary throughout France, I am unable to advise you on cost I'm afraid.

You could also contact the legal advisors we have on our site to check on this.

22. A question about liability for house insurance once the property is sold (added 31/7/12)...

I had a house in France and paid house insurance for 2010/2011 but then I sold the house in Jan 2011. I wrote and cancelled this and also cancelled the d/d with the bank. I have now been contacted by a debt agency saying I owe last year's insurance. How can I when I sold the house and informed them of this?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. My colleague Joanna says:

"Firstly, try arguing it with the insurance company by sending copies of all correspondence and payments, sale documents etc. But, there may be a clause that says you have to give so many months notice before cancelling the insurance. So check that too and see if you have waited the required number of months before stopping payment. Some firms have this clause, certainly for car insurance they do."

If you get nowhere, perhaps you could contact Schreinemachers (http://www.insurance.fr/) who seem to be very helpful with all insurance issues.

Or the following insurance agents:

Claire Martinet or Frank Haloche
Agent General
37 Rue Amiral Courbet
53500 ERNEE

Tel: 02 43 05 21 82
Email: 4005417@agents.allianz.fr

23. A question about finding English-speaking Notaires (added 27/11/12)...

I have a house in France up for sale and I have a very interested buyer here in UK. My question is, the estate agent I have appointed to do the selling is not helping me alot. I'm worried about the Notaire as I have sent alot of emails and no reply at all. Can you help me to find a good English-speaking Notaire in Languedoc? Or it is legal to get a Notaire here in the UK?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I have been in touch with my colleague Joanna, who has forwarded the following websites you might like to try:

http://the-languedoc-page.com/property/notaires.htm
http://www.immonot.com/rechercher-un-notaire.html
http://www.heslop-platt.co.uk/

She thinks you will need a Notaire in France, though obviously you can also use legal services in the UK as well.

24. A question about CGT (added 27/11/12)...

In all instances above you discuss CGT being liable for sale of second homes. I returned to the UK and my property in France is up for sale. This was the main residence and I am currently having to rent. Where do I stand on the CGT in this instance? Secondly I have the possibility of buying an ex-council house which is very cheap and therefore my mortgage payments would be equal to my rent. This is only until the house in France sells, at which point I would be able to use the money to buy a permanent residence back here in the UK.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. As mentioned in our article on CGT in France (see paragraph headed "Possible exemptions for UK residents), you may be eligible for a French CGT exemption. However, as I am no expert in these matters and tax issues can be complicated, with many things needing to be taken into consideration, I would suggest you contact a tax/legal advisor for accurate advice.

25. A question about Notaires transferring money on the sale of a house (added 13/12/12)...

We have just sold our house in France and have given power of atourney to our Notaire to accept the money for the sale on our behalf, which will be given to him by the buyer when the final acte is signed. He tells us it is now illegal for him to transfer that money to anywhere else than our bank account in France and not as we had hoped to a foreign currency exchange company. We are departing for the UK one day before the final acte as we have to go with the furniture to receive it the other end. Is the new law bacause other Notaires are doing this?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I haven't heard of this before, but as I am no expert in these matters, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor about this, perhaps using the following link on our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

You could also perhaps check with your Mairie?

26. A question about engaging a tax advisor (added 24/1/3)...

We're considering selling our ski chalet in France. The Notaire informs us that we would need to engage a tax advisor. The cost of this is quoted at 1% vat. On a 600k that sounds outrageous just to work out the tax to pay. Do we really need to employ someone or can we just fill the form out ourselves?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, though I have never heard of this before. Perhaps you could check with your Mairie, local estate agents or a legal advisor. Perhaps, as mentioned above, you could use the following page of our site:

French Legal Services and Solicitors
http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

(If the questions asked are not too involved, fees are not always charged.)

27. A question about passing property on to relatives (added 24/1/13)...

Hi - me, my Husband and my parents currently own an equal 1/4 each of a house in Brittany. My parents are now enjoying their twilight years and no longer visit the house with any great frequency. They would like me and my Husband to own the house outright now to save any possible complications in the future. I have e-mailed a couple of Notaires and spoken to an independent advisor but nobody seems to be particularly interested. My parents don't want any money to have to exchange hands but any Notaire fees obviously would be paid dependent on their valuation and not ours. HELP.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us, though as I am not an expert in these matters, I'm afraid I cannot be of much help. You do really need to sort this out with a legal advisor. Perhaps, as above, you could use the following page of our site:

French Legal Services and Solicitors
http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

(If the questions asked are not too involved, fees are not always charged.)

You also perhaps go and see or call the people at your Mairie, to get their advice. (Emails and faxes can be too easily ignored.)

28. A question about CGT charges (added 24/1/13)...

Help! I have a question. We sold our flat which was initially bought as a principal resident but then rented out. We sold for 200K of which 10K was the agency fee and 10K was for fittings. My Notaire wants to charge capital gains on the 200K minus 172K purchase costs and hasn't asked for receipts for building works. We owned for less than five years so cannot claim the 15% and surely we dont have to pay the CGT on the agents fee.. this is adding insult to injury??? Please advise. I don't know if this is correct or not!

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I assume you have queried this with your Notaire? If not, I would. I am no expert in these matters but certainly do not think CGT is payable on agents' fees. Also, it is usually the buyer who pays these agency fees, not the seller of property, so are you sure you have got this right? (Though this is often added to the final price the buyer pays, so this is what your situation may be.)

I would suggest if you have no luck with your Notaire, you contact a tax or legal advisor, perhaps using the following page from our site:

French Legal Services and Solicitors
http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

As mentioned above, fees are not always charged if the query is not too complicated.

29. Questions about shared ownership and selling property (added 25/7/13)...

Hi - I bought a property in France about seven years ago with another person on the assumption that we would both put the same amount of money and work into the property. Needless to say the other person has welched on the deal. I have spent the time over there renovating the property while the other person has put very little work into it. The other person now wants to sell the property where as I do not as I have put more into the place from the start. We bought the property legally both signing the documents putting in the same amount of money. Can you tell me do I have to sell and if so does the other party get 50 % as they have not put in the same amount of money or time into the project?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. I am no expert in these matters but I would say this all depends on what was signed when buying the property, and what agreements were put in place at the time. If you can't sort this out with this person amicably, perhaps buying their share if you don't want to sell, I would suggest your only course of action is to contact a legal advisor. Perhaps, as above, you could use the following page of our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

30. A question about using money from a house sale on new house purchase (added 1/9/13)...

The date for our meeting for the compromis on our house sale is arriving in the next few days. We have also found another property just nearby that we are interested in and would also like to make an offer on, and we wonder is there a way the deposit from our house sale can be used on our house purchase? We will not have enough money in our bank for a deposit on another purchase until the funds from our house sale come through. How does it work please?

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. More often than not, money from a house sale is used for the next house purchase, so this is not at all uncommon. I would speak to your Notaire about this, and your solicitor if you have one. If you don't have a legal advisor, perhaps you could use our Business Directory or the following link found on our website:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

31. A question about paperwork required (added 7/11/13)...

Could you tell me what paperwork the Notaire will require when I sell my house?Thanks.

Jo Rhodes, editor of French Property Links replies...

Thanks for contacting us. Our articles "Property Sales in France" and "Diagnostic Immobilier and selling property in France" give further information about selling a property in France. But I would think that the paperwork you would need to give to your Notaire would be the deeds to your property, if you have them, together with any guarantees of work done on your property, and the results of your DDT. However as I am no expert, I would suggest you check with a Notaire and/or estate agent to get confirmation of the paperwork needed.

32. A question about engaging a particular Notaire (added 10/12/13)...

Hi - I own a holiday home in France with my Mum. We have a buyer and are just in the process of agreeing a final price. There is a particular Notaire that has been recommended by a friend to us. I have scoured the internet for a letter of introduction but cannot find one. My French is good for day to day living but I realise a letter like this needs to be more formal. I don't wish to offend or be too casual in my intial contact as we really want her to take our house on. Can you suggest a site for an example letter? Thank you.

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us, though I'm afraid I am unable to suggest a site. Though perhaps you could ask someone at your Mairie to help you engage this Notaire? Or of course there are companies that help with this sort of thing, though payment will probably be required. (Some are listed in our Business Directory.)

Should anyone reading this be able to help, please do get in touch.

33. A question about fees requested by a Notaire (added 10/12/13)...

Hi - I am currently selling a house for a capital loss. I brought it in 2005 for 740,000 and am selling it for 525,000 Euros. My question is that I am told by my Notaire that I must pay 2,500 Euros for SARF representation for sorting out CGT. Clearly there is no gain. Can you tell me what the average cost of representation is please?

Our reply...

Thanks for contacting us. I would suggest you contact a legal advisor for help with this. Perhaps using our Business Directory or the following page on our site:

http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/frenchlegalservices.htm

And I wonder if you have confirmed this cost with SARF (http://www.sarf.fr/qui-sommes-nous_EN.php)? I'm sorry not to be of more help.

Should anyone reading this be able to offer any advice, please do get in touch.

34. A question about limits on price increases when re-selling houses (added 26/3/14)...

I sold my house in France three months ago to (according to the Notaire), a desperate young French couple with a child for 114,000 Euros which they set as the fair price. I notice now it is in the process of being sold for 172,000 Euros by the same Notaires. I am sure I read somewhere that there is a limit on price increases, and profit set by Notaires within a certain time limit. Is this the case ?

Our reply...

I'm afraid I am not aware of any limits such as those you mention. Perhaps you should query this with a legal advisor, if not another Notaire or your Mairie?

Should anyone reading this be able to offer further advice, please do get in touch.

35. A question about proof of payment of tax in the UK (added 26/3/14)...

I am in the process of finalising the sale of a chalet in France. The Notaire has asked for a letter from the tax authority confirming that I pay tax in the UK. I sent in my P60 & that didn't suffice. I am not aware that HMRC issues such a letter; do you know exactly what the Notaire is after?

Our reply...

I am afraid I am not sure what will suffice, perhaps it would be worth getting your Notaire to explain further. Or perhaps in the first instance I would contact the HMRC to see what they advise. They can be quite helpful sometimes.

Should anyone reading this be able to advise further, please do get in touch.

36. A question about CGT when selling a holiday home (added 26/3/14)...

Just wondering what are the tax implications if one sells one holiday home and buys another with the proceeds. Is CGT payable? (I am non-resident.)

Our reply...

I would suggest you contact a tax advisor about this, as what you mention was possibly a way of avoiding CGT a few years ago, but I do not think this is still the case. Perhaps you could check with Virginie Deflassieux, Catherine Le Pelley or Kirsty Green at BDO (formerly PKF) Limited. They provided much of the information in our tax articles. Contact details are as follows:

Tel: +44 1481 724561
Fax: +44 1481 711657
Email: french.tax@bdo.gg
Website: www.bdo.gg - click on French Tax

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