What to expect when buying a house in France
The fees associated with buying a property in France can be alarming. This page provides a checklist of what you as a buyer can expect to pay. The main factors that affect the level of fees are:
- the age of the property (new houses attract lower charges)
- the number of people involved (lawyers, mortgage companies, surveyors etc)
- whether you buy through an estate agent
Total fees can be as low as 2% of the price of the property, but can be as high as 20%. Typically, you can expect to pay around 6-9% of the net value of the property on an older property and around 2-3% on a new build (less than five years old). Please note that most fees are paid by the buyer. However, since the introduction of a series of diagnostic tests on any property to be advertised for sale, the seller too has a liability to bear this cost (see below).
Where an agent is involved - allow between 5 and 10%. 10% is quite commonly charged.
Where an Estate agent is not used - allow up to 5%.
A Notaire's fees are calculated on a sliding scale. Thus, the higher the price of the property, the lower the percentage the Notaire will take. The amount is usually in the region of 1% (plus TVA at 19.6%).
Notaire fee percentages:
Up to 6,500 Euros - 4.784%
From 6,501 to 17,000 Euros - 1.9734%
From 17,001 to 30,000 Euros - 1.3156%
From 30,001 Euros - 0.9867%
The other fees that are paid to the Notaire but do not, in fact, ultimately go to the Notaire, are fees for stamp duty, land registry fees and other disbursements. All the Notaire's fees are usually paid by the buyer, even if the Notaire acts for both parties, which is normal as they are not supposed to protect the interests of either party over the other. If the seller instructs a different Notaire to the buyer, the fee for both Notaires is paid by the buyer. (In this case the work and fee is split between the two Notaires, it does not mean a higher cost for Notaires' fees.)
0.7% for property less than five years old, 5.09% for older properties. This is included in the fees paid to the Notaire.
Land registry fees are approximately 4.89%. These are included in the fees paid to the Notaire.
Safer is the agricultural organisation who may become involved if the property has a certain amount of land over one hectare. Any associated cost is usually included in the fees paid to the Notaire and is usually only a few hundred Euros.
Unusually for France, the burden of payment for these does not fall on the buyer, but on the seller. Before a property is advertised, approved experts must be called to report on the energy efficiency, presence of dangerous and outdated materials such as asbestos, tests on the provision for gas, electricity and sewage, and tests to establish if there is evidence of termite activity or other natural risks. Costs vary from area to area and from expert to expert, but expect to pay between 400-900 Euros for a Dossier Diagnostique Technique, or DDT. (Diagnostic Immobilier and selling property in France.)
Structural Surveys: It is not common practice in France to have a structural survey performed before buying a property, but the buyer has this option at his own expense should he wish. They vary greatly in price according to size of property etc. but as a rough guide, a basic survey may be as little as 200 Euros, while a full survey could be as much as 1,500 Euros or even higher for a very large property.
Legal Advice: If there are complicated clauses in the sale, or other complex issues, additional legal advice may be required, again at additional expense. This cost may be paid by both buyer and seller, or one or the other. Legal fees vary hugely, depending on the solicitor and also on how much work is involved.
Geometra's charge: This may or may not be necessary to ascertain and mark or realign the exact boundaries of the property, for example if the seller has sold some of his land, or if the boundaries are unclear. Expect to pay around 200 Euros for a simple job on an average sized property, more for a more complex job. This charge is paid by the seller.
TVA: TVA (Taxe à la Value Ajouté) is charged on property bought off-plan, or the property is less than five years old, and you are buying through a developer. (If you are buying a property less than five years old privately, no TVA is due.) TVA is paid at 19.6%, and is usually included in the purchase price quoted. The documentation should say "TTC" (Toutes Taxes Comprises) which means all taxes included. If you are at all unsure, confirm this with the agent/developer. And if bought off-plan or a new build, this VAT should then be re-claimable through the French government.
Mortgage Arrangement and Administration Fee - Commonly 2%
Mortgage Registration Fee - Commonly 1-2%
Mortgage Insurance - Commonly around 0.5%
I have put in an offer of 142,000 Euros on an old property in France. I am buying through an estate agent and they have quoted me fees of 9,000 Euros for the agency and 10,800 for the Notaire. But every article I have read, including reliable books on the subject and also on this, your website, quote the notaire's fees as being between 1% and 1.5% which would make a fee of 2,130 Euros at the most. Am I missing something along the way? Your help please.
Thanks for contacting us. Perhaps the amount of 10,800 Euros includes the stamp duty costs and land registry fees? The amount would then seem about right. I would certainly question the amount if these fees are not included.
Hi there - I have read that if you buy a commercial business in France eg: a campsite or old hotel, you have to pay an additional 18.6 % purchase tax on top of all other fees. Is this correct?
Thanks for contacting us. However, as I am not an expert in tax matters and these can sometimes be complicated, I would suggest you contact a legal advisor, perhaps using the following page of our site:
French Legal Services
I am hoping to buy an old house in Burgundy for 100,000 Euros and am being charged 5,000 Euros for the Notaire in his capacity as an Immobilier, and 9.000 Euros for government taxes, stamp duty etc. I feel that 14% of the total cost is rather excessive and would very much appreciate your comments on this.
Thanks for contacting us. In our article above we do say that fees can be as high as 20% of the price of the property. Certainly the 5,000 Euros and 9,000 Euros that you are being charged for an old 100,000 Euro property does not seem out of the ordinary.
However, if you are still uneasy with the costs, do query them with your Notaire.
We are trying to sell the property in SETE with our French Immobilier agent. Our asking price is 72,000 Euros. But the Immobilier agent is asking us for a "remuneration" of 7000 Euros - and to instead advertise the property for 79,000 Euros. On our contract (Mandat de vente), it states that it is the "Mandant" (meaning the seller) has to pay "la remuneration de mandantaire" of nearly 10% of the selling price. We know that they will still ask the buyer to pay another 8% fee on top of 79,000 Euros. Please advise if it is standard for the seller to pay 10% fee for selling the property? We found it quite an extortion. Please advise.
Thanks for contacting us. I understand that estate agent fees are usually paid by the buyer of the property, as would be the case here. You would not be paying the 7000 Euros, the buyer would, as they will be paying 79,000 Euros instead of 72000 Euros. The agents are just adding the commission on to the selling price, rather than taking it off. (Remember that the agent is trying to make as much as possible out of the deal.) I understand the agent is quite within his rights to demand a 10% commission for the sale of the house, though the commission rates are always negotiable. If the agent will not drop his rate and/or you do not want to advertise it for so much, perhaps you can sell through another agent?
The 8% fee you refer to on top of the 79,000 Euros may well be the Notaire's fees which must be paid by the buyer, which is separate from the estate agent's commission fees, as mentioned in our guide on fees. If this 8% is however also an estate agent's commission fee, then this I have not heard of, as the buyer would then be charged almost 18% commission, and no buyer would be happy with this. I would suggest in this case you go with another agent.
I am in the process of selling our chalet and we have received an invoice "frais d'établissemne état date" from our management company. It is for quite a lot of money & was wondering if this is normal and usually paid by the seller?
Thanks for contacting us. Both my colleague Joanna and I have not heard of this, but we would advise you to check your original contract when buying your property, or when employing your management company. If it is included and you signed, then you would be liable. It wouldn't surprise me though, to hear of a management company levying their own fees over and above those of say an estate agent or notaire.
We are in the process of buying a property in Brittany but would like to add our Notaire fees and agent fees to the mortgage. We are having problems finding a French mortgage company that do both, although our Estate Agent seems to suggest that this can be done and is normal practice. The quotes I have obtained say they will only add on the agents fees and we have to pay the Notaire separately. My question is are there any French Mortage companies that will let us add both?
Thanks for contacting us. I cannot see why the amount equivalent to your fees cannot be added to your mortgage, unless you have reached your maximum level of borrowing, though as I am not an expert in these matters, I would suggest you look at our section "French Mortgages" (http://www.frenchpropertylinks.com/mortgages.html). If you fill out the form with your query, a mortgage advisor will get back to you.
I am Singaporean would like to buy a property in France. Please let me know the procedures. Is there any extra payment needed for a foreigner to buy property in France? Thanks.
Thanks for contacting us. The process may be similar to that followed by UK residents, but I am unsure as our site is UK based. We have a lot of information about the procedures for UK residents, including the taxes and charges involved, found under our Essential Info section. Perhaps you could contact the French Embassy in Singapore to see if the procedure is the same, or if there is any extra payment needed?
We have received, in the post today, our copy of the Compromis de Vente for a property we would like to purchase in the Charente. I have yet to sit and pick through it, although I have discussed it at length with our estate agent who is British bi-lingual. One concern I have is that I understand from advice given on the net that the Notaire carries out searches after we have signed the Compromis and so how will I be able to ensure there are no plans to build hundreds of houses next door in the immediate future, or for that matter any of the issues a British search would normally warn you of before it's too late to back out?
Thanks for contacting us. I understand that if you pull out of a house purchase (due to the results of searches) once the Compromis de Vente has been signed, and it is more than seven days since this happened (you have a seven-day cool off period), you would lose only your deposit, as this is all that has been paid. This is unless there was a let-out clause within the Compromis de Vente, to waive you losing this deposit for a particular reason eg: something bad coming up in the searches. Such clauses are called "conditions supensives" and are very common and often included within the Compromis de Vente anyway. But if you are worried about anything, check these clauses and make sure what you want is down as a "condition suspensive" within the contract. If it isn't, get your Notaire to add it.
It is once the final Acte du Vente is signed that you would have problems, but this is after the searches have been done and it is when you pay in full for the property.
For further information on buying and selling property, the following may be of interest:
Property sales in France
Selling houses in France
We are offering on a property in a holiday village near Montpellier. At the present time the contract is not leaseback but is going to be changed to leaseback hopefully. In this instance do we a) have to pay agent's fees as a purchaser and b) pay VAT on the purchase c) I know we appoint a notaire but we have to appoint somebody to do the conveyancing and re-write our will. Would this be the same person and do we find that person or does the agent recommend somebody? Do you know what the charge percentage for that would be please?
Thanks for contacting us. You do not mention how old the property you are buying is, whether you are buying off-plan, or whether you are buying privately (not through a developer).
But, as mentioned above, if you are buying off-plan, or the property is less than five years old, and you are buying through a developer, VAT is paid at 19.6%, and is usually included in the purchase price quoted. The documentation should say "TTC" (Toutes Taxes Comprises) which means all taxes included. If you are at all unsure, confirm this with the agent/developer. And if bought off-plan or a new build, this VAT could then be re-claimable through the French government. Stamp duty costs are then lower, at the rate of 0.7% instead of 5.09%.
With older properties, or if you are buying privately, there would be no VAT to pay, but Stamp Duty would have to be paid amounting to 5.09% of the purchase price.
I understand you would have to pay the agent's fees.
Notaires usually do the conveyancing, and the fees are noted in our article. The agent can recommend a Notaire, or seller, or you can choose your own. A Notaire is a representative of the government in that he or she works in their interests and has no bias to either buyer or seller. This fact notwithstanding, many British buyers prefer to instruct their own Notaire rather than to share the one used by the seller. Strictly speaking there should be no need for this but there is no difficulty in so doing. If you do decide to have a second Notaire it probably won't cost you any more money, as the two Notaires will share the payment between them. It may be that you can find an English-speaking Notaire, which certainly makes the whole process easier.
It may also be worth instructing a solicitor as there are some distinct gaps in the Notaire's brief that could be a source of problems in the future. A Notaire, for example, does not offer legal advice, and will not necessarily draw your attention to any drawbacks in the contract. An English speaking solicitor can save you lots of problems in the long run, although it may seem like an unnecessary expense at the time. He/she could also draw up a new will. Fees vary widely so I cannot give you a cost on this I'm afraid.
And with all of the above, as I am not an expert in these matters, it may be well worth you contacting a legal advisor to get expert advice. You could use the following page of our site:
Hi there - I am enquiring about selling a studio in Nice for about 100,000 Euros. The agency says they will charge 9.5% for selling. Is this right? I thought the buyer pays the agency fees.
Thanks for contacting us. I understand that estate agent fees are usually paid by the buyer of the property, but this is not always the case. This should be clearly outlined and agreed in the contract you sign with your estate agent, the "Mandat de Vente". Sometimes agents will take off commission from the sale price, or sometimes they will add the commission on to the selling price of the property. So in the latter case, although the contract may state the seller is paying the fees, as the seller receives more than he/she would receive for the property without this commission, in the end he/she would get the same amount. So if your studio was being sold for 110,498 Euros, and you are paying the agent's fees at 9.5%, you would still receive the same amount at the end of the sale, as if the buyer paid the fees if your studio was sold for 100,000 Euros. (This doesn't take into account the effect this would have on any other fees.) Bear in mind commission rates are always negotiable, as is the selling price of your property.
And to confuse the issue, estate agents can work for both buyers and sellers of a property, receiving commission from both, if both parties have signed and agreed Mandats to this effect.
I gave an agent my property to sell. He found a buyer but now for personal reasons I am unable to go through with it. I have not yet signed the compromis. The agent is most upset and he says he is legally due his fees as he did his job ie: found me the buyer. Is this true? Thanks.
Thanks for contacting us. If nothing has been signed and agreed with the agent to this effect, I would think that you have no legal reason to pay his fees. Understandably he is upset, but unless you want to part with some money as a gesture of goodwill, I don't think you have to pay him anything.
But as I am no expert in these matters you may like to get confirmation from a legal advisor, perhaps using the following page of our site:
Many thanks for your reply. Actually the agent came back to me after I had emailed you saying they would not be asking me for any fees. He said he was entitled to but wouldn't, because they wanted to protect their reputation and keep their clients happy! I didn't argue the point although several people and agents and now you have told me the same, ie: if I hadn't signed anything the fees were not due. But I thought best to go quietly and relieved. Thanks again for getting back to me.
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