Selling Property in France
It’s your choice!
Having decided on Selling your house in France you obviously need to work out what would be the best way of finding a buyer for your property and your needs. The choices are:-
- Selling your house in France privately by listing it on international websites advertising French property, create your own web site and endeavour to drive traffic to it or local advertising
- Ask a local French estate agent or agents to find you a buyer
- Use a chain estate agency
- Use an international property marketing company
- Use a company marketing French property to English speaking buyers
Selling Your House In France Privately
40% of French property is sold privately but if you choose to go down this route you will need to research the value of the property, prepare your own photos and descriptions and ensure that you can arrange for someone to be present when a prospective buyer wishes to view. Having found a buyer you will then need to take over all the tasks involved in selling the property, which would normally be done by an estate agent. This will take time so you need to ensure that you have the time and are organised enough to take this job on. At Healey Fox we have a special section dealing with private sellers and will help you market your house, both in discussing the preparation of details and in reminding you of everything you will need to do to bring it to market and everything that needs doing once a buyer is found. We will send details of your property to our extensive database, advertise it on the home page of our website and promote it on Facebook. All highly successful ways of finding serious buyers. Our fee for this service is only payable on completion of the sale and is 2% of the net sale price.
For further information about how to sell your house privately see ;
Using An Estate Agency In France
The overriding reason that vendors choose not to use an estate agent is because of the high fees charged. French agency fees are much higher than we expect in the U.K., usually between 4%-12%, the higher percentage being charged on lower priced properties. A French agent, however, does a lot more for their fee than English estate agents Estate agency is a highly regulated profession and the help of an agent can be invaluable if you do not have a working knowledge of French or of the French property selling process. You are also not restricted to using only one agent.
The choice of a local estate agent depends somewhat on who you perceive to be your potential buyers. Many British owners of French property find that when they come to sell, what they thought was a typical French house is viewed by potential buyers as English! It is often the case that your buyer will be English so it is wise to use an agent who has access to English buyers.
There are also some large, usually franchised, French estate agency chains and using one of these may give your property publicity throughout France. The fees charged by such agencies tend to be higher than those charged by smaller local agents.
Using An International Marketing Company
There are several well-established U.K. companies who work directly with selected, English speaking, French estate agents to market their properties to prospective British buyers. Many such buyers find reassurance, at the start of their French property search, in speaking to or visiting someone in a U.K. office. The team at Healey Fox have lived and worked in France, they know the country and it’s properties well. This gives potential buyers a lot of confidence to buy through Healey Fox if we have a local agent in your area you can choose to sell your property using the combined services of Healey Fox and the local agent or you can choose to advertise your property on the Private Sales section of our website, wherever in France your property is located. We contact vendors or agents with all questions raised by a prospective buyer and then make appointments for the buyer to view your property. For vendors who use our French agents, buyers appreciate the ongoing continuity of the relationship between the team in the U.K and each of their specially chosen French estate agents. I guess what we aim to be is that ‘safe pair of hands’ as people embark on their big adventure.
Having decided to sell your French property..now get organised
Before you contact an agent or start to market privately it is good to get everything sorted which includes paperwork as well as the property and grounds.
- SURVEYS. – Dossier Diagnostic Technique. There is a raft of surveys that need to be done before you can sell your French property. All of these are contained in the Dossier Diagnostic Technique.
- Asbestos – required for all properties with no planning permission or planning permission granted before 1997
- Lead – only in paintwork, required for all properties built before 1949. This report is valid for 12 months if lead is found or for an indeterminate period if no lead found.
- Termites – survey required only in certain departements. The report is valid for 6 months
- Natural or industrial risks – only required in specific areas. Validity of 6 months
- Gas installations – report valid for 3 months
- Electrical wiring – required if the wiring is over 15 years old. You must declare if you have installed any form of English wiring. Valid for 3 years
- Septic tank – if the fosse septique is found to be defective the owner of the property has 12 months to comply with whatever needs to be done. The installation of a new system can cost between €5000 to €15000
- Energy efficiency – this is the one that causes a problem as, by law, it must be done before a house is put up for sale and the energy rating must be declared in any advertising of the property. However, it is usually cheaper to,have all surveys done at the same time.
The cost of a complete Dossier Diagnostic Technique can be between €400 and €900, obviously depending on the size of your property. It can normally be cheaper to get the whole survey done at the same time but because the energy efficiency survey needs to be done before you can market the house, owners face a dilemma – either save money by having it all done at once or pay for the energy efficiency survey and wait until you have a buyer to get the other surveys done, some of which are time limited. Whatever you decide you will have to have all surveys done before the first sale contract (Compromis de Vente) can be signed.
PAPERWORK. – make sure you have (or can access) the deed of sale (usually held by the Notaire who authenticated the purchase) and the cadastral plan. It is also good to have recent utility bills so that you can discuss the running cost of your property. Proof of the property taxes you are paying and any bills or guarantees for any major works to the property will also be useful when you start to look for a buyer.
THE HOUSE AND GARDEN. Don’t forget…’first impressions count’. Make sure the approach to your property is as good as you can make it. Inside the house, keep your personal possessions tidy and as out of view as possible. You don’t want the house to look clinical but buyers will want to have the space to envision their possessions and their life in your property. Think also about what is included in the sale with regard to fixtures and fittings and make this clear to the agent or in the sale details you prepare.
PHOTOS AND DESCRIPTION. Most people, when searching on line for a property, are purely driven by the first photo they see, followed by the price. If you are using an agent to sell your property they will take the photos themselves and prepare the description. However, you should ask to see what they intend to use so that you can offer better photos (if you have them ) or amend the text if you think there is something missing or not good enough! Be honest with the agent or with the details your prepare, about any defects in the property. It is a legal requirement that you disclose any easements, hidden defects, tenancies, the surface area and any planning problems. Don’t forget you must include the energy efficiency rating in your details and the agency fees payable with information about who is to pay these fees must be shown on the details the agent prepares.
PRICING. This is always difficult, especially with rural properties. If you are using an agent they should have good experience of what is selling for how much in your area. However, be wary of an agent that offers a seemingly high price. Sometimes agents, desperate to acquire a house for sale, will suggest a high price and an exclusive mandate to get the property onto their books. It’s the same adage…’if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’. If you are selling privately then do research online, in estate agents windows etc. However, do be careful.Most of us tend to overvalue our homes, because they are special to us. Do remember that buyers will want to view those properties which look competitively priced in the market. Whatever price you finally decide to market your French property at do be prepared to negotiate downwards when a potential buyer is found. Unfortunately, it has become the accepted procedure in buying a property in France to expect to lower the price.
VISITS. If you are selling your French property using the services of a French agent you will need to discuss the arrangement for viewings. If you are selling privately, but do not live in the property full time, you will need to make arrangements with someone locally to show the property. When a visit is expected make sure your house and garden are looking at their best. Greet the prospective buyers and maybe offer to make them a drink while the agent shows them around. Most prospective buyers need time on their own to wander around a property if it is a serious contender. Do not hassle them, do not keep talking….just be calm, relaxed and a pleasant host!
The paperwork and process involved in selling your house in France
MANDATE DE VENTE
If you are selling your house in France using the services of one or more French estate agencies the first piece of paperwork you will be asked to sign will be the Mandate de Vente. The normal form is the Mandate de Vente Simple which is a non-exclusive agreement granted to the agent to find you a buyer in return for which you will pay a fee.
Occasionally an agent may ask you to sign a Mandate de Vente Excusif which means you will be granting them the exclusive right to sell your property and even if you find a buyer yourself you will have to pay the agreed fee as listed in the Mandate. Usually such a Mandate is only requested for the sale of very special properties where the agent is likely to be involved in expensive marketing.
The Mandate de Vente will include the amount of the fee (honaires) for selling your property and who will be charged. It will also include the location of the property, the price, any special conditions, ways it will be advertised, surface area of the land in which it sits and is surrounded by, a note of which reports for the diagnostic techniques have been done and, of course, the energy rating, and the owner’s details.
The Mandate de Vente Simple (non-exclusive) is not time limited and if you wish to cancel it you will need to inform the agent in writing (sent Recorded Delivery) 15 days before the time stated in the Mandate. An exclusive mandate has to be renewed every 3 months.
If the Mandate de Vente is signed in the agency it becomes operative immediately. However, if it is signed in your home or the local café then you have the Right of Retraction which provides you with 14 days ‘cooling off’ period. If you decide to withdraw within this period you will need to notify the agency by a Recorded Delivery letter.
AN OFFER ON THE FRENCH PROPERTY IS MADE
Once someone wants to buy your house they will make an offer in writing. If they are offering the full advertised price then you are obliged to accept and go ahead with the sale. If they have offered a lower price, the decision about accepting it is yours, but again, if you accept it then you are legally obliged to sell the house at the accepted price.
FIRST CONTRACT- THE COMPROMIS DE VENTE
The first contract, one of two legally binding contracts involved in the sale and purchase of a French property, can be referred to as the Sale and Purchase Contract, the Promesse de Vente or the Compromis de Vente. Normally a standard pre-printed and pre-translated form is used, examples of which are shown.
The Compromis de Vente will include the following information:-
- Civic status of all sellers and purchasers
- Description of the property with the cadastral (land plan) references and the surface area
- The agreed price, including the agency fee
- The estimated Notaire’s fee
- Information on the status of the Dossier Diagnostic Technicque reports
- Any conditional clauses (conditions suspensive) which are anything that is vital to the purchase and without which the purchase will not go ahead i.e. mortgage finance (for which details of the organisation granting the mortgage, the rate of interest and the term must be quoted), planning permissions etc.
- Circumstances under which the deposit may be forfeited
- Obligations and declarations of the vendor
- Target completion date
- List of any furniture and fittings included in the purchase
Once the Compromis de Vente is signed by all parties there is a ‘cooling off’ period for the buyers only. This period starts the day after the Signed Compromis De Vente is received by the buyer. If at this point the buyer wishes to withdraw from the purchase they must notify the agent or the Notaire in a letter sent by Recorded Delivery. Once the ‘cooling off’ period is over the deposit (5-10% of the purchase price) is paid and the purchaser will send it to the Notaire or the agent who will hold it in a non-interest bearing client account.
What Happens Next?
The Notaire is a public officer and a legal specialist who draws up authenticated contracts for clients.The main task of the Notaire in a property sale and purchase is to check that everything listed in the Compromis de Vente is correct. To this end he or she will check with the Land Registry that the property, as defined in the Comprimis de Vente, is owned by the vendor and that there are no charges on the property. These legal searches can take 2-3 months.
ACTE DE VENTE
The Acte de Vente or Acte Authentique is the second and final contract involved in selling your house. It is similar in format to the Compromis de Vente but includes more detail with regard to the property, the mortgage and the insurance and also includes a breakdown of the taxes payable. Attached to the Acte will be the reports as contained in the Dossier Diagnostic Technique.
The Notaire will inform the vendors and buyers when the Acte is ready for signing. He or she will also call for the mortgage funds and/or request final payment from the buyer. These funds must be in the account of the Notaire before the final signing of the Acte. To complete the Acte the vendors, purchasers and Notaire will need to sign the document. If it is not possible for any of the vendors or buyers to be present then each of the need to arrange a Power of Attorney (procuration) in advance. This document will need to be drawn up by the Notaire and signed in front of the Notaire in France or a public Notary in the U.K. The Power of Attorney gives a nominated person (usually a clerk in the Notaire’s office) authority to sign the Acte on your behalf.
Once the Acte is signed by all parties and witnessed by the Notaire, he or she will provide an Attestation, which is a document confirming the transfer of ownership. This will be needed when terminating utlilities and services.
The amount of tax which you have paid for the current year will be proportioned by the Notaire giving you a refund for this. However, the tax d’Habitation, currently still being charged, is not deemed to be payable by the new owner.
CAPITAL GAINS TAX
Capital Gains Tax (Impôt sur les plus values) is only payable if the property you sell is not your main home. It is vital that you keep all bills for any renovation work that you have had carried out to the property as these costs will be offset against the Capital Gains Tax liability.