Monthly Archives: June 2014

Offer accepted – 16 June 2014

Negotiating the purchase price is interesting. The vendors often won’t reduce the price. The estate agents don’t want the price reduced as it cuts into their profits. Once an offer has been accepted the property is taken off the market. It will disappear from the estate agent’s listings.

The French estate agents have a bigger responsibility that their UK counterparts. UK agents basically introduce the purchaser to the vendor, act as an intermediary for any price negotiations and chase  solicitors. French agents also draw up the Compromis de Vente (purchase agreement). They will also hold a deposit payable on signing the Compromis de Vente. The deposit is about 15%, usually rounded down to the nearest €10,000.

The agent will require information for drawing up the contract. They need proof of identity and information about any mortgage. This will include the mortgage amount, the lending bank, the interest rate and the term. Remember that French banks are very regionalised. Credit Agricole isn’t sufficient to name the bank. It needs to be qualified by region – Credit Agricole Normandie.

As mentioned previously, there are blue and red zones. After the floods of the late 1990s, areas of land in danger of flooding from the sea or river have been designated as red zones. It is forbidden to build anything on a red zone. Red zone land is worthless.

As we are buying part of an existing plot of land it is necessary for the land to be officially divided into separate plots ensuring that we get the 1350m2 we want. The Cadestre is the French equivalent of the UK Land Registry. Their Web site is quite good and you can get information on plots of land. Apparently the boundary will be marked out by pegs and it is an offence to move pegs until boundary walls or fences are in place.  The land needs to be divided before the Compromis de Vente is signed.

Another important consideration is how the property is owned. It is important to get this right otherwise French inheritance laws can prove very expensive. One option is to create a special company called a Société civile immobilière (SCI) which owns the property. It is worth getting the SCI option written into the Compromis de Vente as this gives the Notaire the option of transferring ownership to an SCI on completion.

One very important thing is never sign anything than estate agent gives you, other than a Bon de Visite, without talking to a lawyer. An English speaking lawyer if you are not a fluent French speaker. We engaged Annie Digby  from Guellec Digby & Co. She produced a very comprehensive list of things she would do as part of the purchase process, some of which we hadn’t thought of.

Property Found – June 2014

Our estate agent, Julien at S’Antoni, sent through information about what he thought would be a suitable property for our “project” on Thursday, 3 June. It is 1000m2 of land with an existing old house on it (stone house built sometime in the 1800’s). We arranged to view the property with Julien at 1400 hrs on Thursday 12 June 2014.

We headed to Paris for our usual overnight stay and bounced out of bed early to get our train to Agde. When we got to the station we discovered that our train had been cancelled by the on-going train strikes being held by SNCF, so we had to defer our visit to the property until 1700 hrs. It is part of a huge plot of some 2700m2. The 1000m2 did not include the swimming pool, but the owner was prepared to sell another 350m2 making a total area of 1350m2. The house is livable, but will benefit from refurbishment at some point in the future.

We showed our friends Jean and Laurent the property details. There was some concern over whether the land was in a red zone for flooding risk from the sea and the river – which thankfully it was not.  Jean, who has lived in the area for over 20 years, kindly agreed to visit the property with us on the morning of Friday the 13th (lucky for some!).

We visited the property for a second time with Jean. He asked the questions that we had not even thought of ourselves and told us that it was a good investment. We put in an initial low offer which was rejected and then got our final offer accepted on Saturday, 14 June. It is going to be a huge project to turn the house and land into a guest house, but will be a wonderful experience for the two of us

We have pictures on our Web site.