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Selling Property

France - Selling Property


The first step when selling a property is to instruct an agent. The ‘agents immobiliers’ need to have a licence to practise and will have a ‘carte professionnelle’. There are a number of associations for estate agents and finding a licensed one in your area should not be a problem. The licenses are issued by the prefecture and you should be able to obtain a list from there or the Mairie. There are two types of agreement that a seller can have with an agent. An exclusive agreement is known as a ‘mandat exclusif’ or there is the non-exclusive agreement which is known as a ‘mandat simple’. It does not matter which one you choose, the fees for the agency are the same. For this reason many people will choose to have their property listed with more than one agency.

It is perfectly feasible to try to sell the property yourself without the help of an agent and you are able to have the property listed with an agent while at the same time making it clear in your agreement with them that you will be trying to find a buyer independently as well. If you are not clear about this you could end up paying a fee to them even if you find the buyer.

Before you sell a property it is essential that you have an energy efficiency report carried out on the property. This will look at the different types of energy used in the house and determine how efficient the systems are and the impact that the house has on the environment.

When an offer is made on the property the buyer will have a notary who will normally act on behalf of both parties but if you prefer you can hire your own. In this case the one fee will be split between the two. Once the oral agreement to buy has been made the ‘compromis de vente’ is prepared and is normally signed within a week of the agreement. It is up to both parties at this stage to ensure that the terms laid out in the ‘compromis de vente’ state clearly what each is expecting from the sale. The buyer has a ‘cooling off’ period of 7 days, during which they may have a survey carried out, but after the 7 days has passed most sales require a deposit of around 10% of the purchase price which is held either by the notary or the sales agent.

A seller is committed to a sale when they sign the ‘compromis de vente’. If the seller chooses to withdraw from the sale then he must return the deposit to the buyer. He is not able to accept a better offer at a later date, this is not a good enough reason for terminating the agreement. The seller will receive the deposit if the buyer chooses to opt out after their cooling off period.

All the legal requirements of a sale are dealt with by the notary. They will check the title of the property and find out if there are any planned developments in the area. The seller may have to produce reports on the property which check for termites, asbestos and lead. This will depend upon how old the property is. The transfer of a property from one person to another must be dealt with by a notary. The transactions will all be carried out in French but you can have a translator present if you should need help with the language.

In order to complete the sale process all parties will meet up, usually at the office of the notary and will sign the final document, the ‘acte authentique’. The balance of the purchase price is to be paid at this point either from the buyer’s own funds or from a mortgage. The notary will deal with any outstanding mortgage that you have on the property in order to complete the sale. If any taxes are outstanding on the property the notary will also deal with those from the monies paid for the house.

Capital gains tax is only paid on a property that is a second home. If the house you are selling is your main residence then you will not owe any capital gains.

France has a fairly steady property market and the recent economic downturn has not impacted all areas. Property prices have risen steadily over the last decade but France is still attractive to expats as prices in many areas of the country are far below that of the US and the UK.


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