Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Ten traps to avoid when buying a French Property


Are you still thinking of buying that holiday home in France, maybe a retirement home or just somewhere to stay when you are working Paris or Nice.
The buying process is completely different to those in England and Wales, Scotland or Ireland.
Listed below are ten reminders to take into account.

1) Do not take things for granted : or assume that because things are done one way in your country, they will be done the same way in France.

2) Do not sign blind: it is not sensible to rely on the impartiality of an estate agent or the vendor, who is trying to sell you something, for advice. Take independent legal advice.

3) Do not misunderstand the role of the notaire: the notaire is not a solicitor. He is a public law official who does not, and cannot act in an adversarial capacity.

4) Do your homework: visit the Cadastre (land survey registry), Town Hall, the DDE (Direction D├ępartementale de l’Equipement) and find out about planning and whether you can build.

5) Do not forget costs: agents are usually (but not always) paid by the vendor. 5 per cent is abut the minimum but it can be as much as 20 per cent. Costs and duties on property transactions in France are far higher then in England. Total cost will be about 7 per cent.

5) Do not use an offshore company to buy residential property: offshore companies will be liable to a series of heavy French Taxes.

7) Do not get involved in tax evasion: even if it is suggested, resist. You may be asked to pay part of the purchase price ‘under the table’, this saves the vendor capital gains tax but leaves yo exposed to reassessment later and to penalities.

8) Do not forget French inheritance law: in France there is the reserve l├ęgale for your children, or your parents if you have no children.

9) Do not make a separate wills: have an updated version of your Will. A specialist in French law can draft a Codicil dealing with the French property.

10) Do not forget French inheritance tax: in France the surviving the surviving spouse receives about 76,000 tax free, and starts paying tax up to 20 per cent. Each child has a nil rate band of 40,000 Euros.

Finally: Before getting involved with cross border issues, do take legal advice from someone qualified to give it.
Once you have completed the formalities, you might find that you want to let the property out for self catering holiday vacations. This is a great way of contributing towards the finance and advertising at jmlvillas.com only costs £11-75 per year. For that you can list the property on your own page with six large photos. There is pent of space on your page at jmlvillas.com to add details about the local area and attractions. You can also add prices and availability and change all these details (including the photos) whenever you want on-line.
2009 is going to be a much tougher year for holiday home owners who are letting their properties and jmlvillas.com is a very inexpensive way of advertising. Just think what it would cost for one small ad for one day in a Sunday newspaper, or a month's ad in a specialist magazine (that has a very small circulation!)
The advertisers for jmlvillas.com in France also have the benefit of having their property listed for FREE on villa-rental-france.com and in French on euro-villalocation.com and if it happens to be in the South of France on cotedazurrental.com !
Regardless of whether you let out the property or not, you must make sure that the property is well insured. The cover must allow for void periods when no one will be there and if you need to keep the electricity on (for heating, alarm etc), you should let the insurance company know when you first take out the insurance.
If you are not familiar with French and would prefer to have your insurance policy written in English have you considered using a specialist company back in the UK. Apart from covering France and Corsica, they also cover many other European countries.
jml-insurance.co.uk acts as an Introducer via their websites to Andrew Copeland International and Intasure and you can access their websites and get a quote or arrange cover by entering the "Overseas Property Insurance" section Here
Good luck with your house hunting in France.

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