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Hi guys,

I shortlisted some property and considering making an offer on one of them.

A few questions:

A few questions about the purchasing procedure.
  1. Who verifies the title and any issues with the property? Notary? Are there any probability of inaccuracy / fraud?
  2. Since offer will be subject to some conditions (no termites, no mold, etc.) we need to draft all those conditions in the offer, correct? Who helps us with it? Notary? But what if the conditions are not met, do we still pay for the notary service?
  3. What language all contracts will be in? How can we assure that they are in English and absolutely identical to original French?
  4. I want to make sure we use a notary that is 1) very good, 2) knows the area very well, maybe local to it and 3) different from the one that the seller will use, so there is no conflict of interest. I understand we will be paying for our notary. Who will be paying for the service of the seller's notary?
  5. Can we make a purchase subject to certain repairs and have it to be part of property transfer? Since mortgage doesn't cover renovation, I want it to be part of the purchase price (toilet and tabs change, maybe some appliances update, double glazing etc.), and done by the owner before transfer of the property (not by us after the purchase). Is it possible?
  6. Have you ever encountered any legal disputes between the buyer and the seller after the purchase? Since it has to be resolved in French court, who pays for legal fees?

Thank you.
 

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1) The notaire. It's the notaire's job to safeguard against inaccuarcy or fraud.
2) The notaire. And yes, you will pay the designated notaire fee.
3) The contract will be in French.
4) You will be paying for the seller's notaire. There is no conflict of interest, the notaire does not represent you or the seller. The notaire represents the State.
5) Yes.
6) Dunno.
 

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I think you may run into some problems with your requirements.

There are a standard series of inspections/requirements when the property transfers, but I'm not sure what (if anything) you can add to the purchase offer. The contracts will be in French, and it will probably be up to you to get a translator if you want something you can review in English. (Forget about anything in translation being "absolutely identical" to the original in another language.)

Contract law in French is also a bit different from contract law in the anglo-saxon tradition. I've heard it said that, in France, the existence of a contract presumes that there is a willingness on the part of the parties to do business, and so you can't get out of the contract over a technical breach related to the wording. The one major and typical condition that goes into most property purchase contracts is the one related to the successful securing of a mortgage - and if you try to break the contract over that clause, you'll have to show you've exercised a "good faith effort" to actually obtain a mortgage.

Folks with a bit more experience than I have will jump in here, but it's not normally the done thing to insist that the seller make repairs, upgrades and renovations as a part of the sale. If something about the place isn't up to code (as evidenced by the inspection certificates required) then the sellers need to make the necessary repairs to bring things up to standard, but past that, I'm not so sure.

When we were looking at property several years back, I was frankly shocked at the rather shoddy state of some of the places we looked at. I was told at the time that the attitude here is that most new owners will make all their own renovations and repairs so it isn't considered worth the time and effort for the sellers to fix up the place.

But let's see what the folks with more experience can tell you.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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When we bought our Annecy apartment, there were some fairly minor items that needed doing. Skirting board fixed, some other repairs. They were designated in a supplementary document to the contract, and the notaire ensured that they were done (by asking the realtor) before we (both parties) signed the contracts.
 

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Hi guys,
[*]Can we make a purchase subject to certain repairs and have it to be part of property transfer? Since mortgage doesn't cover renovation, I want it to be part of the purchase price (toilet and tabs change, maybe some appliances update, double glazing etc.), and done by the owner before transfer of the property (not by us after the purchase). Is it possible?
You can always suggest it, but be prepared for the seller and the notaire to react with some surprise.
I'm intrigued how you envisage this working in practice. Who's going to get the devis, choose the artisan, select the items? And fund the work - your mortgage won't be released until the sale goes through, so do you have the funds, presumably not or you wouldn't be trying to get it added to the loan, so are you expecting the seller to pay thousands of euros out of their own pocket for a new toilet, double glazing, new appliances etc? Depending on their circumstances, it might be a big ask. Bearing in mind that artisans here don't work on the principle of do the job, send the bill and you pay when you're ready - they normally require a 30 per cent deposit upfront when the bon pour accord is signed and the rest promptly on completion. And good artisans tend to be booked up well ahead, which means it's likely to be months between the seller putting down the various deposits and all the work being completed so that the sale can proceed and they recoup their money. And they surely won't be prepared to invest any money until you have a definite mortgage offer on the table - do mortgage offers have any time limit before you have to complete? because it looks like being a very long-drawn-out sale.
At first sight it looks far too fraught and I know what I'd say, and I suspect anybody who wasn't fairly desperate to sell would say the same.
But there's no harm in asking - don't ask don't get.
 

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I would suggest you offer a price that takes into account the work that needs to be done, and then get the work done yourself.
Perhaps I should just explain:

1. Chances of getting seller agreement are very low
2. Would likely inflate the purchase price
3. You would have no control over the work, it would be likely to be done to a low standard and potentially even poor quality DYI
4. Given 3, you may have no recourse if there is a problem with the work
5. There's a chance that in the not too distant future you would want to get the work re-done because it's not in your eyes suitable
6. It would be really hard even to get a devis right now, given the July/August summer holidays, let alone get the work done

Probably other reasons, but I would think that's enough.
 

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EH is quite right.
I see what you're trying to do, but I think that for a first-time purchase in France, you shouldn't try to be too radical and twist an unfamiliar system in a way it was never meant to be twisted. The French property purchase system is pretty watertight if you do it by the book, it's designed to give both sides reasonable protection and it does. Why not keep looking until you find a house that you like in its present condition, at a price that you can easily get a mortgage on. There's no shortage of properties on the market. The more you borrow, the more interest you will pay in the long run (it's not much at the moment but it can only increase) - so it doesn't really make sense to borrow more than you need. You can indulge yourself with making improvements at your leisure, as and when you have the cash. Your mortgage repayments won't leave you with no disposable income left over at the end of the month, the bank will make sure of that.
 

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I would suggest you offer a price that takes into account the work that needs to be done, and then get the work done yourself.
Absolutely agree. The place we're in right now (Annecy) needs a completely re-worked bathroom, and the addition of an upstairs toilet. We figured it would cost up to €30,000 so we took that off our offer. It was accepted, and now we're engaging artisans to do the work.
 

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We recently bought a house and found that notaries in France take their job seriously and they are extremely thorough. The seller picked the notary but we could have gone anywhere probably because the rates are fixed and mainly consist of the taxes you pay when you buy a house here. The notary fees here seem shockingly high but the actual amount that goes to the notary isn't so high when you take out the house buying taxes that are paid from those fees.

You can positively influence the notary fees (taxes) by having them separate in the agreement the immovable and movable items. If the house is listed with a lower value because they take out the new kitchen, sun blinds etc. and list them separately with their estimated value, you will only pay taxes over the house. Be careful trying to "trick the system" though. The values have to be realistic (you can't buy a 300k house for 200k) and more importantly, it is a lot more difficult to get a mortgage for the movable objects. Since we were looking for a 100% mortgage (that still excludes the notary fees), we decided to have everything added into a total price and get over the higher notary fee.

The notary will prepare a preliminary agreement which is basically binding unless you can't get a mortgage. In this preliminary agreement you will have a certain amount of time to apply for a mortgage with the bank, provide proof of that to the notary and so on. I think we had 2 or 3 months to have everything taken care of, which in France is working at the speed of light. Make sure you ask the notary to set some later dates or get ready to have a really bad relationship with your mortgage broker because you will have to call him every 2 days to keep him moving along.

If you wanna argue about mold, termites and that sort of thing, have it included in this preliminary agreement! Everything that is not agreed on before your first visit to the notary will cause a delay and delays in France take forever. We've run into some surprises while and after buying this house and decided to suck it up. We moved here from Switzerland and were required to give notice 4 months before leaving our rental place there and didn't want to risk having to rent a house here while arguing with the seller :)

After we moved here some more stuff came up but we decided to let karma take care of the seller and be at peace rather than waste energy on legal battles. If you are American this last phrase may sound completely ridiculous but I am not so it makes perfect sense to me ;) We did learn one thing though, if you bring stuff up at the notary office during the actual transfer, you are shooting yourself in the foot. He will be more than happy to postpone the transfer so you can work stuff out with the seller but there is nothing he can do about it at that point in terms of adding it to the contract. You either buy it or you don't. However if you want to take the seller to court afterwards, they will point out that you knew about the condition before signing and the notary can give testimony to that. As far as taking things to court afterwards... I don't know about that. You are thinking of buying a property that doesn't even have doubly glazing. Things will come to light no doubt. We were advised beforehand that once a transfer is final it can be very tough to get the previous owner to pay for anything and it is not custom in France. But I assume that if you can prove in court that if the previous owner had knowledge of the existing problems that you can win your case. I think though, if you are already taking these things into consideration that you are maybe just buying the wrong house. I would keep on searching till I find a house where I don't expect to have to take the seller to court.

In France the seller will provide you a report of the state the house is in, the electrical wiring, asbestos, that sort of thing. If you want the house checked more thoroughly, I would assume you are going to have to hire someone yourself and pay for that. If you want work done prior to the sale so you can include it in your mortgage I think your chances are pretty slim. I certainly would not do this. What if the buyer dies or can't get a mortgage deal? Then I will be stuck with the bill.

Basically the French system seemed okay to me. A little different from what I was used to but watertight. The notary baffle you with paperwork, including even a natural disaster risk assessment and stuff like that.
 

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When we bought our place a couple of years ago, we used a lawyer in London to look over and check all the documents. We are now selling our house and using him again. I wouldn't do it without having a lawyer do that. My French is not good enough to read legal docs.

When we were looking at property several years back, I was frankly shocked at the rather shoddy state of some of the places we looked at. I was told at the time that the attitude here is that most new owners will make all their own renovations and repairs so it isn't considered worth the time and effort for the sellers to fix up the place.
Bev, is that really true? Our sitting room needs painted. It's got patches on it from when the electrician did some work. Would it not mean we'd get a lower price, therefore making it worthwhile to have it painted? Thank you!
 

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Bev, is that really true? Our sitting room needs painted. It's got patches on it from when the electrician did some work. Would it not mean we'd get a lower price, therefore making it worthwhile to have it painted? Thank you!
Many sellers here don't want to spend money to fix things and make the property more attractive to buyers (though that is slowly changing), which is crazy because it does make the property more attractive and selling easier. If I were you, I would definitely go ahead and paint. That might not necessarily mean you'll get a better price (who knows, but buyers here certainly do take into account what work needs to be done and what that might cost when they submit an offer), but it's really important if you want to sell relatively quickly.
 

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What EverHopeful said.

I guess it kind of depends. If the "work" needed on the house is nothing but painting, re-wallpapering and other sorts of things that most folks would be expected to do anyhow, the sellers just don't seem to bother. (I guess "everyone" here does a major paint and spiffy up to a house before moving in.)

OTOH, I know of a few folks who bought their dream house specifically because all the renovation and modernization had already been done and the place was more or less in "move-in" condition. Other folks are going to remodel and repaint, no matter how nice the place looks.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Thank you! Gosh, tricky one. I think I'm inclined to do it although getting paint work done here is sooooo expensive. The quote we got for our sitting room and mezzanine was 4300€ and the other one was 5000€. And we were providing the paint! We are going to try and get it done more cheaply.
Thank you again.
 

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SIS - that's outrageous for the painting. We just had 5 rooms (60m2) painted for 3600euros, including the paint, including the windows, including the ceiling, and the plainthes. But we're in Pays de Loire - might be cheaper here. The painter was also a decoratrice and helped with colour selection and coordination. We had another devis for about the same, but he had no idea how to help with colour selection.
 

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I thought we were!! The area is about 50m2 for the whole area. There are no windows or woodwork. But there is a tall chimney.

We had a quote for 7000€ for our tiling. Not a huge area! Needless to say we didn't get it done!

Agreed - it definitely does pay to get lots of quotes.

Thank you again.
 

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a point about notaires, unless things have changed
despite what is quoted here you can accept any notaire quoted by the other side , or use your own as well in which case the notaires split the standard fees

most people seem to accept the use of one notaire who represents neither party , just the law/state
 
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