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Buying real estate in France
For buying a regular freehold residential property in France.

An agreement to buy is negotiated between the buyer and seller and an initial contract is drawn up by the Real Estate Agent or a Notary and signed by the buyer and seller which legally binds both parties.

You would now pay a deposit of about 10% of the purchase price which remains held in a special account by the Notary or selling agent until completion of the sale when the property will no longer be open to offers from other parties. This contract is known as a bilateral agreement, compromis de vente in French, and the most popular type of contract. You would lose the deposit if you do not proceed with the purchase.

The final contract is signed at the Notary’s office and the deeds pass to the buyer and the land registered. You must then pay the balance of the purchase price to the Notary who will then pay the vendor. You will also need to provide the Notary a copy of your birth certificate translated into French and, if applicable, a copy of a Marriage Certificate, also translated.

Solicitor / Lawyer
A solicitor/lawyer is recommended to protect your interests and conveyance the property title. They will be in addition to the Notary who is mandatory for property transactions.

You would expect to pay a total of over 12% of the selling price; less for properties under five years which have VAT (20.6%) built into the price.
The Notary fee would be around 3%, transfer tax 7.5% (less than 1% for new properties) and registration fees around another 6%.
The vendor should pay the Real Estate Agents fees.

Property Tax
Real Estate taxes are levied on property plus residential tax for living as a owner occupier or as a tenant (renting or not). Both are calculated on the average property rental values.

*In France new property purchases attract Vat of 19.6%, but this can be avoided through the leaseback scheme. Leaseback restricts the number of weeks per year that the buyer can use their property, so that it can be rented out as holiday accommodation. Popular in ski resorts and coastal areas with developers quoting an average of 5-6% gross annual rental income. In some cases the buying price you are quoted is with the tax already recovered by the contractor. Leaseback Property

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buying real estate in France

Allen & Overy

Denton Sales Vincent & Thomas

French Property Lawyers, London & Nice

Frere Cholmeley

Harris & Harris

Herbert Smith

MSM, Paris


Pierre Hourcade, International


Vizard Oldham


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