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FAQ about money matters

Does it make sense to negotiate on my own?Negotiation is not for the faint hearted. Especially when it is done in a foreign language, via a third party (the agent). So no, it doesn't make sense for the average person to negotiate the purchase of the French home on their own. That's probably also true in your home country. That's why you should consider hiring a professional to work with you - either a property finder or a lawyer. Don't expect the notaire to have anything to do with negotiations though.

When do I pay money to the notaire?

You pay a deposit of up to 10% of the value of the property at the time of the signing of the compromis de vente. The pay the balance just before the closing – as the sale can only be completed after you have paid the full amount to the notaire’s account.

How do I get in touch with the tax authorities?

Don’t worry, they will find you! All tax authorities and some utilities are kept informed automatically about your purchase – thanks to automation of administrative processes and big data. You will receive your “avis d’imposition” in the mail – and you can set up an online account to pay taxes in the future – which is very often useful when you live abroad.

How much are the maintenance costs of a French property?

You should budget 2/4% of the value of the property -inclusive of local taxes and utilities. Obviously, the final tally depends on the services you require and on the things, you can do yourself.

Can I rent my property when I am not using it?

Yes – thanks to Airbnb this will be easy. You will need to hire dedicated professionals to help manage the process of the estate when you are no around. But in the end, renting (even a few weeks) could very well help make the house pay for itself.

How can I find qualified and reputable help?

Just like at home, you will need a network to source the help you need. Word o mouth is useful, so you could ask member of the expatriate community locally who have houses and are using such professionals. Or you could ask the seller’s agent, or better your buyer’s agent if you have one – as this is an important part of their job.

Does it make sense to buy a house and renovate?

Yes, but it is not for everybody. Renovating a house is the best possible way to achieve your goal of the French dream house. But unless you have some renovation expertise, you should keep the work to a minimum. You will need to get a solid team in place to handle the work when you are not on site. And obviously, you need to factor in the “renovation” bit in your negotiation process.

How do I open a bank account in France?

Opening a French bank account is required after of just before you complete the purchase. For example: without one, you will not be able to open accounts with most utilities. Most banks will require that you have a property in France – and an address – to open a bank account. You will need to provide proofs and documents of all sorts – the first one being a letter of good standing from your bank at home. The process is a bit tedious, but very doable – especially if you ask your agent to assist.

Can I lose a property to overbidding?

Technically, gazumping is not possible in France. Once the seller has signed the compromis de vente, he can’t change his mind, or it will cost him 10% of the property price (pretty good deterrent). To be on the safe side before the compromis is signed, you should formalize your offer in writing, make sure it contains all the pertinent contractual information, and get it countersigned by the seller – making it a pre-provisional sales agreement.

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