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Buying a French Property in The Charente France

Charente has become the new goal for those searching a property overseas in France .  You may be looking for either a town house, farmhouse, land, barn or Lake in France then once you have decided on the property you want you will start on the process of purchasing that property. In this article, we explain the order of events as you go down the road to completing your purchase.
In 99 % of cases it is the buyer who pays all the fees.  The estate agents fees and the notaire's or solicitors fees. The notaire's fee including the property deed register is about 10% of the purchase price. If you found your property through a French real estate agent or immobilier then you will have his fees also on top to pay.
If you found your property through a French estate agent then you would have certainly have had to sign up with that agent and as a consequence you will have to pay there fees which should have been outlined in the agreement that you originally signed with them.

In France you will be asked to sign a promise de vente which is a bidding contract between you and the seller. Within this contract you can state reasons for pulling out i.e subject to seeing the plans of the property, you can also insert conditions like subject to you receiving a French mortgage. You may also have further development plans for the property and again this contract can be used to say subject to you receiving planning permission for your proposed project. Another good request is to say subject to the property being cleared of all it's rubbish ( I know of people who have had to pay thousands of euros to have barns cleared out or even lofts cleared.  This is where you will start to learn that the French love paper work and demand copies for all sorts of documents. You will need a copy of your passport, a copy of your birth certificate (The full one not the small one) You will also need copies of your marriage certificate and divorce papers if applicable.  If you are financing your purchase with a mortgage then you will need copies of the paper work.  The compris de vente normally takes up to four weeks to arrive and it will be in French all thougth some notaire's and agents will supply an additional copy in English. If you are not sure about any of the contract then seek professional advice before signing. You may be asked to deposit a 10% holding deposit upon signing the compromise and if after signing you decide to with draw then you will lose your deposit unless the reason is for one of the conditions that you laid down i,e you cannot get a mortgage or the plan of the property is not what you saw and so on.  Likewise if the seller decides to sell to some one else for a reason other than was stated in the contract he will have to pay you 10% - not bad.
 The solicitor (Notaire) is responsible for insuring that certain inspections are carried on the property you are buying prior to completion. These inspections will be for termites and other wood eating bugs, Lead and asbestos checks. If you are buying a relatively new house then it may be well worth asking for a copy of the builders invoice as this carries a ten year guarantee in France. Similar the vendor would have a COUNSEL CERTIFICATE which would have been provided once the property was hooked up to mains electric, this certificate would show that the wiring conformed to French standards and was safe. The notaire will also ask for the plans cadastre for the property you are buying and will check that the boundaries are marked. If you are buying a piece of land or property that was once part of a larger section then a new plan cadastre will be drawn up and new parcelle numbers given to your plot.
A property survey does not exists as such in France and you would be better off asking a local builder to survey the property for you. Remember if you are buying some 200 year old stone French farmhouse then there will be work to be done and do not think otherwise. Do not ask the estate agent to recommend a surveyor or builder as he will probably send some one he knows will not loose his commission. Instead ask at the town hall or Maire to recommend a local builder or other expats to recommend some one. Remember the estate agent will loose a lot of money if you pull out.  The sale completion signing is held in the notaire's office and it's usual for the buyer to be there, but if you can't be, you can arrange a power of attorney for it to be signed in your absence. Make sure that you have your deposit in place in France and also that your mortgage has been agreed. If you miss the completion date you will lose your deposit. On the day of the signing be sure to go and view the property one final time prior to signing to ensure that everything is has you expect. The estate agent can arrange this and it is not unusual. When you sign you will be asked to write in French sold as seen so make sure you have seen it.
It's not unknown for problems to arise even at this late stage with regard to fixtures and fittings for example all the light switches and power points may have been removed.

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