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P-D de Rouffignac

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Everything posted by P-D de Rouffignac

  1. Just got in and read your message, Chancer. Frankly, I think the shorthand T or F 1, 2 etc are more confusing than useful, particularly when used with a T1bis. I have since 'T1bis' more often used to describe a basic studio, with perhaps an extra bed alcove or extra space. For all properties, the assumption is that there will be a kitchen(ette), either American (I have told my colleagues this means nothing to some Brits or am I out of date, better to say 'open plan') or separate (in which case usually stated as such, as some people do not like open plan) unless stated otherwise. This followed by the number of 'rooms', 1 for a studio, 2 for living plus bedroom, etc. As the numbers get llarger you might need to explain what the 'rooms' are - living, dining, bedroom(s), study etc. Re kitchen/kichenette best pperhaps to exlplain if it is (fully) 'equipped' or not. A kitchenette without further explanation might be interpreted as separe though small, as opposed to open-plan (part of the living room). I think you last paragraph description is fine - the more detail the better. Best regards, P-DdeR.
  2. In property descriptions  T1, T2 (often using the alternative F1, F2 etc) mean 1, 2 etc rooms plus kitchen and bath. Mezzanine and certain terraces/loggias (closed-in) are often not counted  in the 'official' surface area of the property - mezzanines depending on height - usually if below 1.80 metres, same applies to any part of the dwelling - for example a loft space below a sloping roof, part of which may be less than 1.80 metres high. However, while property searching I have come across properties that had what I would describe as a permanent loggia - tiled roof, windows, virtually an extension of the living room - but it was described as an apartment with 28 square metres plus a loggia of 12 square metres. I have also seen some pretty solid mezzanines that I would have thought qualified as an extra floor, but which were described as mezzanines...... In preparing your property description for sale, best to be as explanatory as possible to help potential buyers. Hope this helps.
  3. There is a village just south of Perpignan called Laroque des Albères, in the shadow of the Pyrenéés, which is well known for its British community - some friends of mine have recently moved there specifically for this reason. Drive to Perpignan is less than half an hour, and there is a huge supermarket complex and shopping centre on the road in from the south, without going into the centre of Perpignan. Mediterranean beaches also less than half an hour from Laroque. Note that from April, TGV rail link Perpignan to Barcelona direct (50 minutes!) for a change of scene and days out. Hope this helps your search a bit.
  4. You can sign a simple mandate ('mandat simple') with one or more estate agents, under which you reserve the right to try and market and sell the house through your own efforts (advertising, word of mouth etc), in addition to what the agent(s) may be doing to try and sell your property. . Disputes most often arise when an agent first introduces a client to a property and later the vendor and buyer try to do a private deal, depriving the agent of his commission. The law is quite clear on this and agents can recover their commission from the vendor (with whome they have signed a mandate) through the courts. In the case of exclusive mandates, there is generally no right for the vendor to try and market the property privately, and even a private sale between vendor and a buyer may result in commission being due to the agent. You would need to check the wording of the mandate carefully. Simple and exclusive mandates are generally for three months renewable automatically (unless you cancel the mandate) and sometimes effective up to two years - if a buyer first introduced by the agent negotiates a private deal within 24 months, the vendor could still be liable to pay the agent's commission. There is rarely any point in trying to negotiate privately with a buyer introduced by the agent, as the buyer will expect a price reduction (the commission the vendor would have paid the agent). I am speaking generally of course not suggesting you are planning anything underhand! Hope this helps.
  5. Just to comment on some of the very interesting points made by buyers on this post, and again not to justify any inefficiency or other fault attributed to French estate agents! 1. When I worked in a branch office of four, with 10 negotiators, with more than 500 properties on the books, spread over a 40 mile radius, it was difficult even over time to know all the properties intimately. I sometimes relied on colleagues for information (ie. the negotiator who had taken on the property and signed the mandate) but learnt to temper their enthusiasm for 'their' properties (One got a commission for bringing in a property that was eventually sold, another if you sold it as well. As a result everyone tried to push 'their own' properties first, in order to pick up both lots of commission). We did have fortnightly meetings, however, of all the negotiators where we each 'presented' the new properties we had mandated.  2. If time allowed (not always) I tried to pre-visit properties I intended to show to specific clients, so I would know what I was talking about and know the how to find it. Owners did not like this - 'Why are you turning up without a buyer with you?' was a common reaction. To be fair, properties that were occupied for example by working couples meant they had to take time off and be available for specific visits. Easier if we had the keys to an empty property. 3. Regarding the state of some properties - This was something I also liked to check in advance, as written descriptions are not going to emphasize the collapsing roof or the sewage works next door. As negotiators, one of our jobs was to seek out and mandate (take on for sale) properties to add to the agency's stock. Occasionally I visited properties that were in such a deplorable state that I refused to take them on, talking as gently as possible to the owner about the need to prepare a property for sale etc. Not easy. This was often taken as offensive by (French) owners who adopt the 'take me as you find me' attitude which some (French) buyers seem to accept. The (French) management of the agency could not understand my 'anglo-saxon approach' especially where a potential owner/vendor had approached the agency direct....... 4. Just one comment about buyers: I found there was a tendency to set up too many appointments, sometimes with different agents, in one day. For the reasons given in my earlier post, generally four to six visits in a single day is generally about the limit, especially to get a feel for the area as well. Thanks for your forbearance, P-DdeR.
  6. I don't think you can make a universal judgement based on individual experiences. The estate agent quoted in the original post has suggested you contact him to talk about the property. That seems like a sensible idea. I worked for nearly three years in a French estate agency, when the market was busier, which was specifically oriented towards British and other non-French buyers. There were over 500 properties on the website, spread across four offices and a dozen negotiators. Most of our time was spent dealing with visitors by appointment or who walked in off the street, having identified properties in the window or on-line. Because of distances, finding owners at home and arranging appointments, locating keys to empty properties held at the various offices - all meant that one could achieve at most three or four visits in a morning or after lunch. So a lot of time was spent outside the office, and what was left included admin - updating the website, and organising the mountains of paperwwork that accompany a sale etc. We did respond promptly to emails or phone people but sooner or later a potential buyer has to visit the territory, see what's on offer (a property seen some time ago could have meanwhile been sold) and arrange appointments to visit. I don't recall taking people to view properties they did not want, there simply was not time. However potential buyers are sometimes unclear about their requirements or preferences so one offered to show a selection as a guide to the sort of property available within their price range, as a first step. Okay, the market is quieter now but there are 10 000 fewer staff due to the recession, so those that remain are carrying the workload such as it is. Overall transactions are down by 18% but that still leaves a lot of sales going through with reduced staff. I now freelance and source from a range of local agencies, and I am also trying to sell my own property. I don't expect miracles, potential buyers arrive, visit - and then vanish. That's how it is so I am not hassling anyone, as I know the market is difficult, and they are doing the best they can - they have a living to earn like the rest of us. I am not trying to defend estate agents or justify bad service, but hope I have broadened the issue a little. Hope it helps.
  7. I am afraid there may be preferential creditors ahead of you in the queue, such as banks, tax authorities, social security etc, assuming there is any money left from which to recover. Given the - relatively - small sum I would be prepared to write it off. I say 'relatively' only because cases occur involving half finished properties abandonned by disappearing builders, that have cost their distraught owners many thousands of euros lost, and leaving them heavily in debt. As a matter of interest, have your trusted caretakers anything to say about all this? Are there any other clients of this builder locally who are in the same situation as you? There is strength in numbers, not only for any legal action but naming and shaming which sometimes brings results. Very sorry to read your post, and I hope you find a solution.
  8. In talking about furnished rentals of (very) small studios and apartments I was commenting on the successful formula employed by Elise Franck in city centres such as Paris and Lyon. In her book, to which I refer, she explains that her niche market comprises mainly single, young people on temporary assignments for work, study etc who generally want the smallest (ie. cheapest) solution possible. It's simply an approach which may work in some places but not others and the proof can be found in her worked examples on her website. P-D de R.
  9. It is surprising to read this thread, given that less than 60% of French are owner/occupiers of their main home, leaving 40% as renters. (Comparative figures for the UK are 70% and 30%). And the vast majority of landlords in France - apart from HLM - are private individuals and not institutions. One possible alternative is to go for short-term (1 year renewable) furnished lets, though ideally these should be (very) small studio apartments, ideally in city centres. I have posted some links on another thread but if anyone is interested in this sector I recommend the website www.elise-franck.com. She is a private landlord owning properties in Paris and Lyon and although her site is in French you can click on 'Projects' and see before and after pictures, plus detailed costs and revenues - purchase costs, transaction fees, conversion costs and revenue (rental income in euros and as a percentage). Hope this may be of interest to some of you. I've also written about her in the October issue of FPN.
  10. I cannot add much to the excellent information and advice so far given, but if I read your story correctly, the only thing I can suggest is Can you not try to do in England what you are proposing to do in France - i.e. continue to rent out the French property, but live in a caravan in UK while simultaneously renting out the British property? ( I am assuming both are summer/holiday rentals). As has been pointed out there seem to be more problems on the French side (healthcare, taxation etc) than there would be, as I see it, in the UK. As you won't be on site for the French rentals you would need to find a reliable care-taking/changeover service but that's not impossible to arrange. Hope this adds a bit more food for thought. Bon courage.
  11. The system is relatively uncomplicated. A vendor can sign one or more non-exclusive mandates with several agencies, who may charge different rates of commisssion (the rate is clearly expressed in the mandate). It is basically an agreement between the vendor and the agent under which the vendor asks the agent to try and sell his/her property, in return for an agreed commission payable to the agent. If the agent succeeds in finding a buyer for the property (and a transaction results), then the agent has fulfilled his part of the contract and the vendor becomes responsible to the agent for the latter's commission. The 'bon de visite' is just one of the pieces of evidence that might be produced in case of dispute, showing when the buyer was introduced to the property/vendor by that agent. French law and jurisprudence are unequivocal in enforcing the agent's right to his/her commission. The buyer's actions, of the sort you describe, are largely irrelevant: the contract is between the vendor and the agent. Sales mandates can be cancelled, normally after three months - for example, in the vendor withdraws the property from the market. But many include a clause entitling the agent to commission if a buyer first tinroduced by the agency returns with 24 months and a sale is completed by him/her. Once again, the law is quite clear on this.
  12. I am afraid this is equivalent to a 'standard' property transfer (sale) so it attracts the usual government fees and taxes, of which the Notaire's fee is probably less than 2000 euros.
  13. I think that the reply to your specific question will be that's what auto-entrepreneur was created for, with all the consequences I have outlined. Can I suggest you either visit your local CPAM office or wait for the next visit to your local town of the person from social security - your Mairie can advise. It is essential to get it right, before your commit to any possible change. P-D de R.
  14. Can I suggest that you proced very carefully, and check - including with CPAM, before doing anything official.  I am retired and signed up for auto-entrepreneur in 2009 but quickly pulled out when I found my sickness etc cover were transfered to a body called CIPAV (and there's another story!) without my being informed that CPAM were no longer my providers. I only discovered this when I came to use my Carte Vitale some months later, which had been cancelled;  and it took another 6 months at least to sort it out, meanwhile I was without any kind of cover. One would assume, from reading the documentation on A-E, that the CIPAV cover (in cases of someone retired) would be extra to CEPAM but apparently it was not. Three years later I am still trying to resolve the CIPAV side of things, as they demanded fixed-sum deductions which do not apply to A-Es - there is considerable coverage of their disastrous service on the website www.auto-entrepreneur.fr (rubrique Charges Sociales, heading 'CIPAV = blag?') which will give you an idea. CIPAV are responsible for sickness and pensions for liberal professions, and mistakenly lumped A-Es in together with their regular fulltime clients. The 'cheque d'emploi' may be the solution for you but I have no direct experience, having had to find an alternative solution in my own case. Hope this helps, and do take care - P-D de R.
  15. Replying to Sue and the question of the presidential aircraft: 1. It was paid for from the proceeds of the sale of two older aircraft, and justified in the interests of (increased) security which involves major public figures. 2. The much publicised train ride by President Hollande was analysed at the time by a security expert who pointed out that it presented a logistical and security nightmare which costs more than a similar journey by presidential aricraft. Among the issues causing concern (and adding to the cost of two first class TGV tickets!) are the known timetable and route of the train, necessitating increased security at every staion en route; police, hospital and army put on alert at every stage of the journey in case of an accident, illness or accident involving a passenger, or a terrorist attempt; surveillance by helicopter the length of the route, which is checked in advance; presidential cars and police escorts on standby in case of any emergency requring evacuation of the president and staff from the train at any point. Things are not always as simple as they seem - or as claimed by politcians.
  16. There is a lady based in Paris called Adrian Leeds and her team, who offer a range of services for - it seems largely Amrican -  buyers/investors in France including 'fractional' ownership. You can find her via Google, including her consultancy tarifs. She is the only person I have come across in this sector. Hope this helps.
  17. It is one of those popular myths that French properties are sold significantly below their asking price. Every buyer will assure you he got a bargain, every vendor that he held out for and got his asking price. If a property is for sale through an agency, it should normally be correctly estimated and priced in accordance with properties of a similar kind in that particular location. Unfortunately, no two properties are precisely the same, and consequently there is considerable leeway - depending on aspect, location, condition, disposition of the rooms, state of decor, age and condition of plumbing and electrics etc etc. If you are interested in a property, within your budget, then you can make an offer below the asking price - but to be convincing you must have a reason and cost estimate (eg a property needs completely re-wiring). You cannot expect an owner to reduce the price if the property is simply more than you can afford! One last word, private sellers notoriously over-value their property for emotional and nostalgice reasons, whereas an independent third party such as an agent will take a more realistic view. A recent report (which I have posted on the FrenchEntree forum) says the French property market is currently stagnant because potential buyers are hesitating (uncertainty about the future) and sellers refusing to reduce their asking price. The head of one of the largest French agency groups reckons that even a 5 or 10 per cent reduction would be enough to get the market moving again. Sorry, long answer to a short question, but as this is your first post I thought some additional info might help.
  18. The problem with the figures, whatever their source, is that they based on averages and generalisations, when - as has been pointed out - areas and types of property differ widely, and no two properties are the same. As an example, where I live, overall property sales are down largely because the housing stock comprises 70% second homes (official figures), including large numbers of holiday apartments. Figures for overall property sales (all of France) show that only around 7% concern second homes, when clearly in my area (the Mediterranean coast) the percentage of second homes offered for sale is much higher. There is accordingly a glut of second home properties on the market, and fewer sales.  Prices have not dropped significantly however (see the figures in the survey quoted in this thread), even though: 1. The majority of second homes are sold within 10 years of purchase (children grow up, decline of the seaside holiday, rental income declines etc) 2. Many of these holiday homes date from the 1960s and 1970s and require serious renovation (sound and heat insulation, plumbing, electrics etc) 3. The Sarkozy tax changes (CGT) make second homes less attractive as an investment. 4. In a crisis, a second home can hopefuly be turned into ready cash, so more people put them on the market. In contrast to the above, there are huge new housing developments springing up - 3 and 4 bedromm permanent family homes - all sold and occupied within months.  In spite of the area being known for its high unemployment it is one of the fastest growing in France! I think the above small example show that you have to study local housing markets and local prices in some depth before reaching any conclusions that can be applied more widely.
  19. A brief reply: 1. I have never come across a specific form, most offer letters were hand-written and signed, then countersigned by the vendor. 2. Perhaps best to liken them to a preliminary offer of finance from your bank, sometimes refered to as a 'letter of comfort', I doubt you could sue the bank successfully if in the eventuality they turned you down. 3. When describing the legal elements of a 'contract' (offer, acceptance, consideration) I was trying to clarify the difference between a contract and, say, a promise. If I say 'I will give you my gold watch when you are 21' there is no legal contract (because there is no consideration). 4. From what you say, I think you have covered all the angles - subject to obtaining finance, subject to clauses in the 'compromis de vente' etc. Don't forget your 7 days 'cooling off' period as well (extended if you meanwhile are sorting out your finances). Regards - P-D de R.
  20. An offer letter is generally used to confirm a written (as opposed to verbal) offer on a property, at - or more usually below - the asking price. If an agent is involved, he/she would normally have discussed with the buyer the level of offer (reduction) that the vendor might accept, and will convey your witten offer to the vendor and hopefully secure their counter signature, confirming their acceptance. As with the 'compromis de vente' which is the next stage, either side may include conditions (such as securing funds or, say, the vendor agreeing to finish certain works). I would also advise putting a time limit on any offer of, say, 24 or 48 hours, after which your offer lapses and you are free to continue looking at other properties. This is because a vendor may delay counter-signing if there is for example the possibility of a higher or full-price offer in the pipeline. This may happen where more than one agency is involved and/or there are several people interested in the property. As to the legality of a written offer, it contains all the ingredients cited in the law books - an offer, an acceptance, a consideration (the purchase price) - and could probably be enforced if someone decided to go down that route. But, is it all worth it............ That said, never ever make mutiple offers on several properties at once, hoping one will be accepted! You might find yourself committed to buying several properties. Protect yourself by using the time-limit noted above. And vendors - don't try and collect multiple offers, hoping for a kind of auction of your property: you may find all your would-be buyers get impatient, cancel and move on. The 'compromis de vente' is a more formal document, and with the payment of a deposit (not obligatory, though) by the purchaser, there is an element of protection for the vendor if the buyer changes his/her mind after signature. Hope this helps.
  21. Very interesting topic and I have just been researching an article for FPN for publication later this year, having come across a body called the Slow Home movement - based on the 'slow food' campaign (the antithesis of fast food!). For anyone looking for a first or second home in France or anywhere else I would recommened a book witten by the founders entitled 'What's wrong with this house?' by John Brown and Matthew North (available on amazon.com for under $20). The most interesting part is their checklist to use when deciding between two or more properties: it covers the location (aspect, environment etc) as well as checkpoints for each room and their relationship to each other. The book includes diagrams of similarly sized/priced properties but shows how one scores over the others in terms of 'livability' and good value. One point I would echo from undertaking numerous searches is to check and re-check the neighbourhood, at different times of day and the week, even the season. As noted areas can go down as well as up, and you need to be ruthless in your approach and avoid being blinded by  'falling in love' with a property. It is amazing how much you can overlook on a first visit.        
  22. I live on the coast between Argelès and Collioure and this morning there are still teams of three or four Canadairs coming over the Albères (foothills of the Pyrenees) every few minutes, and filling with water and circling back towards Le Perthus and Jonquera (Spain), so clearly there is still a lot of damping down to be done.
  23. I inherited a 200 litre water heater when I moved into my current apartment, which is far too large for a single person (50 L normally recommended) and I would change it but for the fact I am selling up and moving to my nearby town. I have always left the heater On, on the ground it is only heating up the (small amount of) water I use, whereas if I switched it Off the water would cool and require re-heating. I hope this sounds logical! But as suggested, if you are a large family and drain the tank, best to use the 'cheap rate' period to re-heat. If you are re-plumbing you can get small water heaters (50 L or less) to have a separate supply for the kitchen, say, or a shower. This may work out even more economical........and easier to plumb. I am investigating the options for my new place. Hope this helps  a bit.
  24. In my experience it is comparatively rare for a right of pre-emption to be exercised by the local commune, unless there are strategic reasons to acquire a property - for example, for road widening. I have had one case involving an apartment in a building the Mairie had already expanded into, needing more office space, and it was in a way logical for them to acquire this last remaining apartment in order that they could take over and refurbish the entire building. They paid the market price. With regard to buying (or at least signing a 'compromis' on) another property which depends on the successful sale of an existing one, as in the case of your buyers, this can be fraught with difficulties. Again it is comparatively rare in France, in my experience, to have a group of buyers and sellers locked into a chain, but I personally would not commit to buying another property until my existing one was sold (sale completed, money in my bank account!). I would advise not doing anything too rash yourselves until (nearer) completion. If you are intending to buy another property, there is plenty of choice out there, and you can express an interest in buying without commitment, and ideally sign your 'compromis' immediately after completing your sale. The time between 'compromis' and completion can be contracted, provided you and the Notaire have done all the preliminary paperwork, and at worstyou might be a week or two betwen homes, but better that than caught between two transactions. I realise (usually 10%) deposits are paid over by buyers and are recoverable, but recovery in the event of non-completion takes time, and can hold up your own plans if you are intending to buy based on the proceeds of a sale. But maybe I am just over-cautious.......
  25. Absolutely spot on, Sprogster! And extremely frustrating that as you say the French - and even a lot of estate agents - are so hung up on the price-per-square-metre. And this regardless of location, neighbours, aspect, disposition of the rooms (square metres lost through poor layout etc), condition etc etc. I am currently looking in Perpignan where the 'average' square metre price is just under 2000 euros, but I am seeing properties advertised at anything beteeen 1000 euros/m² (generally to be avoided) and occasionally over 3000 euros/m². Coming back to the Port area where I currently live, I am selling through a couple of agencies and also have my private For Sale board outside - invariably every phone call I get starts with 'How much?' At least if potential buyers visit one of the agencies they see the photos and other details before coming to the question of price. Briefly on the question of Spain compared with France, Spanish developers built on spec and got caught out at the end of a boom, leaving a surplus of around 1 million empty properties. Buyers bought on variable rate mortgages (as in USA) and are now faced with repayments two or three times higher than they anticipated - and this at a time of 25% unemployment. I saw yet another documentary a few nights ago where a family of six (three generations) offered to continue repaying around 500 euros a month but the bank is insisting on nearly 2000, and threatening eviction (even though this supposed to be forbidden under recent legilsation). The result is another homeless family and another unsaleable property owned by a bank. In France there is little or no speculative building (developments are at least 50% pre-sold before work begins), banks are cautious lenders and rates still hovering around 4%. There is a believed 'shortage' of some 2 million homes, in contrast with Spain. The French problem, as noted, is low output, high taxes and social charges, general uncertainty about the future. Little wonder that some 350,000 (working) French live in and around London and pay some of the highest rental prices in Europe (typically four sharing a £2000 per month furnished apartment).    
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