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What problems have you had/ expect to have when buying ?


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[quote user="Quillan"]

No, I'm not treating buyers like morons but we are as a nation, nice people who don't want to make a fuss.

Well I think you are wrong. A lot of Brits in my area see the locals a peasants, badly educated, bordering on being idiots and hold them in total contempt. To be honest from my experience it's usually the Brits that fit this description and not the French and I actively encourage Brits to go buy somewhere else, the further away from here the better.[/quote]

Ohh, don't be like that - I understand we judge from personal experience but that means you are the unluckiest person over here with British neighbours :-) WHERE DO YOU LIVE-ish, so I may avoid your fellow compatriots ?

I know one 'brit' who is a bore, doesn't make any effort to speak or learn French but the rest really enjoy mixing it with the French - that was part of being here - I personnaly have trouble understanding why anyone should come over here and then ignore and just despise 'the natives' ! I do understand why you should want 'em to buy elsewhere :-)

Here, building land is 12-22 euros per m² !

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I read somewhere that this year 600,000 houses were bought by British and Irish and that it was forecast that a further 800,000 were expected to be bought in 2006 ! If this is a fraction of buyers a couple of years back........

And do you actually believe this? Is this what you would base a business plan on?

Allowing for an average family size of three persons, there are about 20,000,000 households in Britain. Are you really suggesting that this year one household in 30 moved from Britain to France? That next year one household in 25 will move to France? In the space of two years one household in 15 will have moved to France. Does that accord with your experience or knowledge of either country? Such numbers are fantasy. One judgement that I have seen is that there are perhaps 600,000 houses which are owned by British people - as either first or second residences.

I saw this stated in another part of this forum. It says much for people's numerical capabilities that nonsense such as this is so readily believed.


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Reading through this thread i feel some of you may be being a little hard on Seanie.  We recently purchased in france for the first time most of our knowledge was gained through sites like this or books, however we did not feel confident enough to go it alone (or so we thought).  However we ended up purchesed a house privately just by driving around the areas we wanted to be and looking for houses with private for sale signs.  This was not intentional as we also visited lots of agents who showed us lots of places that were not suitable or were in the wrong places.  So we decided to narrow it down by choosing the area we knew we wanted and then looking for houses for sale privately or through agency signs, we then contacted the agent because we knew they had a property we wanted to see. (if you see what I mean)

It was just luck that we found a private sale the man spoke no english (why should he) and I spoke only limited french but at the end of the day he wanted to sell so between us we made the effort and we negotiated after TOH and I had decided a ceiling price that we would go up to that we thought the property was worth to us.  Luckily we got it 5000 euros below our top price and made a saving of 22000 euros against the price with the agency ( of course that would have been lowered through negotiations). At that point we would of thought about using a private individual that was not an estate agent but could assist us with the following through of the transaction mainly because of language difficulties and because it would be diffiicult to do everything from the uk while we were working.  However we have managed the whole thing ourselves with the help of course of our Notaire (who has been great)  We have managed all the utilities ourselves and bank accounts ect .Ok we may have been lucky and weve had to bite the bullet and try things in our best French.  However my point is we may have considered using someone to assist just to give us peace of mind and to save the stress of trying sort everything out whilst holding down demanding jobs and families.


I dont think there would be enough call for it for anyone to make much of a living

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‘Here, building land is 12-22 euros per m² !’

At that price it would have to be very exceptional land.

In our area of France good quality building plots are far below this figure:


This is for a reasonable amount of land in a rural location with views rather than lotissement land.

I cannot imagine that the Vendée has any price premium over Lot-et-Garonne.


Bob Clarke


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Thankyou Ragdoll for your constructive comments, for sharing your experiences and congrats with your purchase !

Clarkkent - who said households were moving here, I quoted the figures I'd heard of people BUYING here - it doesn't imply that buyers will move here ! Investments for later use or for renting out now or holiday homes or for retired parents or, or, or...there are many reasons (right or wrong) why people buy abroad ! Thankyou for your contribution btw :-)

Maybe we should ask Ragdoll if they are quitting their jobs and moving across with their families ?

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Bobc - that's what they're quoting here - there is almost full employment here in North Vendée and there is a lack of rentable housing, particularly 3 beds. plus so people (French) are building and renting out ! They're getting quite entreprenant :-)
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12-22 euros a square metre? We paid around 22 euros 24 years ago and now it is around 100 euros in our village and that wouldn't guarantee a decent plot either. Good example of the two France's.

Ragdoll, surely all you needed was an interpreter so that those questions could be asked on your behalf. You managed, or appear to have managed anyway, so did you really need anyone. And let's face it if there is something wrong, ie problems with the building, or a new TGV line or high voltage electricity lines etc etc then a handholder would not have made much difference would they?

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It is 175 per m² on the Vendée coast - example of two Vendées ? Supply and demand - no more - no less ! I don't believe in 'your' two France's ! It is a multi-layered society...atm !

You try to group us all together to agree with you  - "let's face it" and then add a question mark at the end "...would they ?" You're not convinced Teamedup, eh ?

I think it's clear from Ragdolls' text that they were very satisfied with the negociations they accomplished, I don't think that they went further to find out more info (please come in and confirm/deny Ragdoll) and they clearly stated that had someone been availailable, they would have considered engaging them.

It's not a question of whether buyers can or can't do their own work, it's a question of choice, as stated by Ragdoll, some buyers may simply prefer to have someone else do the work whilst they continue with their lives/responsibilities/obligations !


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Oh I firmly believe in my two France's. I reckon that many a brit takes the 22 euros or less as an example of France along with council taxes that are next to nothing, which they are in some places, although I do not know how any Mairie can manage on such fiscal collections.

As I said before there are people available to do all this sort of thing at a price and always was. I just don't quite know what is being paid for here. There are perhaps some things that will end up being more important than saving a couple of thousand euros, inofrmation of the sort which the notaires do not necessarily cover.

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Just to clarify my view


Before we bought we knew that to buy direct from a Notaire or Privately would save on fees  so of course that is what we would have prefered.  But being 1st TIME BUYERS in France we did not feel confident enough to only go down this avenue.  When first looking we did look at properties for sale with notaires but found the choice to be limited.  Once we found our house (private sale) we found the whole event easy and straightforward.  Like someone else said part of the process is the unknown factor and I quite enjoyed dealing with everything first hand as I knew exactly where we were.  However I think we were lucky in that the French seller has been very easy to deal with and has played no tricks and has not taken advantage of the fact that he speaks no English and my French is limited.  However there has been times when I had wished we did have the option of employing someone to ask questions to the seller.. Such as  "What are our neighbours names" Who owns the vinyard next door"  Who is your water supplier  When was your boiler last serviced  What is your landline phone no as FT need it to start up our new contract ect  sort of incidental things.  There are also rich UK's who are always willing to pay for things that save them time as they can probably earn more money concentrating on their job in UK.

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dealing with house (apart from my own purchase s) - no I don't buy and I don't sell houses for others !

Negotiating generally, yes, selling other things, yes !

This all sounds very feeble but the desire to genuinely help people and be paid as a direct result of that help (at no net cost to the buyers) that drives me to try this !

My job was a quality control technicien for a company constructing motorways - l'A83, A87, A11, A10, A28 , A346, A7, A9, A89, A1, A26 -  I've worked on 'em all and loads of other stuff besides !

I used to drive 1300kms every weekend plus the kms I did in the week, there and back to be with my family so doing a few 100 kms in a week to visit houses on behalf of others is nothing !

I gave up the job to work this project, the website is coming along, the rest of what I need  (hardware) I've got now, the remainder is to finalise the website and take out my ads ! I expect I shall visit at least the major property fairs in the UK, Ireland and since I spent 4years in Holland (and speak it), I shall probably visit them too. I suspect that the Dutch buy much lower than me here but it might be worth a visit up there, I've still loads of friends who'll put me up and it'll be great to see them !

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Hi to all

I've just read through all of this thread and find it very interesting. We are planning to buy in Lower Normandie sometime during the next year or two, but for the time-being have put our househunting on hold for several reasons. Over the past year we have viewed quite a few properties mostly with an agency but some privately. We did make an offer on a couple of the houses through an agency (one French-owned house the other English-owned) but in each case the owners would only accept a very small reduction in price, which we felt still made the house too expensive. I've recently checked the agent's website and those particular properties are still for sale.

My French is reasonable and it's been enjoyable to visit Mairie's and gleen all of the information that we needed about the local area - no problem at all. The information we now need is the exact route of the impending pylons running through the Manche and news of whether or not a landfill site will materialise - it's just a matter of waiting and sitting it out until both of these decisions are made.

In answer to Seanie's original question regarding using someone to negiotiate a better price, in our experience we could negiotiate until the cows come home and put all of the negative facts about the property at the feet of the owner BUT still they would not accept our offer .Looking at agency websites in Normandie now and reading what others have written about the slowdown in sales, it seems that a lot of prospective British purchasers have turned away from buying in France as there are very few bargains left, if any! One agency based in the south of Normandie has over 800 properties for sale on their website, and they're increasing weekly!

Seanie are you proposing to assist people who have already chosen a property through an agent, I've not fully understood what you're planning? From our point of view we would be much more likely to use services such as yours if we were buying privately or through a notaire, but the greatest help to us would be hunting out private property sales from local newspapers and advertisements and vetting the property itself - these are things impossible to do from our home in the UK.

Bonne annee et bonne chance!

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There are a lot of things which can go wrong when buying here in

France. I'm am in the process of buying a forest and there many

problems with

several people claiming property for the same piece of land, legal

papers which suddenly "disappear" from the Mairie, etc. My first advice

if you are not used to our system is to avoid buying on auction. I

would also avoid buying a plot and building a new house or buying in

Corsica. And don't rush. Maybe rent for a year or two before byuing so

that you can learn to know the area. In my place for instance

(Hérault), you would have to be carefull with floodings and this is not

so easy. Another good reason to wait is that in some places, the prices

are starting to go down.

From experience, I would say that the key point when buying is to have

your own Notaire. Never ever go sign with the seller's notaire alone.

The trick is that if you come with your notaire and the seller with his

own, the fees will not be higher : The Notaires will simply share the

fees. The tradition is that it is the Buyer's Notaire who will do most

of the work and you will eventually sign in his office. And do not ask

your notaire to negociate or find your house : Your own notaire should

not have any interest in the transaction and the always help you and

only you. Even so, Notaires often make mistakes and having two of them

checking each other is safer. And if you are not happy with your

notaire, just make it clear that you may consider go find another.

Once you have a Notaire you can trust, you can approach a seller in the

following way : visit the house several times but never show him you

really like his house. Talk a lot with him about every possible subject

so that you start knowing and (hopefully) trusting each other (I would

talk for days !). Then, make a writen offer with a short term ( maybe 3

days) and with a "chèque de banque" to YOUR Notaire (3000 to 10000

euros) and ask for a writen reply. This way of doing sounds respectful

and serious to the "traditional" french. there are so many ways for the

buyer to breack a compromis de vente before the final transction and

this is a waste of time and money (surveys have a limited validity) for

the seller. This is why he would possibly accept a lower offer from a

serious/trustful buyer. He may refuse and return the chèque to you,

accept the offer (in which case his is legaly engaged), or make and

counter offer.

An estate agents would do this for you. Sometimes they really help you

lowering the price, sometimes it is your interest to try to bypass

them. A few are entirely trustfull but this is not the rule. Always ask

for their fees and try not to pay more than 7% ( I paied 10% for our

new house last month but I was VERY happy with the final price). Do not

base your offer on the seller's price but on your own estimate. If the

price tag is too high, don't even make an offer and do not hesitate to

look upset or take it as a joke (Looking upset is the french national

sport after all and there is a lot of theatre in this business). For a

House in decent shape, don't bother making an offer less than 2/3 of

the seller's price.

A few tricks about the "Frais de Notaire". These are not only the

actual Notaire fees but also, and mainly, taxes. A first way to reduce

them is to pay part of the price "au noir" = "sous la table" (I don't

know how to translate this and I'm not suggesting you to go that way).

Don't do that if this is not going to be your main house and you expect

to resel before 15 years : you would pay another tax called "sur les

plus value". Another way if an estate agent is involved is to make sure

you pay his fees (not the seller). You will be requested to sign a

mandat with the agent and the official price will be exclusive of his

fees. Last trick : you don't have to pay any frais de notaires for the

furniture left in the house such as the cuisine equipement. In other

words, whatever you buy, the furniture of the cuisine is always 10000

euros worth as the taxman will never come check it ;-). Hope this helps

(sorry but there are tricks I won't write !). Daniel.

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[quote user="daniel1"]There are a lot of things which can go wrong when buying here in France. I'm am in the process of buying a forest and there many problems with several people claiming property for the same piece of land, legal papers which suddenly "disappear" from the Mairie, etc. My first advice if you are not used to our system is to avoid buying on auction. I would also avoid buying a plot and building a new house or buying in Corsica. And don't rush. Maybe rent for a year or two before byuing so that you can learn to know the area. In my place for instance (Hérault), you would have to be carefull with floodings and this is not so easy. Another good reason to wait is that in some places, the prices are starting to go down.
From experience, I would say that the key point when buying is to have your own Notaire.

I am intrigued as to why you should not buy land and build your own house. There are a few people on this forum who have and in reading their posts they are generally pleased with the end product. OK the biggest problem is that the house never seems to finish on the date specified but many, including French people, accept this as a fact of life.

When you say a second notaire do you mean just that or do you mean using a English solicitor who is knowledgeable in French law?


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We bought land and built and in some ways it probably wasn't the most economic way of buying. However, those that were for sale were awful anyway.

Also we had our own notaire and everyone deplaced 50 kms for us to sign in his office, although that was a long time ago now.

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I would not build because it is slow, complex, stressful and often more expensive than buying.

As for the notaire, I meant your own (french) notaire, not the same as

the seller's. There may even be a third notaire involved when they act

as estate agents (http://www.immonot.com/).

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Seanie - to go back to your original question about problems when

buying - we are friendly with 20-30 british families here and have only

heard of two who had such problems. One was a complicated affair where

the french vendor fell out with son in law and committed suicide. Then

the s-i-l sold privately and changed the amount of land so buyer

withdrew.The other was due to a french neighbour who hated the british

and caused much upset. I suspect that most apparent problems are due to

language complications. Pat.

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  • 5 weeks later...

When buying you should:

Ignore the people trying to jump on the bandwagon and make a few bucks, by scaring people into believing that they need a nanny to help them through all the totally straightforward procedure.

Tour all the estate agents and notaires in the area that you want to buy.

Do NOT agree to go on any visits or take away any photos of properties, or sign a "bon de visite" and look at the outside of a property, do none of this.

TALK to them all, find one that you feel comfortable with, that can answer all questions to your satisfaction, that is actualy interested in finding you the type of property you want, an stick with them. If your standard of French isn't up to scratch, insist you have an agent that speaks adequate English or find one that does, you are spending a lot of money, don't feel silly asking, you are the client

I have been doing this job for 2 years, I know my stuff, we are completely open and straightforward with all our clients, or we would not still be trading. We offer services way above and beyond the call of duty for our foreign clients, and are respected by all the local notaires. We are French owned and run.

The market is totally saturated at present with agencies, I fear some of the chaff will fall by the wayside this year! Hows that for a mixed metaphor!!

Also, if one seeks the advice of an solicitor based in the UK, if he or she gives you bad advice, under who's judicial system will you make your complaint stick?



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