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Paying for French property in Pound Sterling

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I know that this can be done and I thank Stan Sreason for explaining it all to me at some length.  My question now relates to the notaire that the seller has chosen and who tells me that the payment has to be made in euros.

We have the money in sterling and the seller would prefer to be paid in sterling as he has gone back to live permanently in the UK.

The notaire has hinted that there are "problems" associated with doing the transaction in sterling.  Now, that might well be the case but I just thought that, before I ask him to explain what the "problems" might be, I'd put it to the Forum first.

I have, in the meantime, contacted the notaire that Stan Sreason used and I await the reply.  Would be good to know, though, if there are genuine problems because I don't want to invite problems, my policy being always to do what is the least hassle that will get results.

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The key question to ask is what price appears in the official documents - CdV and AdV.  If it is the agreed GBP price then I could see a potential problem on eventual sale of the property if the exchange rate has changed significantly - other wise not.  But then I could not claim to be an expert.

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Andy, I have given the notaire the price in euros to be put in the official documents and the fees, of course, will be based on that figure.

Stan Sreason has told me that, to avoid any doubt there was written into the documents, something along the lines of €x will be settled by the payment of £y.

I have agreed with the sellers that I will make a note of the exchange rate for the next 5 or 10 trading days and we will settle on a mean figure.

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This earlier topic might help


Judie has dealt with sales in sterling. You need to find a notaire willing to undertake the transaction, if the notaire already in place won't do it then you can instruct another one who will. As the two notaires will share the work there should be no extra fees payable in France, although some people recommend using a UK solicitor to hold the funds.

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Thank you, Will, I have read  your links very carefully and I find that I myself contributed to some of the posts!

But, the important thing for me was Judie's post and she, after all, is the professional amongst us.

Stan Streason has given me the name of his UK solicitor who held the money and I am going to stick out for what I want.

The last (first) time we bought, we were way too eager to please the sellers but this time, whilst having the seller's interests in mind, we are less inclined to agree to everything if only because we know the ropes now and are less desperate.  Also the market is now a buyers' market and so we can afford to state more assertively what our wishes are.

Many thanks, Will...........am now very clear what I need to do to get the results that I want.

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Update just in case other people are thinking of doing the same thing.

Have now spoken to the notaire that Stan Streason recommended who confirmed that the transaction in sterling would be straightforward as long as I could agree with the seller what the sum should be.

All that's left now is for the paperwork to be completed and for me to agree with the seller how best to pay him (cheque, bank transfer, via a solicitor, one to one, whatever).

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Looking back at the link to the previous thread I saw what was my first post on this forum.

It did all go through very easily.  The whole independent UK solicitor holding the funds bit was just me bending over backwards to ensure fairness to the vendor.  I could just have easily arranged a direct TT but it also gave the notaire some comfort as he knew there were cleared funds available which in normal circumstances they would have in their own account.

Last February when I completed the exchange rate was at its worst so the euro equivalent went into the contract at about 1.06.  Great for the vendor as his euro capital gain was much reduced, wheras my euro cost starting price is very low.

Good luck.

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Hi, Stan, I did PM you, just to let you know how grateful I was for your recommendation of the nice chap from Ruffec.

Only problem now is, the vendors have already appointed a notaire, as explained, and their notaire told me that the sale would have to be in euros.

I suppose I shall now have to tell our man what the other notaire has said.  The thing is, both us and the sellers would really prefer the transaction to be in sterling, for the obvious reason that our money is in the UK and the sellers have already left France to go back to the UK.

As we are going to be picking up the tab for the legal fees, I feel that, when push comes to shove, I shall insist on calling the tune.

One of the reasons we have chosen to buy a second house at this time is to put our money in something other than a UK bank and I don't want the anxiety of worrying about which way the exchange rate is going to go.

I have told the seller that I would make a note of the exchange rate for the next 10 trading days and then we can mutually decide on an average over the 10 days.

As we both bank with the same institution in the UK, he is happy for me to just transfer the money into his account when the time comes.

Any more thoughts, anybody..........Will?

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I guess so, Renaud, no problems with that except, wasn't there something from the Law Society recently about solicitors holding client accounts and are then unable to pay out?[:-))]

It will have to be a long-standing law firm known to the sellers, I think.  I shall ask him....

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Thanks you for your input, Judie and Renaud.

I think the sellers are too vulnerable and doddery to be dishonest!  I think, as the notaires will know the amount in sterling and there will be a note on the transaction documents as to what the sterling amount will be, I will get the bank to give me written confirmation of my instructions.

I can then let the sellers have a copy of this.  We'll have to get a firm date and I will make sure the cleared funds are in his account on that date.  He tells me he is going to have the signing done by power of attourney and therefore, if he is using someone in the notaire's office, he should be well protected.

Only thing is, Judie, is there going to be a problem with his notaire saying the payment should be in euros?  I mean can my notaire insist, on our behalf, that the payment be in pounds?

I'm damned if I'm going to spend the next 3 months on tenterhooks about the exchange rate.  Yes, I know I can foreward buy the money but I'd grudge the commission.  I'd rather, if the exchange rate does go against us, that the seller has the money instead of the bank or fx company.

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Thanks for all your input, everybody.

Yes, it is the seller's notaire who told me no can do in sterling in the same email that he asked for our personal details.  I have not replied as yet to his email.

What I will now do is to put my own notaire in the picture.  I have also emailed the seller to tell him the state of play.  I feel sorry for him as he'd changed his notaire once already (nothing to do with me, he did it off his own bat because his first notaire wasn't replying to his phone calls or emails).

Now, of course, he's already changed once and has given all his details to this second notaire.  As explained he is a bit doddery and indecisive (else this deal would have been wrapped up already).  I don't want to push him too hard or worry him unduly.  He has a disabled wife and a dicky heart and I don't want to stress him out more.

I am hoping that he will come back to me and say he'd change to our notaire but I find it hard to say look here, just come on board with our notaire and it will be full steam ahead ,otherwise the deal's off.  I am not sure how much of the selling process the old boy understands and don't want him to go away with the mistaken impression that I am trying to railroad him in some way.

You know how some of these elderly folk get bees in their bonnets!  (not that I'm elderly myself, oh no, I'm just interestingly mature, moi!)

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[quote user="Judie"]Benjamin, it's the sellers' notaire who is potentially causing the problem rather than Sweet's notaire.[/quote]

sweets wants to.

Yes I understand that Judith. The point I'm making is that there are too many in France who just stick to the way they've always done things even though, from other postings, there appears to be nothing illegal in doing it the way Sweets wants to.

He who pays the piper and all that.  [6]

EDIT: No idea why the first few words are where they are.

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No, Paul, private sale.  On the plus side, I have just received an email from the seller to say that he has told his own notaire that our notaire is happy to do it in sterling and he has invited him (his own notaire) to contact ours.

This is what I was hoping he would do and I have now also put my own notaire in the picture.

According to the seller's chap, sales are only legal in euros (or at least, that is what he has implied).

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"According to the seller's chap, sales are only legal in euros (or at

least, that is what he has implied)."

I think this is true, the Notaire must have a figure in euros for the sale, so he can work out the taxes.

It's up to the seller & buyer to agree an exchange rate to reach that sum in euros.

So that on the day of signing the compromis de vente, it's the pre agreed sum in euros that go on the paperwork, irrespective of the exchange £/€ rate on that date.

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