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Selling a French House part 1

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Barbara Heslop

Barbara Heslop of Heslop and Platt takes us through the 5 stages of selling a French property. Barbara will be with us for more features on the legal issues of being an expat in France. Here are the main points. Please listen to the programme for more information.
STAGE 1 – PREPARATION
Seller needs to have ready:
• Copy passport
• Marriage / divorce certificate
• Proof of current address
• Death certificate of any former joint owner
• Copy of title deed
• Copy of any ancillary docs (cu deed?)
• If applicable, copy of co-ownership deed and pv’s of last 3 yrs co-owners AGM’S
• Details (receipted invoices) of all major works carried out since purchase
• Copies of all planning authorisations (permis de construire / declaration de conformité) & guarantees given by the contractors
• Evidence of pool security system
• Copies of local tax bills - TH & TF

Seller needs to consider:

• Who in locality has a key to give access to agent and expert
• Whether sale to include all or some of house contents / furniture – if so – inventory required
• Any issues to disclose? Any ongoing disputes or litigation?
• Any new rights of way or easements created during the seller’s ownership?
• Any insurance claim made during seller’s ownership
• If seller has an outstanding mortgage – any early redemption penalty?
• Potential CGT liability unless it is main residence
• If property is less than 5 years old and is being sold for the first time, consider whether VAT is payable on sale.

Seller needs to

• Appoint notary and/or agent(s) to market property for sale
• Arrange compulsory reports (asbestos, lead, termites, energy efficiency, gas & electricity & drainage + certificate of habitable space for an apartment
• Seller to pay cost of these reports (300 – 1,000 Euros)
• Instruct agent or notary on asking price – net vendeur / FAI
• Sign a sale mandate –NB – All sellers must sign; property cannot be marketed without this being held by agent
• Consider carefully any offer received from a buyer and if it meets conditions of mandate – may be obliged to accept offer
• Check buyers circumstances and whether cash purchaser or reliant on securing finance

STAGE 2 – CONTRACT

• Prepared by agent or notary
• Seller must be aware of declarations to be given by seller
• Seller must be aware of all conditions to which sale is being made subject
• Most usual form of contract – compromis de vente – binds both parties
• Buyer gets a 7 day cooling off period; seller does not
• Ensure buyer transfers deposit before expiry of cooling off period and ensure agent / notary receives cleared funds

STAGE 3 – PRE-COMPLETION

• Don’t view completion date as a fixed date – it is only a target date. Not cast in stone
• Must maintain property in condition it was in when buyers first inspected
• Cannot make any material changes unless agreed with buyers
• Must maintain buildings insurance right through to completion
• For non-resident sellers – if sale price exceeds 150,000 Euros – need to appoint a tax agent to handle CGT calculation and declaration; also need to obtain certificate of UK tax residency to qualify for CGT tax rate applicable to EU – non French resident sellers
• Prepare to clear property of personal effects and furniture not included in sale
STAGE 4 – COMPLETION
• Once notary confirms ready to fix completion meeting – sign a POA or make arrangements to attend notary’s office to sign in person
• Provide notary with details of bank account to which net sale proceeds are to be transferred
• Check property is ready to be handed over
• Take final meter readings
STAGE 5 - POST COMPLETION
• Inform utility companies of transfer of ownership
• Inform insurance company of sale and cancel insurance cover
Please remember that all Expatsradio.com programmes are for guidance only and you should take specialist advice before making any plans or signing anything.
If you would like to speak to Barbara about legal matters for France you can contact her at: http://www.heslop-platt.co.uk/

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