French Property Buyers Glossary

French Property Buyers Glossary

An A-Z of French Property Terminology, Purchasing and Building

abri – a small outbuilding, a shed or shelter for shade
acceuil – reception, welcome
acompte – deposit
Acte (de Vente) Authentique – Deed of Sale
agence immobilière – real estate agent
agglomere – chipboard
l’ancien propriétaire – the former owner
aménager – to convert
appartement – flat
ardoise – slate tile
ascenseur – lift
atelier – workshop
attenant – attached
attestation d’acquisition ot attestation de vente – a written certificate from the notaire sent to you after all the sale paperwork is completed
bâtiment – building
bergerie – sheep barn
bon de visite – a form you sign before viewing a house with a French immobilier to prevent you sunsequently buying it through another agent or privately
bricolage – DIY
buanderie – laundry
cadastre – local town planning register
carreleur – tiler
carte de séjour – resident’s permit, obtained from the Préfecture of the department
cave – cellar
cellier – pantry or store
certificat d’urbanisme – land use certificate
chambre – bedroom
charpentier – carpenter
chauffage – heating
chauffage central (abbreviation ch c) – central heating
chauffage central fuel – oil central heating
chéminee – fireplace
clause suspensive – a conditional clause which is used in the Compromis de Vente
combles – attic
Compromis de Vente – first stage agreement document in the sale process which legally commits the two parties; also called promesse de vente
cuisine – kitchen
cuisine américaine/USA – open-plan kitchen
cuisine d’étè – outside kitchen, BBQ area
démenager – to move house
demeure ancienne avec cachet – old building that has character
de plein pied – bungalow
devis – estimate for work
double vitrage – double glazing
duplex – maisonette
en tontine – inheritance arrangement whereby the surviving spouse takes full ownership of joint assets
entièrement rénové – renovated throughout
expert comptable – chartered accountant
FNAIM – Federation Nationale des Agents Immobilier
fosse septique – septic tank
frais de notaire – total amount of money paid to the notaire on top of the sale price (includes, notaire fees, registration duty, land registration duty and other charges)
frais d’agence inclus (FAI) – estate agent’s feed included
foyer – main hall (also the unit of people living together)
Les frais de notaire – notaire’s fees included
Les frais de notaire réduits – reduced notaire’s fees
fuelle – heating oil
grange – barn
grenier – attic
immobilier – property or real estate agent
impot – tax
individuel(le) – detached
loggia – covered terrace
lu et approuvé – phrases written accompanying signature of contract “read and approved”
maçon – builder
maison – house
maison de maitre – more formal, grander style of house
maison des amis – anything from an outbuilding to a separate apartment or cottage
maison mitoyenne – semi-detached
mairie – town hall
mandat – see bon de visite
menuiserie – joinery
meubles – furniture
notaire – Notary
parpaing – breeze-block
permis de construire – planning permission
pièce (abbreviated to P): room
pièce principale – main room
piscine – swimming pool
plan cadastral – the town plan showing properties and parcels of land
premier étage – the first floor
propriété – property
plomberie – plumbing
Promesse de vente – first stage agreement document in the sale process which legally commits the two parties; most commonly called compromis de vente
proximité – close to
puit – well
quatre pièces principales (abbreviation F4) which means a three-bedroomed house or flat with three bedrooms plus a living-room
(a)rafraîchir – in need of decoration
(à) rénover – to be renovated
refait neuf – newly restored
remise – barn
rez-de-chaussée (abbreviation rdc) – ground floor
salle de bain – bathroom
salle d’eau – shower room, usually with toilet
salon – dining room
salle a manger – dining room
sans vis-à-vis – not overlooked
séjour – living room or lounge
séjour-salon avec cheminée (35 mètres carrés) – living/sitting-room with
fireplace (area 35 square metres)
Société Civile Immobilière (SCI)- a company which can be set up exclusively to purchase property
sous-sol – the basement
style bastide – country style
surface habitable – habitable space, usually excludes bathrooms and garage – shown in square metres m2
T Type (e.g. T3, T4) – classification of property type and size showing the number of main rooms including bedrooms
taxe d’habitation – a local tax, partly means-tested, payable only from the December of the year in which you were the owner. Due on the 1st January in advance
taxe foncière – a government tax on property, payable pro-rata from date of completion to the end of December
terrain – land
toit – roof
toiture – roofing
TBE (très bon état) – very good condition
trois faces (abbreviation 3F) – a semi-detached building
TVA (taxe sur la valeur ajoutée) – French VAT
vidange curage – fosse septique emptying & treatment
Verser un acompte – to put down a deposit

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Sylvia is a freelance journalist based in France, focusing on business and culture. A valued member of the France Media editorial team, Sylvia is a regular contributor to our publication.

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