When Buying a Property in France, Avoid These Four Common Legal “No-no’s”:
Never agree to pay any part of the purchase price direct to the seller. Always insist that the full purchase price is paid via the notary. You will be required to make a declaration in the purchase deed confirming that the price stated in the deed is the full price and you are warned that any breach of this can lead to substantial tax penalties. You should politely ignore any suggestions from either the seller or the agent that “under the table” payments are common practice in the area. Put very simply, it is against the law. Where both the buyer and the seller are British it is quite common for them to agree to make the sale and purchase a sterling transaction. This is permissible and most notaries will agree to such a proposal but only on the basis that the sale price actually passes through the account of a UK solicitor who can confirm the funds have been paid and received. Therefore paying the purchase price in sterling direct to the seller will rarely be acceptable to the notary in France.
Be wary of those in France who suggest it is not necessary for you to have independent advice from a UK lawyer. You would not listen to such a suggestion if you were buying a property in the UK so why should you in France? You need to understand the legal implications of the documentation from an independent party and a basic translation provided from the estate agent is generally insufficient.
Do not believe the myth that the French don’t do surveys. French buyers generally appoint an architect, builder or other construction specialist to look over a property for them before they buy. Therefore don’t feel nervous of telling your seller or the agent that you have decided to have a survey carried out.And finally,
If you don’t understand what you are signing, don’t sign!
•With thanks to Barbara Heslop For more information, contact Heslop & Platt, Solicitors and French Law Specialists on +44 (0)113 393 1930 or see www.heslop-platt.co.ukOriginally published in the March-April 2014 issue of FrenchEntrée Magazine.This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal, or other professional advice. We would advise you to seek professional advice before acting on this information.