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Buying a house abroad

(18 Posts)
BonjourMeDarlin Tue 28-Mar-17 14:39:56

I am hoping to buy a house in France and would like any advice anyone has please, especially with regards to how much to offer - is it like England where you put a low offer in first?
Also we may need a small mortgage, would be better to get one in England or France?
What happens with the notaire and are there any other fees or costs to think about?
I have found some basic information on a website but I would love to hear from anyone who has done it in real life smile
Thanks in advance

BonjourMeDarlin Thu 30-Mar-17 20:49:40

Just bumping this as I would love some advice.

OCSockOrphanage Thu 30-Mar-17 20:57:05

Depending on where you are hoping to buy in France, you are probably in a strong situation, given that most of French property is in meltdown outside very desirable areas. Take the asking price and reduce your offer by 25 or 30% from there. You can always go up, but there are lots of people who need to sell, without asking about your circumstances, except whether you can proceed.

OCSockOrphanage Thu 30-Mar-17 20:58:31

If you are talked to, you can always offer higher!

BonjourMeDarlin Thu 30-Mar-17 21:19:35

Ah thank you, I wanted to have an idea of a percentage below the asking price to offer so that's helpful smile

MooseyMouse Fri 31-Mar-17 05:37:59

Apparently in France you can't disinherit your children so there are lots and lots of empty properties which have been inherited by a group of siblings, none of whom stand to gain a lot by the sale, or who can't agree on a sale price. These properties can be a pain to buy.

BonjourMeDarlin Sat 01-Apr-17 14:34:48

So I need to be careful if the property is empty.
Also I am unsure what brexit will mean for those who own property abroad or who will buy it in the near future.
So much to think about! confused

AdaColeman Sat 01-Apr-17 15:00:43

Make sure that you understand about the various services to the house you decide on, has it got mains drainage, piped gas, its own water supply for instance.

Get exact details of any boundaries shared with NDNs, and of any joint shared access.

If it is a rural location remember that NDNs dogs, roosters, etc etc will be noisey and smelly.

Don't expect any fixtures and fittings to be left by the vendor, they tend to strip everything out.

Before you decide, visit your building at all times of the week, that quaint barn next door that has been silent while you visited on a Sunday, could house a panel beating workshop during the week.

If you plan to extend your building, French planning laws are a minefield, especially if you are close to any old buildings/constructions.

You can't ask too many questions when buying in France, the Notaire is not the same as the estate agent here, their main concern is that you pay the correct amount of tax on the purchase, not that you are getting a fair deal.

caroldecker Sat 01-Apr-17 15:19:37

In terms of the mortgage, what currency are you earning the money to pay it in? This is the currency you should borrow in, so FX changes do not hit you.

JoJoSM2 Sat 01-Apr-17 20:25:35

Have you looked into ownership by a foreign national ( presumably you aren't French?). Also, the pound is low at the moment so might not be the best time to by unless you don't mind losing money when you come to sell.

BonjourMeDarlin Sat 15-Apr-17 16:10:54

We looked at the house and we love it 😍
I asked all those questions thank you ada
We will be paying in English pounds carol and we earn in English pounds too.
Jo we hope to keep it to live in when we retire so hopefully won't sell it. We are late 30's now so will use if for holidays until then.

BonjourMeDarlin Sat 15-Apr-17 16:15:34

The owner actually owns 3 of the properties that are next to each other and they have all been for sale for 3 years. I am going to check our finances when we get home and make a very low offer I think - maybe in the next few months.

bouncydog Sat 15-Apr-17 19:14:30

Before you proceed you really need to speak to an English speaking lawyer who fully understands all of the aspects of French law. There can be tax implications for you, problems with wills etc if you/your partner dies owning property in France and awful tax issues fir beneficiaries. E.g. Taxes have to be paid by beneficiaries within 12 months of inheritance regardless of when the property sells. How do I know? We spent months trying to resolve a relatives estate - several years down the line the property remains empty and unsold and will fall into disrepair - the beneficiaries handed it over to the State to deal with. A solicitor friend found a piece of land to purchase and it took him several years to close the deal because it was owned by over a dozen people!

whataboutbob Sun 16-Apr-17 21:29:19

I second what a PP said about Notaires not being the equivalent of English/British solicitors but being primarily responsible for collecting taxes on behalf of the French state, not for representing your interests. I sold my grandparents' property in France and the notaire tried to charge more tax than was needed, I had to read up on French law and argue him down to the correct amount. I think their principle must be if in doubt, collect too much tax not too little.

Blossomdeary Sun 16-Apr-17 21:35:24

Get some proper advice - the system in France is very different. Get on google and find the places to get advice. Do not proceed without it. Try for France - they usually have English people who are resident in the relevant area who will advise you (sometimes for a small charge). You can truly come unstuck if you do not have a proper grip on things.

mummytime Sun 16-Apr-17 22:19:45

We were looking at this last year, and would definitely employ an English Solicitor in addition to the Notary. There are lots of French Property shows (one in wetherby soon I think).
Whatever you do get legal advice before doing anything else. You sound as if you know very little and are in danger of making a very expensive mistake.

BonjourMeDarlin Tue 18-Apr-17 22:20:22

I am definitely going to get some more legal advice - you may be right mummytime as I don't know much about it. That's why I started this thread, over the years I have been on mumsnet I have found the posters on here to be awesome and their advice to be invaluable. smile
We don't have much money at all, we would be taking on a mortgage or a loan but I have been having a midlife crisis of sorts and its been my dream to have a house there and live there and I think it would be a good life for my children in the near future or me and my husband when we retire, we wont be able to buy a house here due to being stuck in the renting trap.

Blossomdeary Tue 18-Apr-17 22:42:14

Please do you research very thoroughly indeed. A mid-life crisis is not a good basis for making such a major decision!

If you have school age children you must investigate the French school system in minute detail in order to decide whether you really want this for your children. If you think the British system is becoming narrow then it has nothing on the French system.

It is also very important indeed that you have a grasp of the language - there are many areas of France where the Brits are not welcomed with open arms, especially if they do not try and learn French.

The least of your challenges is working out the legal minefield of house purchase where the law is very different. Your real challenge is making sure that your decision is the right one for all your family in terms of employment prospects, education, the tax system, acceptance by your neighbours, which area of France, social life, being apart from wider family etc.

We have been down this route in the past and done masses of research, including many visits at different times of the year, detailed investigation of opportunities for the activities we enjoy in the area chosen, observing the subtle social cues to decide about the level of acceptance from locals etc. We eventually decided against it. We are both reasonable French speakers so had a bit of a head start, but still we concluded it was not for us.

My strongest advice to you would be to set apart a year for in depth investigations about the things that matter to you and your family before looking at properties. They look cheap and this can turn your head! You have to live in more than the house - you have to live in the general society. Renting in Britain need not be a "trap" but is a sensible option for many.

I would say to start with the education system and see what you think.

Some people do make the transition successfully and happily - many come back after a short while.

Good luck with your deliberations.

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