French property legal advice will always be provided by your Notaire. However, if your French is not good and you are not familiar with French legislation regulating French property transactions you may find it helpful to use an English speaking law firm familiar with French property law.
French property law is fairly straightforward and very well regulated so you should not expect to encounter any difficulties with your purchase. In our experience, going back to 2004, the three most common, albeit very infrequent, problems arise from bad practice or lack of due diligence on the part of the estate agent. They are:
- Estate agents attempting to sell properties for which they have no seller’s mandat. This is illegal in all circumstances.
- Estate agents attempting to retain the purchase deposits of buyers who have exercised their right to withdraw from the purchase transaction. This is sharp practice and is most common where the agent does not hold a French Carte Professional but is a commission only sales agent.
- A badly drafted Compromis de Vente which gives rise to eventual ambiguity over what is and what is not included in the property sale.
French Property Legal Advice
When buying a French property using a French mortgage there are some specific areas of French property legal advice where it may be wise to look for help.
Purchase of French Residential Property
Whatever type of property you buy (villa, apartment, barn to renovate or off plan construction) you will eventually be asked to sign a purchase agreement (compromis de vente) later followed by the completion contract (acte). Both are substantial documents, both in size and import, and it is vital that you understand what you are signing because you will be putting a considerable sum of money at risk. If you have any doubts as to the detailed significance of the documents you are being asked to sign we would recommend you seek professional guidance.
Transfer of ownership
Property transfer, where the property is held on a French mortgage, can be surprisingly difficult. The difficulties typically arise from one of two causes, a reluctance on the part of the bank to release the outgoing borrower and unexpected tax implications of the transfer. If you are not entirely sure of the law surrounding the transfer of ownership we would recommend that you seek French property legal advice at an early stage.
Though the above sections cover the majority of the French law you will need to consider in the context of a French mortgage product, there will be many areas where French property legal advice may be needed. Examples include, French Wills, Estate Planning, Disputes, Litigation, Debt Recovery and Probate. If you are not domiciled in France or if you are unfamiliar with French law seeking impartial expert advice may save you time and money.