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In the latest part of our Ask The Expert series, we’ve been chatting with someone who’s used to helping people find their dream home in France. If you harbour dreams of owning property there, you may find what he says useful.
Paul Niwano of 4 Property, is a British estate agent working in the Val d’Isere area. He answers some of your questions.
Are estate agents in France regulated?
“There are numerous requirements and regulations to adhere to in order to trade as an estate agent in France. Individuals are permitted to trade under a licence owned by a person or company but they are also hugely regulated and must have a Carte Commercial. The reputation of agents in France is often deemed as more credible than the UK because of this directive. The sales commission in France is also much higher than the UK. These are set by the local governing bodies and do include 20% VAT which is payable by the agent.”
How much do properties cost in France?
“Like in all countries, properties are priced based on various factors. The ‘location, location, location’ adage plays out in most of these and it is often worth paying a premium for this benefit. Often it will pay back handsomely both from a rental yield and capital growth point of view. Properties are often priced per square metre, with variations based on size and condition. For example, in Val d’Isere, where we have an office, the benchmark is around €10,000 per square metre. A good approach to purchasing is to decide on a budget per square metre within a certain area.”
What should you look for in an agent?
“The first thing to do is look for experience. Ask the agent how long they have been in the area and in the industry. With experience comes knowledge and purchasing a property requires sound advice from a knowledgeable agent. If you want assurance of compliance, look for the licence number of the agency. By law they must have their licence on display.
“You should like the person you are dealing with, and you should feel like you’re able to view as many properties without being made to feel difficult or pressured. It is often wise to view properties both below and above one’s actual budget simply to get a good overview of the marketplace.
“If you don’t speak French, ask if they have documentation in English. We have all the legal documents in English though we are not legally permitted to include these as part of any sale. They are for information only and to give peace of mind to anyone who does not speak French.
“A relationship with a notary could be useful moving forward (should you decide to buy) as any agent will have a working relationship with a reputable notary who then handles the purchase for you. Fees are fixed so it is important to ensure you have a thorough understanding of these prior to signing.”
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