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How to buy property on the French Riviera - A step by step guide

Once you’ve decided that you wish to buy a property on the Cote d’Azur and you’ve explored the different areas, familiarised yourself with the prices by regularly watching our website and decided how much you can spend, it’s time to start your search in earnest!

1 -MORTGAGE - First step is to get good mortgage advice and if possible an Agreement in Principle. If you know you need to rely on a mortgage to purchase your property you should get at least a verbal agreement from a bank or broker before you start your visits. Contact us at Attika and we can put you in touch with various English speaking banks and brokers who are excellent. Not only does this help you avoid disappointment by visiting properties which later turn out to be beyond your budget, but many banks will give you a prior agreement letter which reassures vendors and can help you with your negotiation when you do fall in love with a property. Remember that prices include all agency fees etc but not Notaire fees which are generally 7-8% (depending on whether you are getting a mortgage) ontop of the advertised price on any French site.

2-RESEARCH AND SEND LINKS Once you have an idea of how much you can spend, keep an eye on our website which is updated daily and find out more about the particular areas of Nice you are interested in here for Nice, or here for Cannes. Contact your Attika agent and let us know when you are coming over and your list of property criteria. Remember properties don’t stay on the market for long so if you’re not coming for a while, don’t be surprised if the properties you saw on our site 4 weeks ago are no longer available for viewing. If you see properties on other agents’ sites, send the link to us and we’ll include that property for you in your itinerary of property visits. No need to go to several different agencies as we all share properties !

3 – OFFER When you come over to the Riviera for your visits, bring any bank agreement with you, your ID papers in case you do fall in love with a property and your French cheque book for the deposit (if you have a French cheque book, don’t worry if not). Bring your walking shoes if you are visiting city centre Nice apartments or city centre Cannes as it’s difficult to drive in town and your agent will probably take you on foot! When you find the property that you love you’ll put in an offer and your Attika agent will negotiate a price for you. You will usually make a verbal offer first and then a written offer

4- COMPROMIS DE VENTE Once a price has been agreed, you’ll move to the Compromis de Vente which is an agreement to purchase signed by the buyer and the seller. Either your agent or your notaire will draw up this document and it will include a property description and references, any furniture which is included, price, agency commission, diagnostic details, date for the final handover of the property which is usually around 3 months from the signing of the compromis. Any suspensive conditions (get-out clauses) are included and this automatically includes the suspensive condition for obtaining a mortgage unless you specifically write that you do not need a morgage

 

5- 7 DAY COOLING OFF PERIOD – LOI SRU Once both buyer and seller have signed the compromis, the document has to be sent to you (the buyer) at your home address. A copy has to be sent to each person who is named as a buyer so if several of you are buying you will each receive a letter. This is sent by registered post and you have 7 days to withdraw from the sale starting from the day after you receive the letter (The SRU law which protects consumers).If you wish to continue with the sale, you must send a 10% deposit to your notaire and this is by cheque or bank transfer which your agent will help organise. If you do not obtain your mortgage in the 30-45 day period this cheque will be refunded to you

6- OBTAIN YOUR MORTGAGE OFFER The compromis states that you have a set number of days to get all the documentation required to your bank in order to request a mortgage (usually maximum 10 days) – they’ll also need a copy of the compromis. Your bank has 30-45 days to issue a mortgae offer in writing otherwise your compromis can be void and the owner can put the property back on the market.If your mortgage offer is refused, you will need to send the refusal to your agent and your notaire will refund your deposit.

7 – ACCEPT YOUR MORTGAGE OFFER Once your bank has let you know they have agreed the mortgage they will send a written offer. Once you receive this written offer you must wait ELEVEN days before sending it back with your acceptance and signature. Keep your agent informed along the way and they will set dates for the final signature (signature d’acte authentique) with all the parties. Do not book your flight until the notaire or agent gives the go-ahead on the date! If you can’t make it to France you can organise a power of attorney but this takes over a week to do.

 

8- RELEASE OF FUNDS Once the bank has your acceptance of the mortgage your notaire will organise for the remaining funds to be called from you. They will send you a final amount that you personally need to pay (the decompte finale) which includes their fees and any amount you did not require a mortgage for. The mortgage funds will be sent to the notaires account by the bank transfer and must be in place on the day of the signature

9 – FINAL SIGNATURE – This is the day that you finally become owner. We advise you do a final check of the property and then you will need to go to the notaire’s office unless you have organised power of attorney. The vendors will usually be there too and maybe a bank representative as well as your agent. The notaire will check that you have paid the full amount and take copies of your passport. He or she will also check that you have insurance in place for the property which your Attika agent can organise for you (contents insurance ). You will then read through the Acte and everyone will sign the contracts, diagnostics and plans and you’ll become the owner !

10 EXTRA COSTS – Unless you speak fluent French your notaire will usually insist that you have a sworn interpreter at the signing and this will be added to your notaire costs at around 300-500 euros depending on the language. You will also have to refund any charges and taxe fonciere that have been paid by the seller.

 

Other than that you just need to start enjoying your property! If you have bought a property to renovate, your Attika agent will be able to assist with teams to recommend who are highly skilled.