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Words you really NEED to know when buying property in France

So you’ve arrived in France with what you hope is a good level of French, but there are always words and expressions that you don’t pick up at school or University. For instance when you set up direct debits or payment plans in shops, you’ll always be asked for your RIB which stumped me when I arrived here. They’re not asking you to donate part of your anatomy but your Releve d’Identite Bancaire which is a small slip inside your cheque book with all your bank details on it. Ask your bank for a selection of them as you need them for lots of things !

The Attika agents have put our heads together for other words, expressions and acronyms that we come across on a daily basis and that you’ll NEED if you’re buying a property on the French Riviera

EDF – the electric board, or pretty much anything related to electricity is referred to as the EDF – j’ai un problème d’EDF dans mon appartement

Veolia – the water board


Le Syndic – the managing body of your apartment building in France. It is to the syndic that you will pay your

Charges (monthly payments covering buildings insurance, cleaning of the communal areas, upkeep etc)Pièces – You’ll see properties advertised as 2 pièces or 3 pièces etc (2P or 3P) and the pièces means rooms. So a 2P is a 2 room apartment, meaning a living room and a Bedroom, a 4 PIeces is a 4 room property, usually 1 living room and 3 bedrooms. A one room apartment is generally referred to as a studio, or an F1. You will sometimes see the the P of pieces is sometimes changed to an F1 F2 or F3 etc

Cuisine Americaine or Cuisine US – open plan kitchen. Agents will usually state if the kitchen is separate by writing Cuisine séparée.La Caution – deposit on an apartment (usually one that you’re renting)

SRU - this refers to many different things but when you’re buying an apartment and your estate agent talks about the Loi SRU they are referring to the 7 day period after you’ve received the compromis in the post, during which time you can pull out of the sale and have your deposit refunded – the system is very protective of you as the buyer in France. It is sometimes also referred to as the Délai de rétractation.

Marchand de Biens – you may hear your estate agent discussing properties that have been renovated by a Marchand de Biens – this is a property developer and they have to be registered as a business. If you buy a property from a registered Marchand, you have many guarantees such as guarantees of the structure and the plumbing. You pay more for a fully renovated property but the standards are very high.Promoteur – For the purposes of real estate, a promoter is the marketing and development company who manage a new build. In France you will see names such as Promogim, Kauffman + Broad, Nexity who are amongst the biggest promoteur in France. Attika offers New builds at Prix Promoteur which means that we offer new build developments at the same price as if you went direct to the promoter.

Carrez – When a property is sold in France it has to be measured by a professional. They do not take into account any areas of the property where the ceiling is lower than 1m80 and they also do not include areas around window frames, door frames etc. This means that a property with beams or a sloping room may be 45m habitable but as little as 30 Carrez which is why you will sometimes see 2 measurements. When you purchase a property you have a certificate showing its size. If you have it remeasured in the space of a year after buying and find a 5% difference you can be refunded per m2 the difference if the apartment is smaller. Villas which are not in a copropriete do not have to be measured.

Parties Communes – the communal areas in an apartment block or in a villa domain which belong to everyone.

Location – This is a false friend!! It means for rental, so if you see signs hanging off a property while walking around saying

LOCATION you are looking at a property for rent. What you need to look for are signs (panneaux) saying A VENDRE if you’re looking to buy!

Property for sale Nice

Traversant – We wish we could come up with a good translation for this and any help is appreciated! An apartment which is traversant means that it has windows on both sides, ie it looks both north and south or east and west – so perhaps the best translation would be an apartment with double exposition?? Whatever the best translation, it’s very much sought after in the South of France as not only does it mean you get maximum light but also in the hot summer you get a natural draught if you leave the windows open

Balcon/Terrasse – A balcony is usually much smaller than a terrasse. You will sometimes find little Juliette balconies which are tiny tiny balconies, but a normal balcony will usually permit a small bistrot table and stools or chairs. A terrasse however is often big enough to dine 4-6 people and a large terrasse, much harder to find down here and very expensive, will allow you the space for sun loungers and a table.

Diagnostiques – These are the equivalent of the survey that UK homes have. It is a collection of certificates upon sale of a property which show the size of the property (the Carrez measurent above), a certificate declaring absence of termites, lead, asbestos, an energy performance certificate, electrical conformity and gas conformity. Not all proerties need all the certificates and it’s very rare for a property to have a full clean bill of health (there’s nearly always lead in the paint on shutters and balconies of older buildings and the electrical norms change so regularly that there’s always a small anomaly.