Buying Property Abroad

Legal Aspects of Buying in France

The legal aspects of a property sale in France are handled by a notaire, who is often engaged by the vendor and will then act for both parties.

Therefore it is highly advisable to consult an independent solicitor who is a specialist in French property law and who can give you independent legal advice.

The legal formalities start at the contract stage. You should not sign any contract that binds you until it has been reviewed by your solicitor.

If you require bank or other finance to make the purchase, details of such finance should be inserted into the contract, so that the transaction will then be subject to you obtaining this loan.

At this time it is also important to decide how you buy ie. either in your own names, through a company, or whether husband and wife should change their Matrimonial Regime in France only. Such decisions can have far-reaching consequences further down the line due to the complexities of French inheritance tax.

Completion of your purchase takes place when the deed of sale is signed. Before this, complex matters of title planning law and searching against the property to see the Vendor’s mortgage position should be reviewed.

Finally once the purchase has taken place you should execute French Wills for the French property. Again this is linked with how you buy, as French Inheritance Law does not give you the same freedom as English Law. The amount of Inheritance tax payable is subject to who you designate as your heir. All of this can be carefully planned in advance to make sure your heirs are well provided for.

Your capital gains tax position should also be reviewed for when you eventually dispose of the property. Again independent legal advice should be sought on your sale.