20 years of FPN - Top 20 tips

To celebrate our 20th anniversary, here is some essential advice on French Property from our associated experts...

Top 5 buying tips...

1 - Do your research and identify the area that interests you. For example, it’s no use just saying south-west France as this covers the beaches of Biarritz, the vineyards of Bordeaux, skiing in the Pyr�n�es and the industrial areas around Toulouse. France is a huge country and you must hone in on the area that suits you.

2 - Scour the market. Some of the best agents are the small back street’ ones that don’t publicise themselves as widely. Make sure you visit these as well as the big ones fronting the main square’. Similarly, many notaires carry property for sale and – for the brave – there are plenty of sites and local papers advertising private sales.

3 - To get the most out of agents, be honest with them. Think through your requirements thoroughly, including your maximum budget. Give them feedback on the houses they show you and don’t break appointments without letting them know in advance. Give them a decent brief and you’ll save plenty of wasted time.

4 - Exploit the address books of the local agents. Whether it’s to find an RICS qualified surveyor to look at the house or an efficient, English-speaking notaire. Most agents will be a mine of information and are usually only too pleased to help point you in the right direction.

5 - Mandate a property finder to undertake the search for you. They will be well placed to fully cover the market, so make the most of their experience and local knowledge. You can rest easy knowing that they will be receiving no fees from the seller or their agent and will be acting exclusively for you.

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The property tips provided by Sarl FrenchEntr�e Property Finder Services Tel: 0033 (0)5 45 32 46 41Top 5 mobile home tips...

1 - Priorities: You need to have a good idea of what you want to buy and what your limitations are. Keep your budget in mind when assessing the parks you arrange to visit. There may have to be some compromises down the line.

2 - Location: Choose an area that gets enough sunshine and has good access to airports, ferry ports and public transport. Does the surrounding area suit your lifestyle, i.e. mountains, beaches or close to towns/cities for evening entertainment?

3 - Campsite: Most sites are open from April until October but a few open all year round. What style of site will suit you and your family? Large and lively with good facilities for the kids, a quiet rural campsite with good views or something in-between?

4 - Mobile home: Holiday homes have become more and more luxurious over the last 10 years. Most now come equipped with fully fitted kitchens, quality furnishings, double-glazing and heating throughout. Your first decision is whether to choose British or European manufacturers. British units are generally built for residential purposes so are furnished to a higher standard, while European units are designed more for holidays and are perfect if you plan to sub-let.

5 - Extra costs: Finally, you’ve made your choice and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line. Have you taken all the costs into consideration, i.e. transport, installation, annual site fees, site entry fee, taxe s�jour, maintenance costs etc? Will you be penalised if you wish to leave? Is there a maximum time your mobile can stay on the campsite?

The mobile home tips provided by Canvas Holiday Homes Tel: 01383 613313 www.canvasholidayhomes.comTop 5 part-exchange tips

1 - Make sure you take legal fees into account when deciding what value to accept for your property. Property taxes vary from country to country, so make sure you investigate the full costs involved. A list of legal representatives to help you do this can be found in the services section of our website.

2 - It is always advisable to have a full structural survey carried out to highlight any potential issues with the property you are hoping to swap for your own. Even though you are swapping, rather than buying and selling in the normal way, you still need to be aware of any problems.

3 - Have your property valued by an estate agent to give you a realistic idea of your budget. Similarly, research the value of any property you are interested in to ensure that the vendor’s valuation is appropriate.

4 - When advertising your property for a part exchange, try to include as many details and photographs as you can to maximise interest in your property and to pre-empt any questions that a potential house swap candidate may have. Think of what you would want to know about a potential property and try to answer these questions in the description you provide for your own.

5 - If you are approached to part exchange through an estate agent who claims to have found an ideal candidate for a swap, find out whether you would be liable for any of their fees if you decided to go ahead. It is also worth remembering that the price of the house you wish to exchange with may be considerably higher than its actual value to cover these agency fees.

The property tips provided by Katrina Riley Tel: 0033 (0)6 81 50 16 84 www.the-part-exchange.comTop 5 taxation tips...

1 - In the French system, the onus is on the taxpayer to submit the correct returns and failure to do so can be a costly mistake. The French authorities can charge penalties of 10%, 40% or 80%, depending on the circumstances for late or incorrect returns, plus interest of 0.40% per month.

2 - As a French resident, you should file an annual French income tax return and include any UK income received. Whether this income will actually suffer French taxation will depend on the relevant article of the France-UK double-tax treaty.

3 - An assurance-vie can be a useful investment tool for reducing French income tax liabilities. The longer the policy is held before funds are withdrawn, the more beneficial it is. This product also has inheritance tax advantages. Other French taxefficient investments include the Livret A account and the Plan d’Epargne en Actions.

4 - French capital gains tax on investments is capped at 18% (plus 12.1% social surcharges) and is only applicable if the total proceeds in the tax year exceed €25,730 (2009). Any net taxable gain could be reduced by realising losscarrying investments before the end of the tax year. Losses can be carried forward for 10 years, so could reduce any future CGT exposure too.

5 - For those that fit the criteria, the LMP status (Loueur en meubl� professionnel – professional landlord) has several advantages, including (i) losses being netted off against other income in the same year, with excess losses carried forward for up to six years, (ii) French CGT exemption on the sale of a property let for five years or more, if the turnover meets certain conditions, and (iii) French wealth tax exemption under certain conditions.

The tax tips provided by www.labellevieguernsey.co.uk Tel: 01481 710093 kate@labellevieguernsey.co.uk