Getting your French property ready to sell
Intending to sell your property in France? Read our preparatory guide before putting it on the market
Thinking of selling your property in France? It pays to research the process in advance and to make sure that your home looks at its best. Do this before you call in the estate agents or advertise your property for sale and everything could progress faster and more smoothly.
Notaire and technical reports
Having been through the purchase procedure, you will probably know that it is necessary to use a French notaire when selling your property. So, early on in the process you should find a recommended local notaire who speaks English to the level that you need. The notaire acts for the government and is not biased towards seller or buyer.
In France, the seller is responsible for providing various technical reports and certificates (dossier de diagnostiques techniques) to the purchaser, according to the requirements of the region. This gives a prospective buyer clear information on the property and can save uncertainty later on. Obtaining the reports will be one of your first jobs and the mairie or an estate agent can advise on what you need and which local companies to use.
The technical reports will include the following, as appropriate to local regulations and the age of the property: termites, asbestos, lead, gas and electricity, major natural and man-made risks, energy performance, and sewage disposal arrangements.
Tax and financial obligations
If the property is your main residence then you are exempt from capital gains tax (plus-value) on the sale. The simple rule is that you should be resident in the property at the time of sale, which means when the initial contract or compromis de vente is signed. If the property is not your main home when you sell it, then a tax in the form of plus-value may be payable.
Certain expenditure for work carried out to your property can be claimed against tax when you sell. For this reason, it is always important to keep bills and receipts for work done by craftsmen and building companies.
If you fitted a brand-new kitchen or bathroom yourself, for example, you could claim for the cost of the materials. So now’s the time to find all those old receipts. You may also be able to claim for the cost of reports and any agent’s fees paid when you bought the property.
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Take receipts to the notaire and ask for advice on what you could claim. You should also research how much tax you might have to pay, so that you understand at the outset what is likely to be left from any sale return. This may affect the selling price you set. Tax obligations have regional variations, so first ask the mairie, then the notaire.
Preparing the house
Ideally, when carrying out any work to a property you should keep in mind that you may want to sell it one day. Therefore it pays to consider whether your plans for improvement would enhance the house’s broad appeal to potential buyers.
Look around and see what physical preparation the house might need, such as painting, decorating and mending. It is always worth making the house exterior and interior look fresh and smart with a lick of paint. Also, mend that broken gutter or drain, fix the front door that sticks and get rid of that damp patch.
Potential buyers want to be able to imagine themselves at home in the house, so unless it’s an obvious renovation project then aim to make it look ready to move into. Decluttering is vital. Minimise personal ornaments, make sure that the kitchen and bathroom are immaculate and remove furniture that makes rooms look overcrowded.
Keep the house aired if you don’t live in it or use it regularly, and avoid making it seem dark, closed or unwelcoming by keeping shutters and curtains open.
Marketing the property
If you use a local estate agent, you may need to choose more than one in order to cover areas where potential buyers live or visit – holidaymakers are a market worth tapping into. Remember that the agent’s fees are usually paid by the buyer.
If you choose to advertise online, good quality images are essential, especially the main photograph that shows as a thumbnail in search results. This really needs to appeal instantly to a potential buyer. Think of it as telling the story of your property in pictures, so make sure that the photos are clear and pleasing to the eye.
Your advert should also be comprehensive with information and advice about the local area, such as details of the close major towns. Give the potential buyer a feel for what it’s like to live or holiday in the house, how to get there and where they can go for daytrips or a weekend away.
It pays to be prepared in advance with information for two different types of buyer – those who will use the property as a permanent residence or private holiday home, and those who plan to set up holiday lets. For the latter, you will need to put together a purchaser information pack.
If you haven’t been offering holiday lets then look at your property in terms of its possible appeal to holidaymakers, and put together as much information as you can about the potential experience for both the owner and holidaymaker.
If you have already been letting, you should provide details of the costs incurred and income generated from doing so, as well as where you have been advertising and the profile of guests. This would include how many weeks have been let, the length of season, the level of return visits and any advance bookings. You could also provide contact details for any local people offering caretaking and maintenance services.
Some buyers may want to let the property for just a few weeks, while others may want occupation for as much of the year as possible. Give accurate information about your own approach and business results and trust that any buyer looking to let will see the potential for their own plans.
Glynis Shaw is joint managing director of French Connections holiday rentals and property sales
Tel: 01580 819303
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