Ensure you’ve checked these vital elements before you buy in France
Written by Lindsay Kinnealy, head of international property at Slater and Gordon
1. What you are buying
What’s included? Where are the precise boundaries? To whom do they belong? Who is responsible for maintaining them? Do the boundaries match the land registry (cadastral) plan? Has a land surveyor drawn up a plan de bornage (boundary plan) providing an accurate plan? Are there any disputes or areas over which you suspect a problem might arise, for example joint access? Is it a listed building or in the vicinity of a historical monument which might restrict what you can do with your property?
2. Physical condition
Is it structurally sound? What is the likely cost of repair, renovation or restoration? Is it energy efficient already? Have the property inspected by a professional and obtain cost estimates to ensure you can afford the work as well as the purchase price and fees. Has any work been carried out in the last 10 years? Is a guarantee provided? Did the work require and receive planning consent or a prior permission of any kind?
Read more about planning permission laws here.
3. Access and location
Is access direct to the house from a public highway or via someone else’s property? Are there any maintenance access issues for wall repairs, pipes, cables etc? Are there any rights of way or easements (third-party rights)? Are there any developments in the area that might cause nuisance of any kind? Are there any development plans for the area? Is any open land around your property building land, and could a beautiful view be ruined by a new housing development? You can visit your mairie to view plans and discuss with the staff there, as well as asking questions of other locals. Is it too isolated or isolated enough? Is there any public transport, and how close will you be to shops or a hospital?
Is the property connected to the mains drainage system? Is there a septic tank that meets current norms? These could involve considerable additional costs if work is required. Is there an energy supply already connected? Does the area have wifi/broadband? This could be particularly important if you need to work from home.
Consider how you will buy/hold the title to the property. Discuss this with your UK French property specialist/legal advisor who will take both UK and French positions into account.
How will you pay for this? The legal fees/taxes on top of the purchase price considerably increase your expenditure. If the property needs work as well, it could be out of your price range. Do you need and can you service a loan to finance the purchase, fees and work?
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