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Questions and Answers

For customers
Questions on buying real estate in France
Can a foreigner buy real estate in France?
Yes, there are no restrictions on foreigners buying commercial or residential property in France. They become full owners of their property.
How to buy a property on the French Riviera?

The buying process involves a few steps: choose a property, visit it, make a price offer, sign a promise deed, pay immobilization indemnity equal to 5-10% of the sale price, wait for the notary to check the transaction cleanliness, pay the rest of the amount, sign a sale deed and get the keys of your new house. The transaction is carried out by the notary and takes 2-3 months. Our agency assists you through the entire buying process.

Learn more about how to buy a property in France

How to obtain a French residence permit?

There are several options for visas and long-term residence permits in France. Depending on your situation the immigration requirements may differ.

All the information you need to know about residence permits and visas

Is it possible to get a French loan to buy a property without being a French resident?
Yes, it is possible. When investing in property in France as a non-resident, the bank will evaluate your income resources and financing capability, will take into account your marital status and number of children in charge, as well as other loans existence. Being a citizen of another EU country will help you get a loan.
What is "closed sales," "off-market," Private listing?
In France, many owners of luxury properties do not want to put their properties in the public domain for advertising and trust one or more agencies ONLY on a confidential basis. Such properties are called «off-market». Want to get information on properties that you can’t find on the web? Leave a request and a member of our staff will contact you to introduce you to off-market properties.
What is the process of buying a property in France?

Step-by-step guide to the homebuying process :

  1. Select properties and ask to organise viewing
  2. Visit selected properties and choose a home to buy
  3. Have the house inspected and ask for energy performance rating
  4. Make an offer. Present it to the seller and reach agreement on the price.
  5. Sign a promise deed – Compromis de vente 
  6. Make a down payment of 5-10% of the sale price
  7. Consider your financial options, ask for mortgage
  8. Wait for the notary to check the transaction cleanliness
  9. Pay a 100 % of the amount
  10. Sign a sale deed and get the keys to your new home
  11. Get legal documents, registered in the French Land Registry, from the notary
  12. Register utilities and insurance policies of your new home in your name

Learn more about the buying process

What criteria should I look for in a house to resell it easily?
First, the location. The closer it is to the sea - the easier it is to resell. Sea view is one of the most important criteria. Preferably south, south-east, south-west facing. Safe neighborhood and close to public transportation. Year of construction and quality of finishes and amenities. Average annual maintenance cost. The best resale neighborhoods are : Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Cap d’Antibes, Cannes Croisette, Nice Promenade des Anglais, as well as Monaco neighborhoods : Beaulieu, Eze, Cap d'Ail, Roquebrune-Cap-Martin.
Is it acceptable to haggle over a property price?
Yes, it is. Haggling the price is quite common in real estate negotiations. Usually, your real estate agent knows the buyer's real reasons of sale decision. It's often possible to start negotiating while viewing the property. Your real estate professional will help you draft the Offre d’achat and negotiate on your behalf with the seller. The seller can accept your offer or make a counteroffer until a common price is set.
What is the DPE real estate diagnosis in France?

The DPE is a real estate diagnosis that is mandatory for all properties for sale. The seller must be able to provide it before signing a purchase agreement - Compromis de vente. The DPE makes it possible to know the energy consumption and CO2 emissions of the property and includes the following data:

  • Floor area (Loi Carrez) — for apartments.
  • Technical diagnoses (lead, asbestos, termites, etc.).
  • Electrical and gas installations.
  • Heat loss, insulation performance, renewable energy production systems, if any.
  • Risk of seismic movement or other natural disaster.
  • Septic tank installation – for houses.
Is it possible to buy real estate in France remotely?
Yes, it is possible. Our company in cooperation with notary’s office and online tools allows you to carry out the transaction from A to Z remotely. However, in order to choose the best option, we strongly recommend personal appearances and live visits.
How do I pay for my real estate purchase?
All financial transactions for the purchase of real estate in France take place by bank transfer and go through the account-sequester of the notary.
At the time of signing the preliminary contract, a deposit of 5-10% of the value of the property must be transferred to the account of the notary. By the time the Deed of Sale is signed, the Buyer must remit the remainder, plus notary fees.
At what point does the Buyer acquire ownership rights?
When the Act of Sale (Acte de Vente) is signed, the Buyer receives the keys and the Attestation (Attestation) confirming the transaction. Within a few days, the Agent will transfer the utilities and the property purchased will be registered in the name of the new owner at the Conservation des hypothèques (Mortgage Office) by a notary. The registration period is 3-4 months, after which the Buyer receives the original certificate of ownership (Titre de propriété).
How much does your agency charge for a personalized property search?
Free of charge. Agency fee is paid by the Seller. If you haven't found a home that meets your criteria in our listings, contact us! Thanks to our network of real estate partners, we'll find the best home for you. All real estate agents in France work together and share their listings as well as their commission on sales. Thus, the buyer is free of commission charges and the seller pays the same commission amount regardless of the number of agents involved in the transaction.
For retailers
Popular questions about selling property in France
What documents are required when selling real estate in France?

Your sales file must include the following mandatory documents:

  • Seller's ID or passport
  • Title deed
  • Technical diagnostics (Dossier de Diagnostique Technique)
  • Mortgage details, if any
What are the mandatory diagnostics in sale process?

When it comes to selling a property in France, it is necessary to carry out some property surveys and diagnostic reports:

  • Carrez law diagnostic - for apartments.
  • Asbestos, lead, termites, insect inspection.
  • Gas and electrical inspection.
  • Thermal insulation inspection.
  • Wastewater inspection - for houses.
  • Natural & ecological risk inspection.

Make sure that you have valid property surveys and diagnostic reports, because their duration may vary. Some of them have unlimited validity, while others are valid from 6 months to 10 years.

How much does it cost to carry out a DPE?

The DPE - Diagnostic de Performance Energétique, is mandatory since 2006 and must be carried out by a COFRAC ( Comité d’accreditation français ) certified professional. The price of a DPE survey on the French Riviera varies from 300 € to 600 € depending on property type (house or apartment, its living area).

What are seller's fees when selling a property in France?

When selling your real estate in France, you may have to pay certain costs associated with the sale:

  • Cost of DPE - Energy Performance Diagnosis.
  • Transfer fees to the Syndic for the sale in co-ownership.
  • Agency fees if it helps you to sell.
  • Anticipated mortgage repayment, if any.
  • Capital gains tax, if it is your secondary residence. The capital gain is the difference between the purchase price and the sale price.

Learn more about capital gains tax

Can a seller cancel a sale after signing a promise deed?
Once the preliminary sale agreement has been signed, the seller cannot withdraw his decision, while the buyer is entitled to a ten-day cooling off period.
If the buyer has a notary public, can the seller get his own notary public?
The sale-purchase transaction may be executed by one notary (from the buyer’s or the seller’s side), or by two notaries (each side has its own notary). This does not affect the cost of registration.
How to properly prepare a property for viewing and increase the chances of success?

The main secret of pre-sale preparation is to allow the buyer, from the first step into the house, to feel comfortable, as if they were at home. To do this, you need to create a "Visual Effect".

Preparing to sell:

  • Free up space, remove everything superfluous, put things in order. Introduce neutrality and remove anything that adds character: personal items, photos, souvenirs.
  • Make minor repairs and eliminate visible deficiencies, if necessary, refresh the color of the walls.
  • Create a sense of spaciousness through lots of light and light colors.

Before the visit:

  • Choose a favorable time, according to the light and also according to the weather.
  • Damp-clean before the agent’s or buyer’s visit and ventilate well.
  • Little tricks for good associations: fresh flowers in vases, a pleasant smell (an open can of coffee or the smell of baked goods or vanilla), friendliness and a smile on faces.
What types of mandates exist?

Examples of the most common sales mandates:

  • SIMPLE. This mandate allows the owner to sell either on their own or through one or more agencies. Only the agency that found a buyer receives the commission. Simple mandate does not guarantee the agency receives a commission and the resource for the advertising campaign will be organic. As a result, the property will be on the market longer.
  • EXCLUSIVE: This mandate gives the exclusive right to sell to one agency. This allows the agency to prioritize the commercialization of the home and the maximum company advertising resource will be used for the sale, allowing your home to be at the top of the Internet sales platforms. The agency with the exclusive right to sell communicates with other partner agencies, giving them the right to sell and in the case of a sale share their fees.
  • EXCLUSIVE: A variant of the exclusive mandate with the right of sale, which is shared between two agencies or between the agency and the seller. In this case, the amount of commission and the terms of commission distribution are negotiated individually and specified in the mandate. This mandate increases the probability that the agency receives the commission and, in contrast to the simple mandate, allows you to increase the resource for advertising.
How to choose a real estate agency in France? What to pay attention to?

The first thing to look for is a professional «T» card. In France, the activity of a real estate agent is strictly regulated.

The second — is the knowledge of the market and the availability of a large client base, which are built up over the years and serve as one of the sources in the search for potential clients.

Check with the agency, where will be advertised your property. Does the agency participates in international exhibitions and what marketing tools it uses.

Can the buyer cancel the preliminary contract and get out of the deal?
To sign the preliminary agreement, the Buyer must pay a deposit of 5-10% of the purchase amount to the notary’s account. After signing, the Buyer has a 10 day reflection period, called "Droit de retractation"within the transaction can be withdrawn without losing the deposit. At the expiry of this period, the Buyer who withdraws from the purchase without good reason will forfeit the deposit.
Taxes in France
We have collected for you the answers to the most popular questions
What are French taxes?

There are several taxes in France: income tax, local residence tax, property tax, inheritance tax and wealth tax applicable to real estate assets. Capital gain tax on the sale of buildings, land and shares. Notary fees of 7-8 % are added to the purchase price of an old property, against 2-3% when buying in new building not older than 5 years. If you’re running your own company, you may be entitled to a 25% corporate tax. Do not hesitate to ask our specialists for an advice on your individual tax situation.

More information about taxes in France

What are the property taxes in France?

At the time of purchase, one-time tax: Pay registration fees of about 7-8% of the property value for secondary market properties or 2-3% for new buildings no older than 5 years.

In the course of use:

  • Tax on possession -Taxe foncière. 
  • Taxe d’habitation -Taxe d’habitation (French residents are exempt from this tax). 
  •  IFI tax — only if the entire property of one owner (or one family depending on the marriage contract) in France exceeds the value of €1.3 million. The amount of tax is calculated on a progressive scale depending on the value of the property and ranges from 0.5% to 1.5%.

Quick calculations with the calculator

Maintenance, renovation and construction
Popular questions about building and renovating in France
Construction Permit (Permis de construire, PC)

A building permit (Permis de construire) is the main instrument of town planning control and is issued in two cases:

  • for the construction of a single house and/or annexes (Permis de construire maison et/ou ses annexes);
  • for general construction (Permis de construire général). 
Note: In France, it is customary to include all items of the project in the original application and to use the amendment application only for modifications to the original project. You should not apply for a «building permit» (permis de construire) for most, but not all, work in the hope that the rest will be added as amendments — it probably won’t work.

Architects and building permits

Only an architect has the authority to apply for a building permit. By law, the application for a building permit (Permis de construire) can only be considered after a qualified licensed architect has approved the architectural design, i.e., the preparation of a set of documents including a written description of the scope of work, the location of the objects and the choice of materials, as well as a site plan and sectional drawings (internal side view and vertical cross-section of the building).

Note: According to Article L421-2 of the Town Planning Code, the exception is an application for a building permit for a detached detached house, provided that on completion its total usable area does not exceed 170 square meters. The exception applies only to private owners; for all commercial and other projects that require a building permit, regardless of the size of the property, an architect must be involved.

Permit to construct a dwelling house and/or annexes (Permis de construire maison et/ou ses annexes)

The Permis de construire maison et/ou ses annexes application form takes into account the possibility that the applicant’s principal place of residence is outside France and allows for the exchange of all correspondence with the architect or a third party in place of the applicant.

The application form includes separate boxes for swimming pools, garages, greenhouses and garden sheds, as well as a section on the demolition of existing structures, so that a separate demolition permit does not need to be filed, and also provides the possibility of sending correspondence to both the prospective buyer and the neighbors if additional work affects their plot.

Correspondence with the Department of City Planning is currently allowed via email and the submission of PDF drawings.

Providing the architect’s contact information and license numbers along with the architect’s signature is required. Severe penalties apply to architects who sign someone else’s drawings: the architect’s license is revoked for three months, the client’s permit is revoked, and a fine is imposed on the author of the drawings who received payment for them.

Board of Architecture, Urban Planning and Environmental Protection

When applying for a building permit on your own, you must contact the local branch of the Conseil d’Architecture, d’Urbanisme et d’Environnement (CAUE) before submitting it to obtain advice on the architectural content of the project. There is a box on the application to confirm this request; the review of the project may be delayed if no recommendation has been received.

What work requires a «Permit to Construct a House and/or Additions»

Extension of a building by building more than 20 square meters of floor area (surface hors œuvre brut, SHOB). Works to change the load-bearing structures/walls or façade of a building while changing the purpose of an ancillary room of the building without changing the purpose of the building itself. Work to change the volume of a building or to create new or enlarge existing openings in exterior walls. Construction of swimming pools less than 1.8 m in depth and over 100 square meters in area. All swimming pools with a depth of more than 1.8 m. 

An approximate list of required documents:

  • A site plan at a scale of 1:5000 or 1:10000 showing the location of the site in the county.
  • A cadastral plan at a scale of 1:2000/ 1000.
  • An urban plan of existing or proposed facilities at a scale of 1:500.
  • Floor plan of the existing building at a scale of 1:100 (if applicable).
  • Drawings of all facades of the existing building (if applicable) showing the spatial dimensions of windows and doors at a scale of 1:100.
  • Drawings of all cross-sections of the existing building (if applicable) at a scale of 1:100.
  • Floor plan of the projected building at a scale of 1:100 with spatial dimensions.
  • Drawings of reamers of all facades of the designed building with indication of spatial dimensions of windows and doors in scale 1:100 and indication of materials.
  • Drawings of cuts in scale 1:100.
  • Drawings of 1:200 scale sectional drawings indicating levels of projected modifications to the facility.
  • Two photographs of the existing facility and/or a photomontage/visual simulation of the projected facility.
  • An explanatory note on the impact of the project on landscape integrity.
  • Combined design drawings of key points including access road, landscaping, and plantings.
  • A written note explaining the visual effect of the project on the surrounding area, which should include:
  • The functional zoning of the entire site.
  • The surrounding off-site area (houses, streets, landscaping).
  • Existing building and landscaping within the site, including hedges, garden plantings, and existing materials.
  • A description of the architectural concept of the project, including materials and colors (there are no longer separate boxes on the application for this information). The consultation with an architect from the local Conseil d’Architecture, d’Urbanisme et d’Environnement (CAUE) should always be mentioned in this box.

Permit to develop the site (Permis d'aménager, PA)

The Permis d’Aménager, PA (Permis d’Aménager, PA) application form covers applications for campsites/trailer parks, sports fields and recreation areas, and common areas, including public parking lots and parks.

What work requires a «Site Development Permit»

  • Construction of roads and/or common areas on two or more delineated lots.
  • Construction of roads and/or common areas.
  • Development or expansion of a campground for 20 or more persons or 6 or more tents, trailers, or mobile homes.
  • Construction or expansion of camping complexes based on wooden camping cabins and mobile homes. 
  • The construction or extension of auto-tourist complexes.
  • Development of sports stadiums, carting tracks.
  • An amusement park of more than 2 hectares.
  • Golf courses of more than 25 hectares.
  • Arrangement of public parking lots with at least 50 parking slots

The town planning code and the law on the environment in France

Most of the projects mentioned above must meet not only the requirements of the Town Planning Code (Code de l’Urbanisme) but also those of the Environmental Code (Code de l’Environnement). Moreover, many projects require various assessments and surveys in order to obtain a «Site Development Permit».

For example, a golf course will require an environmental impact assessment (EU directive) and possibly, under the environmental law, an application for deforestation (défrichement), an opinion under water law (loisur l’eau), and many other documents submitted along with an application for a «Permit to develop a site» (Permis d’aménager).For any project involving a change of use of a land, you must first consult an architect and/or a Design Bureau (Bureau des etu.

Permit for general construction work

The basic package of documents for a general building permit (Permis de construire général) is identical to that required for a building permit for a house and/or annexes (Permis de construire maison et/ou ses annexes). However, it is likely that additional documentation may be required, which cannot be listed here due to its great dependence on the type of building. Documents can only be submitted by a licensed architect — it is advisable to contact the architect in advance for specific details on each non-residential construction issue.

Application Filing:

  • 4 copies of the application package, application, additional copies and/or additional surveys. 
  • Response to the application is within 3 months.

Application to amend a valid building permit (Modification d'un permis délivré en cours de validité)

Application for Amendment of a Valid Building Permit (Permis délivré en cours de validité)If, after obtaining a building permit, it becomes necessary to change any aspect of the project during the course of the work on the site, a corrective application (Permis modificatif) for an amendment to a valid building permit (Permis délivré en cours de validité) must be submitted. This permit is required when there is a change in the design number of windows, living space, or an increase in the scope of the project. It is not advisable to start work before obtaining the official approval of the «Permis modificatif», because if it is rejected, you will have to go back to the original project and remove all the modifications already carried out, even if this means demolishing them. The «Adjustment Application» form (Permis modificatif) applies to the Building Permit (permis de construire), the Building Permit for a detached house and/or annexes (permis de construire maison et/ou ses annexes) and the Site Development Permit (permis d’aménager) with mandatory approval of any changes made during the design or construction phase, until final acceptance of the construction work and declaration of completion in accordance with the permit.

Application:

  • 4 copies of the package of documents + application to be submitted to the City Hall.

Review of application:

  • 2 months — Permit to construct a residential house (Permis de construire maison);
  • 3 months — Building Permit (Permis de construire) or Settlement Permit (Permis de construire or Permis d’aménager).
Property management
Popular questions about managing your real estate in France
What is property management?

Real estate management is the activity of maintaining and improving the condition of the property and its utilities, successfully resolving issues in the interest of the owner.

The main objectives of property management: the excellent functioning of the object, reducing maintenance costs and increasing profits from its use.

With 17 years of experience in the French real estate market, ServiceAzur has built a dedicated property management team with Russian-speaking professionals to better meet your needs once you buy.

The main objectives of property management: to maintain the successful functioning of the house and ensure the comfort of the owner.

How to reduce property maintenance costs?

The desire of every owner is to reduce maintenance costs and to preserve and improve the condition of real estate. The path to achieving the above objectives consists of a series of stages in the organization of economic management, which is a constant analysis and improvement of the structure of income and expenses directly related to the use and maintenance of real estate.

The advantage of ServiceAzur’s professional approach to property management in France is that the work is carried out in a comprehensive and continuous manner, allowing you to minimize costs and increase profits by using the property in a truly efficient and profitable way!

Our professional approach includes comprehensive administrative consulting: legal, accounting, office and concierge services. We prepare annual financial statements and help individuals and businesses fill out tax returns.

The taxation system in France

The legal part of the management contract includes annual assistance with tax returns and taxes such as:

  • Taxe Foncière — tax on ownership.
  • Impôt sur revenu — tax on income.
  • Taxe d’Habitation — tax on residence.
  • IFI — tax on immovable property.
  • Taxe 3%.
  • Déclaration 2072.

For those who want to optimize their taxation, we help them correctly allocate and combine their real estate rights, mainly through the registration of a civil society for real estate (SCI — Société Civile Immobilierère).

In turn, the SCI requires an annual financial statement. The owner is provided with a table with expenditures by groups formed during the operation of the real estate and periods for easy control of funds.

Why do you need a monitoring visit to the property?

As a rule, we make pre-planned and coordinated visits with the owner to regularly check the condition of the property, diagnose utilities and observe safety measures. We follow the work of the staff and monitor the performance of the work (gardener, pool specialist, cleaners, other services), take pictures and send clients a report on the condition of their property.

By keeping in constant contact with utilities and contractors, we keep them «up to date» so that they continue to meet their obligations.

What is included in the administrative and technical part of the contract?

Administrative (technical) management is the whole complex of works aimed at maintaining the state of both the object itself and all communications that ensure its full functional state.

The office part is very labor-intensive, for example, we maintain regular communication between the various instances and subjects of the process, such as:

  • utility structures (electricity, gas, water, sewage); 
  • communication services (telephone, internet, television);
  • garden and pool maintenance staff, maids, drivers; 
  • security services (alarm, video surveillance, security); 
  • insurance instances (real estate, transportation, health);
  • construction organizations (architects, designers, geometers).

Our department constantly monitors the correspondence, deals with the translation of documents, the drawing up of contracts, approving and paying invoices, etc. All received documents are studied, classified and archived. Each item worked out becomes a subject of reporting to the owner.

Property insurance in France

As a new property owner in France, the first thing you need to do is to insure your property, which will give you peace of mind and protect your property from unexpected damage.

The insurance market in France is one of the most diverse in the European Union and often for non-resident owners, choosing an insurance company becomes a difficult process. Moreover, it is important that the contract with the insurance company is clear and understandable for the insured person. The contract should also clearly state the guarantee clauses, such as the deductible amount, general conditions and terms for payment of damages.

That is why our management team, working with the most reliable and trusted partners, will be able to help you choose the right insurance policy for you with the most optimal conditions.

And if necessary (in the event of an insured event), we will accompany you and help you declare the accident to the insurance company in order to receive quick and effective compensation for damage.

Ensuring the safety of your property on the Cote d'Azur

We know how important the security of your property is. This issue becomes especially relevant for those who have real estate on the French Riviera as a summer residence.

We always advise our clients to secure their property for their complete comfort. That’s why our security partners offer the most advanced and most reliable security alarm solutions, tailored to the individual needs of each client.

If your property is in our management, you can fully rely on the professionalism of our staff. Our managers carry out control visits, during which the general condition of the residence is checked, the number of such visits depends on the formula you have chosen.

What is a concierge service?

Our concierge services are your reliable personal assistant!

In addition to servicing the property itself, we try to make the life of our owners on the Cote d’Azur as comfortable as possible and contribute to this as much as possible.

Searching for any information, for example, about the rental of transport (yacht, helicopter, car) or accommodation, medical services, shopping tours, transfers, excursions, booking restaurants, hotels, various tickets, with the help of a professional, will provide you with an efficient and reliable result.

The specifics of working with Russian-speaking clients

Our company has a team of professional managers. We speak Russian and know the specifics of working with Russian-speaking clients. From our personal experience, we know how difficult it is at first to understand all the legal aspects, being in another country and not knowing a foreign language, not understanding the intricacies of the taxation system or the nuances due to the difference in mentality.

Thanks to our Russian-speaking staff, you can count on competent assistance in the services provided by our company.