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Buying a plot of land in France

Buying a plot of land in France

The dream for many property investors in France is to build their own house. Firstly, to make it come true, it is necessary to purchase building land.

There are two options for buying land: the purchase of an isolated plot of land or the purchase of a plot of building land (lot) on a plot of land for building dwellings (lotissement). Buying a site of land on a plot of building land allows avoiding lots of problems, since the area of ​​the plots has already been determined and the possibility of providing utilities and house construction are guaranteed.

At the same time, the buyer should comply with all architectural standards, adhere to the charter of the housing cooperative, and maintain the garden and the outbuildings. The owner should also follow these rules in case he separates and sells parts of land on which his property is located.

The acquisition of an isolated land plot gives the buyer more freedom of action, but it assumes more administrative formalities and financial investments.

On the French Riviera not all the land is subject to construction, it is possible to specify the possibility of construction and understand the evolution of the territories surrounding the site according to the local urban plan, PLU (Plan Local de l'Urbanisme).

The building area in France can not be arbitrary, each plot has its own COS (Coefficient d'Occupation des Sols), which defines the residential area in the total surface area (SHON (m²), Surface Hors-Oeuvre Nette). So, for example, when COS equals to 0.5 and the area of ​​a plot is 1000 m²; it has an allowance to build a living space (SHON) of 500 m².

Before buying a plot of land it is necessary to understand the nature of the soil if it is suitable for future construction and carry out soil tests. The plot must be stable and should not be flooded, nor contain careers or tunnels.

In doubtful cases of boundary determination of the site, the expert, surveyor may carry out repeated demarcation. The exact boundaries of the site are indicated by the mayor's office in the certificate of urbanism issued on the request of the buyer.

The purchasing process of a property plot of land is the same for any other type of property. The first stage is to sign the sale and purchase agreement (Compromis de vente). This preliminary agreement should necessarily indicate the built-up area of the plot as well as the terms without which the sale can not be carried out: the buyer should obtain a planning consent, a certificate of urbanism and if necessary, a consent to grant a loan. It is better not to sign a construction contract before taking ownership of the land. When signing a preliminary sales and purchase agreement, a deposit that can reach 10% of the selling price is transferred to the seller.

The final notarial sales and purchase deed should contain the following information: the totality of expenses and taxes, the exact description of the plot, possible servitudes, etc. Notarial expenses are identical to expenses for a classic purchase and sale transaction; registration fees, which constitute 5.09% of the land value, as well as urban taxes are usually added to the notary expenses.

To request a detailed certificate of urbanism (certificat pré opérationnel or certificat détaillé), it is necessary to indicate the purpose of the construction and its surface area. This certificate confirms the possibility of implementing a construction project in the selected plot of building land.

A simplified or ordinary certificate (certificat ordinaire or simplifié) contains information of possible administrative restrictions in the ownership rights, local urban plans directly related to the specified plot of land, existing taxes and fees. It specifies rights and responsibilities associated with ownership of a plot of land.

For example, buying a property or a plot of land on the shoreline is subject to certain restrictions:
      • The distance from the buildings to the lower tide line should be at least 100 m.
      • The height of buildings and fences, the building materials used in the construction must comply with the standards of the local urban plan.
      • It is necessary to provide a freely accessible public space along the coastline at the water's edge: the coastal zone remains accessible for public, and the owner of the plot can not arrange a private beach on it.
The certificate of urbanism is issued free of charge and it is not a construction permission.
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