Thursday, January 30, 2014

Increase in 'notaire costs' in P-O (dept 66)

The Conseil Genéral of Pyrénées-Orientales (department 66) have announced an increase in the cost of registering a property that is sold - the so-called Notaire fees which are charged as a percentage of the value of the property being conveyed and are paid by they buyer.

The percentage will rise from 3.8 to 4.5 per cent of the property's sale price, adding a further €700 euros on a €100 000 property, €1 400 on a €200 000 property and so on. The changes operate from 01 March and are described as 'temporary' and are planned to last for two years. The reason given for the rise in these charges is the high cost of social benefits paid out in this region, which is one of the poorest in France with unemployment at an above-average level - currently 17 per cent.

Buyers can take certain steps to reduce (slightly) the sale price on which the percentage charge is calculated, for example by separating out any furniture and fixtures included in the sale, as well as the fees payable to the estate agent handling the transaction. These would have to be agreed with the Notaire handling the transaction. Note also that furnishing sold have to be itemises with a value attached to each individual item and not claimed using a ballpark figure covering 'furniture and furnishings' which was normally allowable some ten years ago.


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Safety on French roads

Without wishing to sound alarmist I feel I should post a warning about the increasing numbers of attempted robberies and/or 'car-jacking' on roads in France, and those close to its borders - currently in particular the motorway from Barcelona to Le Perthus.

Some friends of mine were returning from Barcelona a few days ago when they heard a sharp,cracking sound as though their car had been hit by a rock or similar, and they were quickly overtaken by another car containing for men, signalling them to pull over as though there was some damage to their car.

Fortunately my friends had heard about incidents of this kind and continued to drive, ignoring the antics of the other vehicle, until they passed the next exit when the other car pulled off, no doubt to return later and seek another potential victim.

When they reached a service station they pulled in and parked close to the cafeteria and examined their car, which had been hit by something like a hammer or large piece of wood - it was this that had made the noise. When they told me their story, they said they had learnt from a retired British policeman in their village about these incidents and the advice he gave was

- never stop, continue driving until you reach a full service station (not a simple lay-by with no services), and park close to the shop or cafeteria where there are plenty of people.

- keep your doors and windows locked

- avoid stopping on lay-bys ('airs de repos') where you may see two or three cars parked but no services

- be particularly vigilant on motorways and main roads, cose to the border. For example, in Spain criminals will target British and French registered cars, assuming the driver is nervous about being in a foreign country and will assume it is a police check. It is not.

Incidents such as this are comparatively rare but alarming for those concerned. But try and stay calm, always be vigilant and - sadly - never trust a stranger.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Long term illness in France

If you have moved to France permanently, possibly to retire, one of your concerns may be what happens if you suffer a long term illness and what would be the conséquences of needing long term health care.

As a British retiree you should normally be entitled to a French health card, known as a Carte Vitale, which shows that you are registered with the French state health service and have been assigned a personal ID number. Once you have found and registered with a local doctor, you take the card when visiting the doctor and when purchasing prescriptions drugs or other treatments (X-ray, scan etc) prescribed by your doctor. Normally treatments and mediciens are reimbursed at the rate of 70% by the French state and you are responsible for paying the balance of 30%.

To pay for the balance you may decide to take out a top-up insurance policy, known as a 'mutuelle', for which you will pay a monthly premium. This may turn out to be expensive, and for this reason if no other, you need to know that certain long term illnesses are covered 100% by the French health system (as opposed to just 70%).

There is a published list of what are known as long term conditions ('affections long durée' or ALD) which are entitled to 100% cover , including heart conditions, liver, kidney and lung diseases - the list numbers some 30 conditions in total and is quite specific.

If you are concerned or in any doubt, you should consult your French doctor or specialist for advice, and it is he who will make an application for your illness to be classified as an 'ALD'. Each case is decided individually, the decision may be reversed or altered, and you have the right of appeal if you disagree.

For peace of mind, consult your French doctor as soon as possible. The French health service is generally efficient, fast acting and comprehensive - and you are entitled to benefit from it.

French Property News January 2014

In this month's issue I take a look at the pro's and cons of conducting your French property search  using a local French agency and the option of going it alone, whether you are buying of selling French property.

Among the advantages of using an established local French estate agency are of course their in-depth knowledge of the local market, a list of properties on their databse showing what is available and to help you compare prices, and the agent's experience and expertise in helping you select and buy the property of your choice. A lot of work has to be done by both the agent and the Notaire handling the sale, including prearing the pre- and final sales contract, ensuring the payment of a deposit and that the funds have been transfered by the buyer to the Notaire's secure account.

You may of course choose to go it alone if you feel have have sufficient knowledge of the French property market and the legal processes involved in buying and selling. Your knowledge of French should be sufficient to enable you to handle viewings by propsective purchasers or dealing with vendors, and to understand the sales documents required. Not least are your skills at negotiating when it comes to deciding the final price. The choice is yours!

French Property News is available in newsagents or on subscription;