Monday, June 16, 2014

Property searching

As well as selling my existing home, I am also starting to search for another apartment - this time away from the coast and in the nearest large town. Despite - or perhaps because of - the slowdown in the French property market there is a huge choice of small apartments of the sort I am looking for. And after a couple of frustrating weeks, literally overwhelmes by the wide selection on officer, I decided that in order to save time - and stay sane - I must revise and stick to my list of requirements. I hope it may help others caught up in a property search. My advice to myself is:

- Accept there is a huge choice, draw up a list of what is acceptable and what is not - and stick to your rules!

 - Best concentrate on one or two selected areas, get to know them through regular visits, and decide if this is where you would actually be happy to live. Visit at different times of day/evening, at weekends, literally check out you possible future neighbours!

- Look at For Sale boards (agents or private sellers), LeBoncoin etc and spend time looking at potential properties from the outside before even arranging a visit, to see how they fit into the area, and may put you off - a noisy street, a bar opposite, absence of parking etc. These are the sort of things you cannot change, and you need to decide if they are unacceptable or you could live with them.

- Look at the general condition of the property - outside painting, state of the front door, are there hastily printed names next to the doorbells indicating high turnover of occupants etc. Look at the state of Windows and curtains, also cars parked outside (always a reliable indicator).

- My practical half tells me I should buy a ground floor property (looking ahead to old age etc) so I tell myself to stop dreaming of attics and lofts!

- How small? How large? Given that every square metre costs money in taxes, charges and heating bills, be realistic about how much space you really need. Maybe now is the ideal time to review how much 'stuff' you own and start paring down your possessions.

- Looking ahead, just in case, is the property resellable? I like atypical properties - former shops or workshops, lofts etc - but atypical properties need atypical buyers if you have to sell in the future.

- Agents' détails often miss out the most important things and even before visiting you need to have your own checklist - what floor is the property on, taxes, management charges, future works planned for which you will have to pay, are the building managers a large company or is the property managed by a group of volunteer residents?

And when you finally get to look Inside:

- Remember that floors, walls and ceiling can be changed; a new kitchen or bathroom installed - factor in these potential costs.

Good hunting!


Friday, June 6, 2014

Apartment sale (2)

Further to my post of 30 May below, I am now in the process of selling my apartment under the new regulations required by the loi Duflot/ALUR , which requires the vendor provide a lot of additional information about the property, some of which was normally made available only at the signature of the acte finale (final document completing the sale) but which now has to be available to the potential buyer before he/she signs the compromis de vente (or pre-contract) and is asked to make a down payment on account, normally based on 10% of the sale price.

As noted below, the new procedures can delay the preparation and signature of the compromis de vente by, according to some estimates, 4 to 6 weeks - leaving the vendor in a position of uncertainty as to whether he has a genuine sale or not. As I wish to buy another property as soon as my present one is sold, it is difficult to agree any firm offers as my purchase will depend on my sale. Working closely with my agent and in cooperation with the buyer, we have taken the following steps which I would recommend to others involved in selling their apartment within  a co-ownership (copropriété) building:

1. I have confirmed with the syndic (building managers) that the charge they will make for supplying the documents required related to the history and management of the building - this will be made of a charge of €400 frais de mutation (change of ownership of the apartment) and an additional €250 for providint eh remaining documents.

2. I have signed and the buyer has countersigned a 'letter of intent to buy'  (lettre d'intention d'achat) which sets out the main terms and conditions that we are asking the notaire to include in the comromis de vente, including:
- Détails of the buyer and seller, description and address of the property
- Confirmation of the sale price including the agent's commission
- Confirmation that the buyer intends paying cash and is not seeking a bank loan or mortgage (this ensures that his cooling-off period (droit de réflexion) will be just seven days after signature of the compromis.
- Confirmation of the likely timescale for preparation and signature of the compromis and if all goes well, final completion.

This is very helpful for me as vendor and once the compromis is signed and a deposit lodged with the notaire, I am in a better position to start looking for another property and making a tentative offer using the above procedure. As my buyer does not wish to move in until early September, I am hoping to complete my purchase to coincide, thus avoiding the need to put my furniture in storage, and hopefully I will move directly from my old apartment to my new one. Fingers crossed!

I will post more information over the coming weeks as it happens.