LAST EDITED ON 12-Sep-03 AT 04:10 PM (GMT)
This message was originaly posted by property_pete
There are at least three ways to buy a house in France (OK, I know this is a generalisation because there are plenty of very helpful notaires as well as immobiliers that don't do as they should).
1. If you know a lot about property buying in France and want to get the cheapest and most basic deal, go to a notaire. You will pay a sales commission of an average of 5% plus VAT (the cheaper the property, the greater the percentage), added on at the end (i.e. not part of the advertised price) along with the legal costs. You will probably have to sort out your own utility connections, planning permissions, local taxes etc and may well need to pay a translator to be at the signing and help you deal with the notaire. Notaires can be difficult to contact, and few can (or rather will) communicate in English.
2. If you need help buying but don't necessarily want to hand over the whole process, use an immobilier. You pay a little more in sales commissions (say 7%, some agents can charge up to 15% for the cheapest properties) but this is part of the advertised price. You still need to budget for the legal fees. The immobilier should help with utilities, planning, taxes etc, liase with the notaire and the seller throughout and attend the signing to translate for you.
3. If you have little confidence or knowledge about property transactions in France, or no time to deal with notaires and immobiliers, you can go to one of the UK-based agents which charges an all-inclusive price, including a fee for helping you find the property and guiding you through the purchase process. You will pay quite a high premium for this - typically 2000-3000, but at least this is advertised up front and the advertised price includes legal fees etc. Don't confuse the last option with the UK-based agents who act as representatives for French immobiliers. They will normally arrange introductions to immobiliers and, should a sale result, take a percentage of the immobilier's commission, so you pay no extra yourself.
There are also private sales, e.g. via advertisements in publications like Living France. Or you can employ a 'granny' or some other consultant to help you find a house and help you through buying it. You will usually pay for this service, but it tends to be in the hundreds rather than the thousands of pounds.