I have found a buyer for my French home - what's next?
We are selling up in France to return to the UK and have found a buyer. At what stage do we receive the money? What fees and taxes are due? Should we involve an English solicitor?
Once a sale has been agreed, if an estate agency is involved, it will normally prepare the first contract and often will be authorised to receive and hold the buyer’s deposit.
If there is no agent, the notaire will prepare the first contract and, once it is signed by both parties, the buyer will be required to transfer 10% of the price to the notaire’s account. This stays with the agent or notaire until completion.
No monies should pass directly between the buyer and you. Do not believe those who say otherwise.
A typical sale takes three months and you should receive the net sale proceeds from the notaire within a week of completion. You will be required to arrange diagnostic reports on the property at a cost of around €500-1,000. Most companies will want payment up front but sometimes they will wait to receive payment via the notaire on completion.
As you are resident in France, provided you are in the French tax system, you should benefit from a main residence exemption and will not pay capital gains tax in France on the proceeds. The buyer pays the notaire’s fees.
The French conveyancing system is safe and, if you do not speak French, the notaire may insist on the presence of an interpreter when you sign the final sale deed.
However, unless you understand the process and documentation, there can be pitfalls, and a notaire, even if they speak English, will usually focus on the formalities rather than providing explanation and advice.
While there is an extra fee, opting to have a specialist UK-based solicitor assist you as early as possible should give peace of mind and reassurance as they will explain the documents and guide you through the process from start to finish.
Question answered by Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query
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