Selling share on holiday home

We bought a holiday home with family friends but they now wish to sell their share. What are the formalities involved to transfer full ownership to us?  A.F.

25 July 2017

The formalities depend on whether the property is owned via an SCI (a fiscally transparent property-owning partnership) or in your individual names (en indivision).

You do not mention an SCI so we assume you own en indivision, which equates to owning as ‘tenants in common’ under English law. Sales between co-owners are called a ‘licitation’ but, for tax, are seen as a sale.

Provided there is no outstanding mortgage and no special conditions attached to a sale, it should be possible to by-pass the contract stage and move directly to the final acte de licitation.

As a transfer of ownership between existing co-owners, there will be no need for diagnostics and no need to ‘purge’ pre-emption rights (you may recall from when you bought the property that the notaire had to notify the commune and perhaps also the Safer agricultural body).

Depending on how long ago you bought the property and whether any major works have been carried out, it would be prudent (and the notaire may insist) on an up-to-date valuation. A market appraisal (avis de valeur) by a local estate agent should suffice.

Fees and tax for the transfer would generally be paid by you as the acquiring party, although you may agree a different arrangement.

Unless you work with the notaire who dealt with your purchase (not obligatory), the notaire will need copies of the title deed, passports, marriage certificates and proof of UK addresses.

A transfer could take 6–8 weeks with no need for anyone to travel to France to sign documents; powers of attorney can be signed in the UK appointing a notaire clerk to sign on your behalf.

The price could be paid in sterling but the deed must specify both the euro equivalent price and exchange rate used. Funds must pass via a UK solicitor’s account and not be transferred directly between the parties.

Question answered by Barbara Heslop of Heslop & Platt answers a reader query

Tel: +44 (0)113 393 1930 -

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