Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Property surveys in France

When you buy a property in France you need to be aware that you buy it as seen. The vendor has to provide the seller (and the notaire) with reports identifying the presence of asbestos (lutte contre le saturnisme), lead in paint (amiante) and the presence of termites and parasites. New reports include septic tanks (raccordement au réseau d’assainissement), electrical safety (état de l’installation intérieure électrique) and energy consumption in the house (diagnostic de performance énergétique).

All these reports are carried out by specialist companies and are – of course – written in French. It is very important to read and understand them before signing any papers (compromis de vente).

Recently I had to interpret for an English couple who was buying a property in Brittany. Although the agent was English, he didn’t fully explain the septic tank report. When I translated at the notaire’s for them they found out the septic tank was in good working order but was not conforming to the new regulations. They had to think about having a new septic tank installed within a couple of years. A septic tank could be rather pricey (between 5,000 and 10,000 euros) depending on the ground, access, size of the plot, number of bedrooms, etc. If this couple had known about the septic tank issue beforehand, they would have probably asked the vendor to reduce the price. Unfortunately it was too late to negotiate anything as they were about to sign the final papers (acte de vente). Negotiations are done before signing any paper so before signing the compromis de vente.

When you buy a house in France, take your time. Seek advice from a translator if you don’t speak French. You could save a lot of money and stress!

See my post about ‘Why you should employ a translator / interpreter when buying a house in Francehere.

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