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Legal advice in France

Generally speaking, Freehold means that you own the property and the land. Also, when you pass away, the ownership is transferred to your inheritor.

The basic rule here is that the inheritance of French real estate is subject to the French Law. Usually, the property will be transferred to children and surviving spouse.

In case you want to modify this inheritance system, there could be some possibilities such as :

  • Donate to your children
    you can donate free of inheritance tax a value up to 100,000€ each child, every 10 years.
  • Register the property under company name SCI (Société Civile Immobilière)
    In this case, the inheritance laws of country of your residence will be applicable.

The rate of inheritance tax depends on the link between the beneficiary (the inheritor) and the value received.

So in reality each case is unique. That’s why, if you have special need or requirement, we will organise a meeting between you and the notary in France so that you receive best professional advice.

As soon as you’ve found your property, you need to follow various steps to register it under your name.

1. The reservation contract

To prepare the reservation contract, we need :

  • Your passport copy
  • Your civil status form duly completed
  • The receipt of 5% deposit paid on the notary public escrow account

We will send you the reservation contract, each document in 3 copies that you will be required to sign :

  • Reservation Contract
  • Floor plan of the property
  • Basement plan for store and/or parking space
  • Master plan of the project
  • Provisional Payment plan
  • Technical description of the construction

At this stage, you benefit from 10 days cooling off period which allows you to think over your purchase decision. Should you wish not to proceed, you can cancel your reservation and get your deposit back. In case, you decided to cancel your reservation after this cooling off period and decided not to proceed with the signature of title deed, the deposit will be transferred by the notary to the developer as a compensation.

2. The title deed of sale – Ownership contract

The notary will be ready to transfer the property under your name as soon as he has received the following :

  • Bank guarantee from the developer
  • Construction guarantee from the developer
  • All documents from municipality and administration to proceed
  • The attestation that construction site is opened

Prior to sending the ownership contract, the notary will request you some documents and certificates such as :

  • Marriage certificate if you are married (Translated in English)
  • Birth certificate (Translated in English)

Every owner of an apartment building or in a villa compound, has to contribute to the maintenance charges.

With the contribution of those charges, the services of a professional management company are required in order to keep the residence clean and in good condition. The management company also takes care of the residence’s budget and calculate the cost due by each owner.

The cost depends on the maintenance required for the residence and the services provided. Please ask us for the quotation for the property, you are looking to purchase.

General Expenses

General expenses include costs related to :

  • Administration of the building (e. g. trustee’s fees, expenses for General Meetings …)
  • Maintenance of the building (e. g. cleaning of common areas …)
  • And the upkeep of the building (e.g. cleaning facades, roof repairs …)

These expenses are paid by all owners, even if the expenditure has no direct relevance to their property.

Annual General Meeting

Once a year, a meeting with all co-owners (present or represented) and the management company is organised. The purpose of this meeting is to decide about the management of the building, to take decision about special works to be done (repaint the outside walls, to change the entrance hall etc) and to vote for the budget for next year. It is the occasion, where all co-owners can ask questions about costs or to propose new ideas regarding the management of the building or compound.


As an owner of French property, you are liable for couple of taxes which are payable annually:

  • Property tax
  • Residential tax

To calculate the tax of your property, please, do not hesitate to ask us for an estimate.

Maintenance Fees

The maintenance fees will be paid each quarter in advance, to the “Syndic”.
We estimate the maintenance fees between 6€ to 10€ per square meter per quarter (24€ to 40€ per Sqm per year)

Notary Fees

To register the property under your name, you need to pay the legal fees.

  • If you buy an off plan property from a developer: It is approximately 3% of the property price
  • If you buy a resale or second hand property or a land: It is about 8% of the property price

Utility bill

As soon as you get the keys of your property, you need to subscribe to the utility services: Water, Gas and Electricity. The cost of those utility services depends on your consumption.
However, prior to applying for utility services, you are required to have a bank account in France.
To open a bank account in France, usually, the French banks ask for the following documents :

  • Your passport copy
  • An original bank reference letter from your bank from your resident country
  • An original utility bill from your resident country
  • 10,000€ deposit

Full risk insurance

Although, it is not an obligation by law, we highly recommend you to apply for full risk insurance. It will protect you in case of fire, water damage, natural disaster and burglary.
Most of the banks provide insurance service. So, as soon as your bank account is opened, you can ask for an insurance quotation.

Asset tax

If you own a property with a value more than 1,300,000 €, you will be liable to pay an asset tax.

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