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Questions to Ask When Buying Property in France + Translations in French

So you’ve made the decision to buy your pied a terre in France, and it’s action stations to be sure that you can make it happen as quickly as possible.

You’ve gone through the portfolio of properties that correspond to your criteria, and you, your agent, or your buyer’s representative are planning to visit properties.

House buying anywhere requires a cool head even when the property has been a coup de coeur (love at first sight). When you’ve whittled your list down to two or three key properties, this is the time to get some answers to key questions that might sway your decision one way or the other.  

Below we've listed some key questions to get the ball rolling. For your convenience, we've also added the French translations in red to help you on your way. 

Documents to ask for

Naturally, any purchase of property will imply a number of different documents. The notary (solicitor) and/or agents acting on your behalf will get hold of these documents and explain them to you.

On your side, you will need to provide:

1. ID, proof of your family situation and address
   Justificatifs d'identité, de situation familiale et d’adresse

2. Information about how you will pay for the new property
   Information sur le mode de financement

The seller will need to provide the following. These documents are usually collected by the notary:

3. Property title deeds
   Le titre de propriété

4. Current tax notices for all three taxes - income tax, property tax, household tax
   Le dernier avis d’imposition, de taxe foncière, et de taxe d’habitation

5. All documents relating to construction work done on the property - construction permit, extension permit, etc
   Documents relatifs aux travaux et modifications - permis de construire, autorisation de travaux, etc

6. Technical diagnostic document
   Le dossier de diagnostic technique

General questions 

1. Why is the property up for sale? 
   Pourquoi la propriété est-elle en vente ?

2. How long have the sellers lived there? Or used it as their French base?
   Depuis combien de temps les vendeurs y habitaient-ils? Ou bien l'ont-ils utilisé comme “pied à terre” en France ?

3. Has it been on the market a long time?
   Le bien a-t-il été sur le marché depuis longtemps ?

4. How long does it take to get to town/the beach/the airport/the motorway?
   Combien de temps faut-il pour se rendre en ville / à la plage / à l'aéroport / sur l'autoroute ?

5. What is the local environment like – where’s the best boulangerie? Restaurants? Schools?
   Comment est l'environnement local - où est la meilleure boulangerie? Restaurants? Écoles ?

You might want to expand the questions above depending on your personal situation and the property you are considering buying.

Digging deeper

1. What is the condition of the roof? Is there any major work to do to it?
    Quel est l'état du toit? Y a-t-il un travail important à faire ?

2. What services are there (sewage, drainage, water supply, electricity, gas etc.)?
    Quels services y a-t-il (eaux usées, drainage, approvisionnement en eau, électricité, gaz, etc.) ?

2a. Is the property on mains drainage or septic tank (fosse septique)?
      La propriété est-elle située sur le réseau de drainage ou la fosse septique ?

2b. If septic tank, is it relatively new? 
      Si fosse septique, est-elle relativement récente ?

Note: There have been recent changes to the regulations concerning septic tanks so if it’s an older one, it will need to be brought up to speed and you will need to obtain proof that it conforms to current regulations (certificat de conformite). 

3. Is broadband or fibre optic internet available and what upload and download speeds are possible?
     L'internet est accessible par adsl ou fibre optique? Si oui quelles sont les vitesses de téléchargement/chargement ?

4. What fixtures and fittings are included? French sellers often take everything, including light fittings.
     Quels sont les éléments inclus avec le bien? Les vendeurs français récupèrent souvent tout, y compris les luminaires.

5. Is the swimming pool a recent installation and if not, are there any problems with tiling, pump, safety barriers etc?
     La piscine est-elle récente. Si ce n’est pas le cas, y a-t-il des problèmes de carrelage, de pompe, de barrières de sécurité, etc.?

6. Has there been an independent structural survey?
     Existe-t-il un rapport sur la structure/les fondations de la maison ?

7. Could I have a copy of results of any such survey, plus invoices for any work undertaken, and also the technical diagnosis?
     Puis-je avoir une copie des résultats des rapports de ce type, plus des factures pour tout travail entrepris, ainsi que le diagnostic technique ?

8. How much are the annual fees for the property taxes (taxe foncières etc.)?
     Combien coûtent les frais annuels pour les taxes (taxes foncières etc.) ?

9. If there have been recent modifications, are they still under guarantee?
     S'il y a eu des modifications récentes, sont-elles toujours sous garantie ?

10. Has planning permission for any alterations or extensions ever been refused?
     Y’a t’il eu un refus de permis pour une demande de modification ou d’extension ?

Questions about the land

1. Who owns the land/property around your property?
     A qui appartient le terrain / la propriété autour de votre propriété ?

2. What are the boundaries to your property?
     Quelles sont les délimitations de votre propriété ?

3. Are the boundaries shown on the land register (plan cadastral)?
     Est ce que les délimitations sont indiquées sur le plan cadastral ?

4. Who is responsible for the maintenance of the boundaries?
     Qui est responsable pour le maintien des délimitations ?

5. Are there any rights of way over the land, formal or informal?
     Existe-t-il des droits de passage sur le terrain, formels ou informels ?

6. What is the relationship with neighbours?
     Quelle est la relation avec les voisins ?

7. Are there any disputes/claims in progress?
     Existe-t-il des différends / revendications en cours ?

8. Are there any pipes, cables or similar running through your property which concern your neighbours?
     Y at-il des tuyaux , des câbles ou autre traversant votre propriété qui appartienent à vos voisins ?

9. If there is open land, is it agricultural land or might it be ‘constructible’ now or in the near future?
     Si la propriété est entourée aujourd’hui de terrains non exploités, est-ce un terrain agricole ou pourrait-il être «constructible» maintenant ou dans un proche avenir?

10. Are the local/regional authorities planning any big infrastructure projects (motorways, etc)?
     Les autorités locales et régionales prévoient-elles des projets d'infrastructure importants (autoroutes, etc.) ?

11. Is the access to your property private or public? If private, who owns it and has responsibility for its maintenance?
     L'accès à votre propriété est-il privé ou public? Si privé, qui en est propriétaire et qui est responsable de son entretien?

Investment Potential

1. Have you ever rented out the property either long term or short term?
     Avez-vous déjà loué la propriété pour du long terme ou bien pour du court terme?

 2. What kind of revenue did you earn from that?
     Quel est le niveau de revenu que cela a generé ?

3. Does the property come with any other assets? Website, videos etc?
     La propriété vient-elle avec certains outils déjà existants, tels qu’un Site Web, vidéos, etc. ? 

Taxes & Bills 

1. What is the cost of Tax Foncière on this property?
     Quel est le montant de la Taxe Foncière pour cette propriété ?

Bear in mind you will also have to pay ‘Tax d'Habitation’ but the cost of that depends on your income so it is different from one person to the next. 

2. Are you able to share energy bills and expected output?
     Pouvez-vous partager les factures d'énergie et la consommation annuelle ?

The list is not exhaustive but having the answers to these questions will give you much more reassurance about the property.

If the current owners don’t have some of the answers or documents about the land, get your representative to visit the local town hall (mairie) where the documents for land surveys, building permission and so on are lodged.

We've compiled this list of questions to ask when buying property in France in a Google Doc format so you can copy and paste to email or print them out: Download Questions.

Good luck and bienvenue to your new home!

Find our full portfolio of French Riviera properties below:

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