The glossary has been designed to help you to understand the property estate ‘jargon’.

Please note that some of the regulations, taxes or law may vary from time to time and we aim to keep the information up to date. Also we always recommend you to seek specialist advices in French law or taxes or regulations, as their application may vary with your specific situation.

 

A

  ACTE AUTHENTIQUE OR ACTE DE VENTE (“FINAL CONTRACT”)
The Final Contract is an official document, called the deed of sale. It incorporates the terms of contract and on its signature at the Notaire’s office, the property passes to the buyer.

  AGENT IMMOBILIER (“ESTATE AGENT”)
The estate agent is a professional representing the vendor, the buyer or the tenant, during the purchase or the letting procedure of apartments, buildings, houses, parcel of lands… The estate agent is not the owner of the properties he or she is offering to sell or rent.

  ASBESTOS SURVEYS (“ETAT D'AMIANTE”)
Vendors of houses and flats are required to append to their preliminary sales agreement a certificate stating the presence or absence of asbestos.
They must have a survey carried out by an authorised asbestos surveyor and, where necessary, provide proof that any measures stipulated in the surveyor's report have been completed.

 

B

  BOUCLIER FISCAL (“TAX-SHIELD”)
From the 1 January 2007 the maximum tax that an individual will be required to pass is 60% of their income. Tax for the purposes of this rule consists of income tax, wealth tax, taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation.

 

C

  CLAUSES SUSPENSIVES (“GET OUT” CLAUSES)
The Clauses Suspensives are there to protect the parties and are drafted as part of the Compromis de Vente. They permit the buyer to withdraw from the purchase under certain circumstances, such as not being able to obtain finance, having a request for outline planning permission refused.  These clauses are an important element of the contract because until they become unconditional (within a stipulated time limit) the contract is unenforceable.

  CONTRAT DE RESERVATION
The Contrat de Reservation applies on New Development. It is a preliminary private deed whereby the developer ("reserving party") agrees to reserve for the buyer ("reserver") an agreed area in a building he plans to build. The buyer pays a 5% deposit and indicates his financing plan.

  COMPROMIS DE VENTE (“FIRST OR INITIAL CONTRACT”)
The initial contract results from the negotiation between the vendor and the buyer of a property. Either the Notaire or the Estate Agent can prepare it; it is then respectively called a Compromis de Vente or a Sous-Seing Prive. The Initial Contract, signed by both parties, is a legally binding agreement on both parties. At this stage, the buyer will pay a deposit of 10%. This deposit will be deducted from the purchase price if the final deed is signed. If however the purchaser wanted for personal reasons not to proceed with the purchase then the deposit will be paid to the vendor (except if the cancellation is due to uncontrolled events – see Clauses Suspensives).
A less familiar Initial contract exits, called Promesse de Vente. The Promesse de vente is not a legally binding agreement on both parties but a unilateral sales agreement where the vendor still commit themselves in the form of promising not to sell the property to anyone else for a defined period, usually 3 months. The buyer still has to pay a deposit between 5% and 10% of the purchase price which will be lost if they do not go ahead.

 

D

  DROIT DE RETRACTION (“7-DAY COOLING OFF PERIOD”)  (LOI SRU)
Under this legislation, purchasers have a 7-day withdrawal or "cooling off" period (Droit de Rétraction or Droit de Réflexion). The payment of an earnest money deposit in the case of a unilateral purchasing agreement is prohibited under pain of the agreement being declared null and void.

  DROITS DE SUCCESSION (“INHERITANCE TAX”)
The information about the Inheritance, relating to what is happening to the property if the owner dies, is in the final deed and is not always determined by the content of a will. The form of the purchase contract of the property will determine what happens to the property following the death of the owner. French law for inheritance is substantially different to the English one, you should seek advice from a specialised lawyer who understand the French law and implication for you.

 

I

  IMPOT SUR LA FORTUNE or ISF (“WEALTH TAX”)
The wealth tax applies to those who have net taxable assets exceeding 750,000 euros. For those domiciled in France, their assets worldwide are taken into account, and those domiciled abroad, only their French assets are included in the assessment.
The ISF applies to all assets save for business assets, antiques, works of art and intellectual property. The tax therefore applies not only to land and buildings, but also to bank accounts, stocks and shares, boats and yachts, horses, jewellery, gold, precious metals and even furniture and contracts of life insurance.
Various items are deductible, including tax liabilities, mortgages and bank overdrafts. The date for the valuation of assets is 1 January of each year.
Please note that taxes may vary if you live or not in France. It is recommended that you ask for specialist advice from a tax consultant who has knowledge of the French tax system.

  IMPOT SUR LES PLUS VALUES (“CAPITAL GAINS TAX”)
It is payable on the profit realized on the sale of certain assets in France, including property, antiques, art, jewellery and stocks and shares. There is a flat rate of 26 per cent for residents and 16 percent for EU citizens not resident in France.
Your principal residence is not subject to capital gains tax, provided that it was your principal residence at the time of sale, or was your main residence less than one year prior to the sale.
A sliding scale exemption is applied to any other property that you have owned for at least five years. This amounts to 10% per year of ownership from the sixth year resulting in total exemption after 15 years. Should you be obliged to sell your home for family or worked-related reasons, you are also exempt from capital gains tax.
Please note that taxes may vary if you live or not in France. It is recommended that you ask for specialist advice from a tax consultant who has knowledge of the French tax system.

 

L

  LEAD SURVEYS (“RISQUE D'ACCESSIBILITE AU PLOMB”)
The vendor to all preliminary and final sales agreements must append a lead-based paint survey.

 

N

  NOTAIRE (“SOLLICITOR”)
The Notaire is known as the solicitor, he is a member of the legal profession entrusted by the French Republic to authenticate deeds, thus bringing more security to both signatories. It is also thanks to them that the French system for real estate transactions is noted to be one of the most secure in the world. The Notaire is a neutral body in the transaction as he acts as a public official. Hence it is mostly unnecessary to appoint a dedicated Notaire.

 

P

  PRET IMMOBILIER (“MORTGAGE”)
A mortgage is a temporary, conditional pledge of property to a creditor as security for repayment of a loan. It is drawn up legally and published in.

  PROJET D’ACTE (“DRAFT TITLE”)
The Draft Title is the document that the Notaire sends to the buyer by registered mail with acknowledgement of receipt, within the month preceding the signature date of the Final Contract. The Draft Title includes all the information relating to the Final Contract terms and conditions.

 

S

  SAFER – SOCIETE D’AMENAGEMENT FONCIER AND D’ETABLISSEMENT RURAL
The SAFER is involved in property purchase when the property land is over 1ha. In this instance, the SAFER has an automatic right of pre-emption in order to preserve the land, which it feels should either continue or remain in agricultural use. The SAFER rarely exercises this right, but the Notaire is obliged to notify the SAFER before proceeding to the sale. Should the SAFER object the sale, than any agreement is null and void, the purchaser shall then recover its deposit.

 

T

  TAXE D’HABITATION (“RESIDENTIAL TAX")
The Taxe d’Habitation is a local services tax.  The occupier of the house or flat on the 1st of January is liable to pay the tax, whether he owns, rents or occupies it free of charge. There can be some exemptions for over 60’s and if the property is incapable of occupation due to extensive renovations. The latest will need to be proved and the exemption confirmed by the local mayor!!

  TAXE FONCIERE (“PROPERTY TAX")
The Taxe Foncière is a land tax paid to the local authorities by all owners of real estate in the municipality concerned.

  TERMITES (“ETAT PARASITAIRE")
The vendor of a property is also required to carry out a termite survey, less than 3 months prior to the preliminary agreement for the sale.

  TVA OR TAXE SUR LA VALEUR AJOUTEE (“VAT”)
The current TVA rate in France is 19.6%.

 

 
 
 
 
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