Additional costs to think about when purchasing a property...?

I have not been able to nail down the cost of the (required) notaire services, though I've read to "expect to pay as much as 8% of the purchase price of a property". (Yikes!) I understand his/her function and I also understand that either the buyer can hire him or the seller can -- or both.

Could someone please specify those charges?

Other questions:

  • Would it ever be a problem to use a single notaire for both seller/buyer?

  • What is it that determines the pace at which a notaire works?


  • I have allowed for a 6% 'purchase transfer tax'...correct?

  • I have allowed for a 4% real estate agency fee...correct?

Any others?

I am only interested here in learning the purchase costs, not the ongoing taxes.

I haven't seen these notaire and cost-related questions answered in previous posts....if they were, please point me

Thank you!

By the way...the real estate agents here are a piece of work.

There is one fellow, though, who connects well and runs a website called something like Dreams for Sale France that always has very amusing narratives whether the properties are worth buying or not.

To : Simon, Peter, Andrew, Tobias, John, Catherine, Sylvia: I really appreciate the commentary and information. Now I feel a) less likely to make a mistake, and b) more likely to spend more money. I do feel blessed, not only because your names read like some biblical listing of the disciples of Christ, but because you are so kind with your opinions. Thank you.

that is now the case,Toby, but wasn't until things changed on 1st jan 2013. Before you could sell on a new build at 3%.

nobody's that daft to hand over dosh at the notaire's, it's done before or after ;-)

I think the days are gone when the notaire would discreetly leave the room while a portion of the purchase price is handed over in cash and, as you say, not to be promoted as it’s illegal. Well, I’m guessing it still goes on to some extent but you don’t hear about it as often.

On our sale the agent listed out separately fixed items we had included in the purchase price–all the major appliances, etc. The total price we received was the same but the buyer saved a small amount of tax, probably 600€, as these items weren’t taxable as part of the value of the house. Our buyer also bought some of our furniture but these he paid for separately by check.

Be sure you are clear with your seller on what is included and what isn’t, sellers have been known to take down light fixtures, bathroom towel rails, etc. Don’t assume anything.

The notaire no longer physically collects the purchase plus tax and fees in check or cash form, it is done by bank transfer. This will not affect you adversely but in our case as sellers, the funds were not deposited in our bank until 4 full days after completion. This was I believe due to our receiving bank being in the UK but still annoying.

Andrew, Roland,

Old is anything that has already been bought once, whatever the period of occupation. Someone buys a flat, sells it after 6 months, it's "old"

New : "frais de notaire" a bit under 3%

Old ; "frais de notaire" nearly 9%

colour touchscreen, the full monty ;-)

You have an electronic till ? Show off.... :-)

Hi Roland,

You're looking at a bit under 57k€. This is payed by the buyer. No way to reduce this other than paying some of the price hand to hand in cash, I really don't promote this idea.

A notaire works as fast as he does, no idea what determins that, but he is payed when you sign.

Agency costs are negociable, from a flat rate de upto 9% (rare when you're considering 800k€)

Welcome to France

Hi Roland,

I'm posting this link in case it's useful, I think it may answer some of your questions:

Peter - anything's possible but you need to be in the know/market place to know if you're getting a good deal or not. That's often out of the question for most ex-pats, that I accept and let's not forget that there's often a parallel market for foreign buyers paying higher prices...!

Simon - completely agree, almost all of my property deals in France have been private (I have agency experience and I'm tri-lingiual) but when buying our fonds de commerce (tabac) we went through a specialised business agent, in fact it's almost impossible to do otherwise due to the complexity and that most trying to sell privately aren't often worth what the people are asking for them - the likes of michel simond et al. have refused to market them for what the people want - I've seen way over 4 times EBE privately where the EBE is dubious too...!

That's true, Andrew, but what Roland - and a lot of foriegn buyers - are looking for is more akin to a fonds de commerce. Gite businesses and Guest Houses may be sold as simple habitations but buyers want to see figures, bilans if possible, and to know just how much they can expect to make from the business. It often works out cheaper to buy through an agent specialised in these sort of transactions than to trust some joker who has pinned up an ad in his local SuperU.

I've bought a number of simple houses privately but all the cafés and restaurants I've bought have been through specialist agencies. No point in taking risks.

Good point but it seems to me that private sellers usually ask more or less the same market's the seller who then pockets the saving not the buyer.

Not sure about that Val. One of her concerns is that agencies have different commission rates, negotiation is always possible and there is a lot of promising and breaking promises going on. However, people coming to France with hard bitten ideas about negotiating, as is done in other countries, run a serious risk of finding their dream house then putting the vendors off by making offers that are far too low. Sometimes agents do advise against accepting offers but often it is people selling property themselves who will not budge. So when clients get angry with agents about negotiations not going as they wish, then they are often losing a 'friend' in that to compensate when a deal simply does not work, the agent will put themself out to find a property that matches expectations.

Notaires are another story. They are both business people and public servants. About 60% of their commission goes to the government as tax and stamp duty. They do not get €10,000 from a €10,000 commission. They get about €4,000. So they too are out to see the highest possible prices. The service they offer is very variable but they should be treated with delicacy. A while ago somebody aggressively emailed notaire and both parties involved in a sale of land. He told the notaire exactly when he would be there, ditto the two buyers and demanded that an English speaker be there for him. He gave a day and exact time. He chose a Friday at 1330. Firstly, lunchtime so there he was already on a hiding to nothing. Then he did not account for the fact that either buyer may not be available. One was certainly not because he was away on holiday in Spain. The other just felt put out at being told what to do so just did not reply or make any attempt to see if there was any alternative. So the vendor arrived on flight X, collected a hire car and drove to where his appointment had been set by him. The notaire's office was closed, nobody was there. He waited, around 1400 somebody showed up to open the office. He went in and hit a brick wall of no English (the secretary probably can but...) until a junior notaire showed him up and said Maître X would not be back that afternoon because she had appointments elsewhere. The man demanded this assistant do the work, but she refused saying it was one of her boss's own assignments so she was not entitled. The man made a terrible fuss, tried shouting about how important he is and basically achieved nothing. Except that is, that he found himself with completion of the sale of his land almost four months later than he had originally expected. The notaire did everything at her pace at effectively punished him.

The point in telling that tale is that they have the upper hand, it is probably best to go along with their pace and way of doing things as much as it displeases you. As Sean says above, they are quite capable of playing silly buggers with money so make sure you remain on totally friendly terms with them and agree the best you can get out of them.

As for the rest Roland, if you have ever played poker then you will understand the need to be emotionless, straight faced (even when winning a lot), patient, never letting anything out of sight or pass by unnoticed and then you you are probably fine. If you have a good agent who can work well with notaires then you may have somebody doing the playing for you and letting you tag along for signatures and other formalities. Standing screaming on their doorsteps does not work.

A property survey (which has not been mentioned - cough!) should not be an expensive item to provide 'peace of mind' about the condition of the property - roof, walls, floors etc, boundary issues, third party rights and help to prepare a schedule of essential repairs. Many dealers will tell you that: 1: they don't bother with surveys in France, and; 2 - the Diagnostic Reports will tell you tell you need to know. The first is accurate, but entirely misleading (anything built by man, or woman, will fail at some point); the second is entirely inaccurate and demonstrates complacency, ignorance or worse.......

If there's no bank wanting to know about the security of their loan funds; you're free to spend your own money as you wish; but for a few hundred Euros you can make a better informed purchase decision. "Caveat Emptor", as they say!

Here endeth the lesson for today!

worth mentioning too, sorry Simon, that agent's fees can often be avoided by buying privately (about half the transactions in France are private). I've bought and sold half a dozen places privately with no real hassle although it helps if you speak French fluently.

Hi Roland,

Estate agent's fees can be as low as 3% ... if you know where to look ;-)

Other than that you have the notaire's fees covered: in fact this term is mainly made up of govt tax/stamp duty.We never encourage buyers or sellers to have their 'own' notaire: one is quite enough. The two months to three months it takes to process the transaction is incompressible: various searches take time and there are statutory time-limits for certain parties to reply to the notaire's enquiries: eg, the SAFER has a couple to months in which to find out if any local farmers want to pre-empt the sale.

Good luck with your house-hunting!


Round here immobilier agencies (dept 81 & 82) charge 5% commission and we negotiated it down to 4% (this was 2 years ago so maybe its changed). Sole agency is cheaper but not such a great idea in a depressed market.

Word of warning to sellers, double check you get all the money from the notaire after the sale (sometimes it comes through in different lumps sums. We discovered we were "missing" 6000€ nearly a year later - which promptly appeared in our bank account when we queried it with the notaire but no explanation or apology... We reported him to some official body but haven't heard anything back yet . For sellers living abroad where the funds are switched into pounds, this would be quite easy not to pick up on.

too many times to mention! and yes, i'm typing this from my tabac, on the till - it's electronic and has internet ;-)