Nightmare buying French house

Hi everyone,
New to this forum but looking for advice.
You couldn’t make this up!
So we live in Uk but buying a property 40 mins outside Bordeaux. We are getting married at Christmas and hoped to throw a party in our new house. We signed the compromis in May and sold our house in UK to fund the purchase. It was all straightforward as the sellers were keen to hurry things along and we sold our house quickly so on 7 sept we came over to France to sign the Acte de Vente. We shared Notaire as told by sellers their English v good but service has been appalling and never answers emails or busy when we phone. We sent deposit and had to force an acknowledgement that it had been received. We put a trace on our money so knew it had been received. He then asked for details birth certs, passports etc and we then were told that the Acte de vente could be signed on the 7 sept. Contract stated 10 sept all had to be signed. We arrived at notaires office to be told one of the 4 sellers had died and sale couldn’t take place.It actually happened a week before so wasted journey from Uk . Out of the goodness of their hearts let us store belongings in the house as empty but we have to pay insurance and sign a tenancy agreement. The Notaire has the full monies for house as told had to be in his account on day we signed. We had removals and flights for family booked and taken off 4 weeks off work. All wasted. They then said because of inheritance laws the process will take 2 weeks but could take months. We were told it will be quick. It is now 9 oct and rang last week and keep saying it’s not sorted yet. What if it takes months!! The Notaire says that we can pull out of sale and he will return money but we still want the house but want to go back to just the deposit being paid and the monies returned so we get the interest on the capital. We are having sleepless nights and they don’t even keep us updated.
Anyone experienced this before??

That is a really stressful situation. I am also in the middle of buying a house and also find it hard to contact the Notaire. I don’t have any experience of your situation but I think there would have to be a new compromis de vente anyway as there will be different sellers after the inheritance is settled. If your heart is set on the house I would agree to the rental contract, move in get back the money from the Notaire asap and enjoy your wedding party. Best of luck.

In your situation I would consulte an independent expert, try, we’ve no ties to them but used the senior partner many years ago when we bought our house here. They’re UK based, we found them excellent, gave superb & correct advice. I don’t know about what they charge but given the situation I think I’d rather spend a little extra now to make sure you don’t loose a lot later. Good luck Carrie & hopefully it’ll all work out for you.

Out of interest which town are you near? We are in 33570.

I haven’t experienced this in terms of house purchase, but know how horribly slow anything to do with inheritance can be. And have also experienced the slowness of many french notaires and the impossibility of them volunteering information. It doesn’t seem to be part of their mind set. So I would be a bit sceptical that this could be sorted with a month. Bit push, push, push. If you are too “British” and wait patiently then nothing could happen for ages so keep up polite nagging.

Have you asked the notaires whether you can go back to your preferred situation? And whether there are now new people involved? As if the 3 remaining sellers will inherit the remaining quarter between them then could still be straightforward. However if that quarter share will now go to other family members it could get complicated. But rental could be the way to go…

If you want to get a bi-lingual lawyer involved then I recommend Guillaume, you can contact him via SF @Guillaume_Barlet-Bat

Best of luck!

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I have a house for sale in Villeneuve (it’s a total fixer-upper),and my husband is selling one in Plassac. I forget what he’s asking for his, but mine is only $60,000.

PS - would venture that the only thing worse than buying aFrench House is selling one - from Canada!!

PM me and I’ll send photos

perhaps you should keep a record of all incurred expenses, including receipts, and deduct the total amount from your offer when the time comes

Friend of mine had exactly the same problem, it all got sorted eventually but took 4 months longer than expected, and that was quick - good luck!

Splendid advice everyone. Sorry been at work but have read everyone and will take on board advice . We can be patient if needs be but what has annoyed us the most is they could have contacted us before we sent the money. We thought the death had only just happened so going over was a complete waste of our time. We could have delayed sending the money instead Notaire took it, I had to even push for an acknowledgement it had been received !!! Talking about alot of money- our life savings. Also if we hadn’t completed by 10 sept WE would have been sued or broken the contract. We will definitely seek legal advice. We already had knocked off money for a quick completion. I know it’s not the sellers fault as they are nice people but fed up they didn’t inform us esp as Notaire is so useless. I suppose we were told before we left France that it would be straightforward and even the sellers said it was good news and it would be quick. Also it’s affecting our relationship as we are so stressed . My partner semiretires at end of oct ready for the move so lots riding on this move and they are going like snails?!

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33350 Gardegan ( hoping to!! )

Very nice area about 5km away.

The wine from Chateau Pitray is very good - they have an excellent open day with up to 20 other vineyard owners in early September each year.

We very nearly bought a house in Gardegan in May this year but we pulled out at the very end (to our cost).

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Yes right near there. We love the peace and quiet and have already met with the Pitray owners.
We live in Essex in the UK but now have to rent coz we thought we would be in the french house by now. I work in Colchester hospital so life is pretty pants at the moment and life is in limbo . Just have to get used to the Notaires ways!!

We were told that having signed the Compromis de Vente, after the cooling of period the only way it could be stopped was by death, mortgage issues or have to pay a penalty.

How inconsiderate of that person to die, tsss tsss.

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I know that can’t be helped and poor person but it was the lack of communication that’s upset us. If everyone knew it was an issue, Notaire and sellers ( brother , sister , mother and niece ) it was the niece that died on 30 Aug and we went on 7 sept and got told on the day we were signing and picking keys up that we couldn’t . If they had halted us before we left uk then we wouldn’t be so stressed about the situation. We had travelled 9 hrs to get to the appointment but yes I agree the death can’t be helped.

Moving house is stressful at the best of times.


We got to the point that the choices were to buy a larger house in the UK or buy a house in France - in the end we decided moving would be much too stressful and went for the latter option.

I think we will wait abit longer and see as realise it’s the inheritance admin that takes forever. The Notaire told us it was straightforward and will be quick , told us 2 weeks but to keep in contact. I suppose we have no trust that they will contact ASAP as the pattern has been awful. As an example : when we were due to sign the compromis we were asked for a suitable date. We said either 18 May or 22 May as we were able to visit France. They agreed 22 May but then we had an email on 17 May to confirm 18 May at 3pm . We were unable to change it so just went. They never answer emails altho they contact me by email asking for details on things like addresses and divorce details etc but then don’t reply when I have questions. Not sure whether this is normal ?

It is normal. Our notaire was a nice guy and spoke good English but his staff were a nightmare. Never answered anything but expected us to. On the day the house sale was supposed to be completed we got a frantic phone call from our agent at 6pm to say that the notaries office had just informed her we hadn’t sent the money so couldn’t complete. We had sent the money ten days earlier and asked for confirmation of receipt. As usual they didn’t reply and so we assumed they had got the money but not replied.
We frantically sent copies of our money transfer to both the agent and the notarie and spent a sleepless night wondering where all our money had gone.
Our son who works in a British bank said, don’t worry it’ll be some clueless clerk who hasn’t looked properly.
He was spot on.
The clerk had looked for our surname and our British transfer company had put my husband’s forename first so not matching his forename with any money she just didn’t bother to look any further. If she had looked for the amount and matched it there would have been no problem. The notaire himself went in next morning found the money and emailed to tell us all was ok.
It’s part of the challenge of embracing a new culture. Look upon it as a little test. If this doesn’t put you off then you’ll be ok. :joy: