Nightmare buying French house

That’s a very insightful way of looking at it. Thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts. Will try not to panic or stress and wait for news. I have only contacted them once in 2 weeks for any news so have left them to contact us.

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Contacting them once a fortnight or so sounds about right, or maybe even every week just a polite tactful note saying something like “Having heard nothing from you since xxx date, and since as you are no doubt aware the unexpected lengthy delay has left us in a difficult position, I’m contacting you to see if there has been any progress”.

Thanks, that sounds good, it’s difficult to gauge it when what you really want is daily updates :weary: what’s making it difficult is the timeline. Before we left for Uk we were told no issues with the inheritance details, very straightforward and would take 2 weeks. Maybe they thought we would pull out if told it was actually going to take months but I would rather know upfront how long these things take.

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Trouble is, things like this are unknowable, it all depends on so many factors that are different in every set of circumstances and beyond the notaire’s control. French successio law is a very specific process, he has to take it step by step and take the top off each tin in turn, and until he does he has no way of knowing what he’ll find inside, whether it’s going to be nice and clean and easy to process or full of worms.
The only answer is to hope for the best and plan for the worst.

Yes I see what you mean, when we visited the office after 2 weeks after original Acte de vente was going to be signed they said they had looked at file and was simple / straightforward and would be v quick, 2 weeks at most. Yes they may have found it to be more complicated but then please give us an update. I will deffo be giving them a gentle nudge every now and again so we are not forgotten. This Friday it will be 6 weeks waiting and we have approached them every time. I will try to be patient.

Dropping this link in here due to relevance :slight_smile:

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It’s not just problems for British buying here and delays. I will briefly tell of a problem that some friends are having. They are Belgians and have a second home here, they have divorced but decided to keep their home here and split their holidays. He was an avocate before he retired just recently and knows French law very well. They have since each found another partner so have decided amicably that one of them sells to the other. No need to go down any complicated route, except that it’s been 3 months since they agreed on a price and they are still waiting for the French notaire to prepare the papers! It amounts to signing over the property but it’s still not been done. They have both been ‘pressing’ the notaire, today should be the signing of the compromis ( astounding that it’s taken this long just to arrive at that point) so if it all goes well today they still have to wait another 3 months before it all goes through!

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Doesn’t surprise me to hear something simple would take ages. We have now learnt to our cost that this is the french way. We made the mistake when we signed the compromis in May of arranging a date in sept rather than going at our own pace. I was going to give 6 months at that stage so we had time to raise the funds but they pressed us to go with 3 months and then we’ve hit this hurdle. We could cope better if they made progress and updated us. We are starting to think unless you nudge them they will just sit on it. Our sellers seem to be in no hurry for their money which is frustrating.

Good link and can recommend Fabien as we have just availed ourselves of his services for our house insurance on our recent purchase…EXCEPT… At no time has the Notaire ever asked to see evidence of this insurance being in place!!!

We only had an Acte to sign (no Compromis) and all during the process in his office, the question of the insurance was never raised. Acte signed and sealed, handshakes all round then a very pleasant walk around Monestiers before champers back at the new home!!!

French bureaucracy moves in mysterious ways…



Thanks for the recommendation. It’s actually good to hear of other people’s experiences good and bad! We have just heard that the EDF man turned up at the property today despite cancelling him once we knew sale wasn’t completing.
Luckily we have the cancellation email!
It was to fit a smart meter !
Anyway we have heard now we can sign next Friday and we were coming across anyway for a weekend. Seller emailed us not the Notaire and said Friday 26 had been agreed which is perfect as we travel and arrive in the morning. We then get an email from the Notaire and says 30 oct would be better for him. I’m back in the Uk for work by then.Won’t even squeeze us in on the Friday or Monday. Getting really hacked off now. I work in a busy hospital so needed back but will have to call in sick as this is so important.
Even after explaining my situation they have suggested another date in Nov :tired_face::tired_face:

Hi Carrie,
If you wish to still buy the house, then I would keep the money with the Notaire. You won’t get much in the way of interest on the funds in the UK and would be subject to fluctuation in the exchange rate.
Regarding the transfer of the French property to next of kin, that could take a while. A friend’s wife died a few years ago and they were owners of a holiday home here. The Notaire here took over a year to complete the paperwork regarding inheritance of part of the property by their daughter.
I think that you might be entitled to the rental cost being deducted from the sale price. If I’m wrong, someone will correct me.
You state the house is a beautiful one and I’m sure that it is. However, France is a place where you will always see a prettier property! You also mention it is a renovation. I’m sure that you have done your homework, but renovations are notoriously expensive unless you can do much of the work yourself. We are looking to move and have looked at three ruins so far that will just be money pits. We also looked at a house that on the face of it looked nice, but on further inspection of the basement revealed quite a lot of woodworm, wet rot and a supporting joist held up with an acro prop. I do know of someone that that a few years ago brought over a container of building materials from the UK. It cost them £2000 for the transport, but saved them £16000 on their build.
Good luck.

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That’s really helpful. We are hoping to do some work ourselves . We have already spotted woodworm in one of the floors!
I agree there are plenty of lovely places. This house is on the edge of a golf course and my fiancé is an avid golfer so perfect location. I do play but can see I’ll have to busy myself doing other things.I’m hoping to run a B&B for the health conscious as unable to work as dietitian in France, otherwise will fly back and forth to UK for work!

One of my best finds here was the local sawmill. Timber there is much cheaper than you can buy in a builders merchants. Plus, if you give the measurements of your project, you pay for what you buy and there is little waste. Sometimes, they will do a deal for cash too! You might be surprised how cheap oak can be.
Extra’s from there can be free sawdust or wood shavings plus cheap firewood in the form of a roll of off cuts 2.4m long totalling about a stere or more for €12!
One of the best buy’s for me was a small tipping trailer (2m x 1.35m) bought new 12 years ago for €750. That equated to £500 at the time. It has paid for itself many times over with trips to the decheterie etc. It’s now rather tatty, but has lots of life left in it. UK prices might be cheaper.

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So update with good and bad news. We were told at short notice that we can sign our Acte de vente on Friday 26 oct as we pushed that we are available this weekend . Now we get an email saying no one in office speaks English on that day and we have to bring a translator. Is this right that we can’t sign without one?? We have already gone through everything and know what we are buying . We know it would be prudent to have someone to help us but Our french is limited .we agreed to go with our sellers Notaire as one speaks good English . They have asked us for name and address of our translator. We have English friends with good french but they are busy . Is anyone fluent and can translate at short notice? We are near Castillion and Notaire is in Pujols near Castillion la Battielle and meeting is at 4pm. We will pay for your time.

Doesn’t have to be fluent but some understanding and doesn’t have to be an official translator !

When we bought our house we only went to the first signing and had power of attorney for the second so didn’t even go to france.
As you say if you have had the compris explained then the Acte de vente shouldn’t be very different. (I wait to be corrected).

Hope you get sorted.

From my recollection of the acte de vente the Notaire has to assure himself that you have understood and do understand the conditions of sale and purchase, including any last-minute variations in or developments of the contract.

Even if he speaks perfect English he will address these in French (as they are rendered in the acte de vente) and, as you aren’t conversant with the language he will need you to have a translator chosen by you, on your own responsibilty for her/his accuracy, not the Notaire’s. This is the law.

It is or can be a slightly intimidating experience as a lot is at stake, and there can be no room for misunderstanding. Our Notaire was very careful and conscientious throughout the whole process, and we are grateful for his professionalism to this day. Hope all goes smoothly and agreeably for you too! :grinning:,


So presumably we gave our notaire permission to act for us?

As I understand the Notaire’s part in proceedings, he acts for both parties with impeccable and irreproachable neutrality, that is the nature of his role, one which is jealously guarded.

He/she ensures that the process configures the law with not the slightest deviation to the detriment of any party to the seller or the buyer, or to other parties who may have past, current or future interest in or title to the property, under French law. It is quite unlike English law, and this is true about much in France, and needs to be taken thoroughly on board by anyone who wants to live here. That’s why I think, this forum is known as Survive France. There’s much to learn and adjust to, and in my own experience the sooner the better.