French Property Specialists

Châteaux & Belles Demeures

The Sifex website is designed to be as user friendly as possible, with the intention that all the information available to us should be readily accessible and easy to view. For someone who is searching for a prestigious property (for example a château, manoir or vineyard), the great benefit of our website is that it provides, in one portal, an extensive selection of some of the finest properties currently on the French market . The beauty of this is that it enables would-be purchasers to have an unbiased overview of what is available, to compare prices in various parts of France, assess what different regions offer in terms of value and architectural styles, and generally it is a very good way for a buyer who is new to the market to 'get their eye in' prior to arranging viewings. You can use the Home page - scroll down to the map area and select the region or department/type etc that you want along with special features like swimming pool and your price range, and this will take you through to a listing that reflects your search criteria. Alternatively you can use the View All/View Latest/View Reduced links to take you through to the different sections as their names imply. Châteaux have their own unique section in the menu at the top as do Belles Demeures and Commercial Properties.
The asking prices listed on our website include the French mandated agent's commission unless stated otherwise. Generally speaking the only exceptions to the rule are vineyards where a net price is quoted; in the details it explains what the price quoted does not include (usually stocks and standing crop), and details the agency commission to be added as well as legal costs, i.e. notaire's fees and taxes.
We operate on a strictly 'share of commission' basis with our French colleagues, so using our services does not involve purchasers with any additional expense. Agency commission in France, which is agreed between the estate agent and the vendor when the mandate is signed, is normally between 5% and 10%. The more expensive properties generally attract a lower rate of commission and vice versa.
In the majority of cases the selling price of a property is quoted exclusive of buying costs, i.e. notaire's fees and taxes.  The transaction costs of buying a property in France are on average between 6% and 8% of the purchase price agreed if the property is more than five years old. The fees are payable in addition to the purchase price at the time of completion ('acte de vente'). These costs or fees cover State and local government taxes, property registration fees (equivalent to stamp duty) and the notaire’s remuneration. If the purchase is being financed by a mortgage, there will be an additional charge from the notaire for registering the mortgage with the Bureau des Hypothèques.  The notaire’s fees are fixed according to a national scale.   Here are links to notaires' sites in French and English to calculate costs. http://www.calcul-frais-de-notaire.fr http://www.immobilier.notaires.fr/jahia/Jahia/lang/en/pid/1
The notaire handles the conveyancing of the property sale and all the searches, as previous described in how the buying process works. They are also responsible for registering a mortgage, should there be one, at the Bureau des Hypothèques, for which there is an additional charge (in the region of 1%).
Once a suitable property is found and an offer/purchase price is agreed between the vendor and the buyer, the buyer signs a first contract, the 'Compromis de Vente', and at this point also pays a deposit which is normally between 5% and 10% of the agreed purchase price.  After both parties have received and signed the 'compromis', there follows a cooling-off period of seven days during which the buyer may change his/her mind and choose to withdraw from the contract without any financial penalty.   The notaire then carries out the conveyancing of the property/legal work relating to the sale, and executes the necessary checks and searches. Upon completion of the notaire’s' preliminary work, a date is agreed for completion of the sale.  Cleared funds for the balance of the purchase must be transferred by the purchaser to the notaire before the final contract can be signed. The final contract, the 'Acte de Vente' is then signed by both parties and the notaire, and ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer.
Two annual property taxes apply in France. Tax rates are determined by local governments and consequently vary in different parts of the country. The taxes are as follows: Taxe foncière is charged every autumn. It is a tax imposed on buildings and land and is payable by the owner of a French residential property.  This tax funds the local services offered by the commune and is determined by the local authority but is collected by the central government tax authority. At the time of the signing of the 'acte de vente', the taxe foncière is split pro rata between buyer and seller by the notaire. Taxe d’habitation is paid by whoever is in occupation on 1st January. It is a local residential tax and payable by the occupier of a French residential property.  The amount payable is determined by the local commune but the tax is collected by the central government tax authority.
If this is the first time you are using the website, it is advisable to create a registration so that in future you can login and have access to the My Sifex section. This allows you to use the viewing basket to save properties that particularly interest you. My Sifex will also give you access to an e-mail alert facility alerting you to properties that match your criteria via a link to the selection. You can modify your search criteria or cancel this option any time you wish. Finally, you can of course enter your record and update your details if you move house, change email or telephone number, etc.
You can save details to your viewing basket in the My Sifex section of the website provided you have registered which is a free service that carries no obligation. There is an abbreviated registration form available for those applicants who are not yet sure of their more detailed criteria.
At Sifex we specialise in arranging sensible itineraries for our applicants, many of whom come from overseas and have a tight schedule in which to view a number of properties that can be scattered over a wide area. The maximum possible notice is advisable, especially in the case of Châteaux as vendors are not always living on the site and may prefer to be present during visits. As long as we are given enough advance warning (preferably at least ten days), appointments can be arranged in a sensible progression to ensure that the itinerary is achievable in the time that is available, provided we know the following: when you are travelling and where to, where you are leaving from and when, whereabouts you will be based and what you want to see.
We have close relationships with experienced mortgage brokers, tax planning experts and bi-lingual lawyers who are extremely well versed in both the tax and inheritance angles of purchasing in France and can also check over the sale contracts for you to ensure everything is in order.
Sifex can put you in touch with experienced professionals who will be able to explain the legal and tax implications of buying property in France.
You will need to check with the notaire in France. Generally is is necessary to have deposited cleared funds in the notaire's bank account prior to signing. As these transactions can take several days it is wise not to leave it until the last minute, otherwise the whole process may have to be put on hold pending the arrival of the funds, at considerable inconvenience to the parties involved (both buyer and seller) if they have travelled some distance. We recommend using currency exchange specialists.
Ever-increasing numbers of foreign buyers are investing in French property and the French way of life.  French property offers excellent value for money in a country renowned for a rich culture and historical heritage, a slower pace of life, an acclaimed gastronomy, a wonderful climate, varied countryside and plenty of space.  France is the world’s number one tourist destination.
If the property you want to sell matches the profile of the Sifex website we will be happy to contact one of our colleagues in France to see if they are able to come and meet you and advise on the likely asking price etc. In due course, we will then list the property on our main site. If the property does not really match the profile of the main Sifex site or is in an area where we do not have a French colleague, it can be listed on the Sifex Private Sales Site (which is about to be re-written). This is devised with the vendors in mind. It is a site on which you can list your property for a fee and not be involved with estate agents or in paying them a commission at all. Uploading the pictures and the description of your property and handling the viewings is entirely the responsibility of the listing vendor.
The Sifex Rental website will be redeveloped in the coming months and will provide a good portal for letting properties in France.
We contact the agents with whom we collaborate on a regular basis to update the status of properties. Properties that are Under Offer or Reduced or Sold will have a flag indicating this in the listing. Inevitably, because it is not a static market, there are instances when vendors who have listed their property with multiple agents do not inform all their agents when they have found a buyer. This kind of anomaly normally comes to light when making appointments to visit a property. If a property goes under offer whilst an applicant is travelling, as very occasionally happens, this is just extremely unfortunate and there is nothing anybody can do to safeguard against such events in an active market.
There is an extremely good French weather site: http://www.meteofrance.com/accueil Unfortunately it does not have an English version but as there are images it is, in some regards, quite self explanatory and the accuracy is also fairly good. On the welcome page there is a drop down menu 'choisir une region en...' to choose a region of France. If you move the cursor over the map of France it tells you the name of the region and shows the minimum/maximum temperature as well. If for example you were to pick the region of Bretagne (Brittany) it takes you through to a map of Brittany and you can also then choose a department from another drop down menu. The forecast appears in the menu for the next six days, and 'tendances jours suivants' shows you what weather is expected on the following four days. If you have a house in France you can put the post code into the little section with an umbrella to discover if they are expecting rain in the hour - very useful! The site also gives access to monthly average rainful/sunshine etc for different departments in France.