Buy Land in France - We Provide Legal Advice
Land Registry in FranceUpdated on Saturday 17th December 2022
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Properties in France need to be registered at the French Land Registry. The French tax authorities, namely the French Ministry of Economy and Finance, manage all issues regarding the registration of land in France. The official land registration system is available online and it applies to any urban and rural properties. Our lawyers in France can provide detailed information about the registration process and the necessary documents. We can also assist foreign investors who want to buy land in France and request legal advice for formalities imposed.
The French Cadastre
The cadastre is the official system for land registration in France. Cadastre plans for land and parcels in France are also available at the local mayor or a local notary but the French Government has implemented a system that makes it even easier to view land and building plots by using the official website of the French Cadastre. The cadastral map of France is available online and consists of almost 600,000 plans in image or vector format. Using the website, individuals can search the available maps using the address of the land or building.
The computerised land registry ensures an efficient and secure land registration service. The online version of the French Cadastre allows the user to view land and building plots, measure their area, print the plans or order hard-copy versions. An archive is also available and it may prove useful for interested individuals. Feel free to get in touch with our French lawyers if you want to buy land in France.
Interested in buying a property in France? Our specialists can offer you specialized legal advice to benefit from a simple and fast process. There are no restrictions regarding the acquisition of residential properties, lands, houses, villas, or hotels, as long as they are not owned by the state. The sale-purchase contract is the most important document in this real estate transaction and can be drawn up by one of our French lawyers. All documents will be analyzed to guarantee that you will buy a property without problems.
Functions of the French Land Registry
The French Land Register, also known as the French Cadastre, falls under the supervision of the tax authorities (the French Public Finances Department). The Land Register has several functions, among which we name the following:
- its main function which is that of maintaining information about all the land plots registered in France;
- keeping and updating information on the owners of various types of properties in France;
- registering title deeds for those who purchase real estate in France (including foreign citizens and companies);
- issuing information on existing property titles to parties interested in real estate due diligence;
- providing information on property sale transactions (this function was enabled in 2018).
If you need assistance in accessing the Land Register, our lawyers in France can help you obtain the necessary information. We are here to help you buy land in France.
Information provided by the Land Office System in France
Different tools are available online for individuals who want to obtain information about a specific parcel and the cadastral record. Measurement tools are also available. The plans provided online do not show personal information about the owner. In order to receive information about the properties owned by a certain individual, a request can be made to obtain an extract cadastre. The form can also be obtained at the local land registry office.
Our French lawyers can help you obtain all the necessary information from the relevant French authorities. Before purchasing a property in France, it is advisable to perform a real estate due diligence to ensure that the property is a safe purchase. Please talk to our experts if you want to buy land in France.
Buying real estate in France and registering it with the Land Register
As mentioned earlier, one of the most important roles of the French Cadastre is to maintain all information on property titles updated. This implies for those buying residential and commercial real estate to register the properties with the Land Register after the purchase is completed. Those who want to buy real estate in France will first need to verify the property to be purchased. The search can be completed with the Cadastre when it comes to property title verifications and with the tax authorities for encumbrances.
Once the pre-sale agreement has been signed, the parties must convene the terms of the final transaction and sign the sale-purchase contract. It is important to know that the transaction must be completed before a public notary in France. The notary will verify the legality of the transaction and approve it. Once the property is bought, it is the new owner’s responsibility to register it with the Land Register. Our law firm in France can help foreign citizens purchasing properties here to register them with the Land Registry.
How to register a property with the French Land Registry
The registration of a property in France implies completing a few steps. The first one refers to the registration of the sale-purchase agreement after the parties have signed it. This stage of the procedure is completed by the public notary in front of whom the contract was signed. Before filing the contract, the notary will be required to:
- verify the transaction with the Civil State authority in regard to the seller of the property;
- verify the criminal records of both the seller and the buyer of the French real estate;
- check the validity of the transaction with the regional office of the Land Registry;
- verify the property with the Urban Development Authority and for any mortgages;
- verify the seller with the bank in which the money from the transaction will be deposited.
At the same time, the new owner must pay the fees related to the registration of the property. When it comes to the fees and taxes which need to be considered when buying real estate in France, one should know that the buyer must pay the property registration fee which is now set at 3.6% of the value of the property. Then, the notary fees must be considered which range between 3% and 8%, depending on how old the property is. Other tax which need to be considered is the value added tax which is imposed only on the sale of new buildings at the rate of 20%. There are no VAT charges on properties older than 5 years.
A 1.20% tax of the value of the property must also be paid to the commune in which the real estate was registered. Our attorneys in France can offer more information on the steps which need to be completed when buying real estate, the taxes and fees to pay and the registration with the Land Register. It should be noted that it may take a few months for the property title in its final form to be issued by the Land Registry in France. Would you like to buy land in France? Please get in touch with our specialists.
Buy land in France as a foreigner
As with buying a home in France, foreigners can easily buy land in France as long as it is not state-owned. There are many reasons why foreign investors want to buy land. Some want to make major investments such as residential buildings offered for sale or rent, and others are interested in larger projects such as hotels, shops, malls, etc.
And to get an idea of how to buy land in France as a foreigner, let's review the following aspects:
- The presence of a foreign investor is not necessary for the purchase of land in France. Our French lawyers can handle the formalities instead, with the help of power of attorney.
- Until the purchase of the land, it is necessary to check the existing offers on the market. This can be done by collaborating with a real estate agency and our lawyers.
- Once the land is chosen, the documents held by the seller are checked. Real estate due diligence will reveal if there are legal issues or litigation.
- The seller must provide the buyer with all the history of the land, and if certain documents do not exist, they will be requested from the archives of local institutions.
- The sale-purchase contract will be drawn up after a price offer is made.
- Compromis de vente is a preliminary agreement, a document by which both the buyer and the seller agree on the transaction. The final price will be specified, and the deed will be made at the notary's office.
- It is passed on to the payment of an advance, normally of 10% of the final price of the respective land.
- All the documents of the respective land are sent to the notary who must make extra checks before the actual transaction.
- Deed Authentique is the same as his contract or more precisely the final deed that the buyer will receive. Once signed, the land is paid in full.
- The last step is to register the land purchased to Cadastre or Land Registry in France.
If you would like to buy land in France, we invite you to talk to our lawyer and find out all the details involved. We remind you that we can represent foreign clients with the help of the power of attorney so that they benefit from a simple and fast process.
Avoiding property scams as a foreign buyer in France
Although many checks are made before buying a home or land, there is still the fear that certain properties may be involved in various types of fraud. That is why it is recommended not to act on your own, but to seek specialized legal advice from a lawyer with experience in real estate. This will ensure that he will take care of your case in detail and that he will make the necessary checks in terms of documents, before any type of transaction.
You can also work with a real estate agent who knows the market and the area where you want to buy land. He/she is in charge of prospecting the area so that he can give you a complete report on the property or land. This whole report will also include the prices of the area so that you can find out if you will buy land in France at the right price.
Here's why you should be careful not to fall into the trap of buying a property or land with litigation or other similar issues:
- Ask from the beginning about the prices of the land and make comparisons with those around you, so you can get an idea from the start. If you think the asking price is too high, maybe you should go for another offer.
- Beware of fake owners! This practice is common in the real estate sector and those involved list properties that do not belong to them and do not have access.
- Do not pay a real estate agent in advance and do not offer money to ensure that the property or land you choose will come into your possession. All documents and payments are made only after a notary has given his consent on the respective documents.
- Request a complete report on the condition of the land, risks, litigation, etc. Together with a lawyer in France, you will have the guarantee that the acquisition you are going to make is legally valid.
The real estate market in France
France is one of the most appreciated touristic destinations in Europe which is why it attracts large numbers of foreigners interested in purchasing vacation homes here. In 2018, the French real estate market was quite prolific considering:
- it registered a 1.3% increase in property sales in the 3rd quarter of the year;
- the total increase reported at the end of the year was of 5.8%;
- the property prices also rose by more than 2% during the entire year;
- Paris remained the most expensive city in the country with an average price per square meter of EUR 9,200.
Please contact our law firm in France for any issues regarding real estate.