I am still grappling with paperwork and am batting it away whenever it arrives in the inbox or the letterbox by signing, initialling or putting ‘lu et approuve’ (whether I have read or approved it or not). In no particular order, here is the latest update:
1. Mortgage Broker advises that the bank is almost ready to confirm the mortgage offer – but this is subject to the valuation of the property. Am not too concerned about this as we have not asked for a high LTV ratio (Loan to Value) (am so impressed with myself for learning all these new things)!
2. Solicitor – There are 3 (if not more) options for dealing with the legalities of buying a house. The first is for both parties to use the same notaire (who work for the government and are totally impartial), the second is to appoint your own notaire (who then shares the costs with the vendor’s notaire) and the third option is to do either of the first two options but then in addition, use a UK solicitor who is an expert in french law. We are gone for the third option, in that we are ‘sharing’ the notaire recommended by the vendors (as this notaire dealt with the original sale of the house so has all the relevant documents to hand) but also using a UK solicitor (at additional expense) as our intermediary so all the documents & contracts are sent & received via her. Although we understand the language and the purchase system we felt that as this is a major investment we wanted to get all our facts right regarding french inheritance laws, french wills, purchasing ‘en tontine’ etc. When we purchased our appartement in Perpignan four years ago our family Solicitor recommended a colleague who just happened to have lived and worked in France for several years and she helped us by checking through the Contract for us. I rang "Mrs Double-Barrelled" and explained that we were in the process of buying another property and she was delighted to help (and I would be ‘delighted’ too if I could charge fees like that!). It is good to have somebody I can just forward some of the emails/paperwork to without having to worry about it.
3. Rental of our current appartement – As it is a buyer’s market at the moment it is not a good time to sell, so we have decided to rent it out. The agent came round and explained the pros and cons of renting furnished or unfurnished (details available on most websites!) and we have decided to rent it fully-furnished – mainly because our furniture is very modern and I don’t think it will look right in a house in the country, but also because we get a higher rental and the tenancy can be reviewed annually. The agent noticed a crack in some plasterwork on a beam – in fact he couldn’t fail to see it as the beam is currently supported by some bits of rough timber in case the damage gets any worse! I explained that this had happened when the neighbour upstairs had been particularly heavy-handed while laying floor tiles but that I had struggled to find a tradesman to do the job for me (it has actually been like that for 6 months!) He assured me that this was not a problem as his uncle just happened to be an ‘artisan’ and he would get him round to give me a quote! In the meantime he has given me a rental Mandate to fill in – more paperwork, just what I wanted..
4. Accountant – To avoid any comments in the future of ‘why didn’t you do it this way and save yourself unnecessary tax’ (bitter voice of experience here) I decided to just run the whole idea past our UK accountant. While he is the first to admit that he knows nothing about the french way of doing anything, he has coped admirably with finding the right place to put my french income down on my UK tax return. When I explained how the rental of the appartement would fund the mortgage and that everything would run through our French bank account (and therefore we won’t be troubled by vagaries in the exchange rate) he actually couldn’t find anything wrong with the plan! I bet he’s having sleepless nights now trying to find an error!
So, for the moment, that seems to be everything - I can’t believe how many people are involved, how much time it has taken and how much work I have been doing, but I keep looking at the photographs and realise it will be worth the effort.