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House Buying Tips
Are you selling a House?
French Estate Agents Terminology
Where not to buy - high voltage line
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Print this page out to take with you on your house-hunting trips.

If an agent encouraging you to buy one of his or her houses does not tell you all that is written below they are not looking after you properly. What else are they not telling you? PWT NormandyLife always strives to maintain the highest standards of ethical practice.

Tip 1. Abbreviations - What you see is what you get!
Make sure you understand all the estate agent's abbreviations.

NV Net VendeurWhat the seller will receive
HTHors TaxeThis is the same as Net vendeur, what the seller will receive before tax
FAIFrais d’agence compris   The seller’s price (NV) together with the agent’s fees. For transparency ALL our prices are quoted as FAI prices
TTC  Tout taxes compris or Acte en MainAll taxes and notaire's fees included - the FAI price plus the notaire’s fees . 
 House Buying Tips

Tip 2. Have someone with you who speaks French for the signing of all paperwork! Make sure when you sign both contracts you have someone who speaks French with you as once you have signed it is too late. PWT can help with that - just contact us at info@normandylife.com or on UK number 01273 626 756 or in France 06 19 17 34 61.

WARNING: Do not sign anything unless you understand every word of what you are signing and its implications. It could be a very costly mistake. We hear every single week of poor advice with consequences that will last years and could cost you thousands of pounds.

Tip 3. Get good legal advice and talk about death lots before you sign anything!Example Story: Jane and Patrick were not married and had bought a house together in 1996 in France. Suddenly Patrick died. He left a British will in which he wanted everything to go to Jane. This is NOT POSSIBLE as you cannot disinherit your children. Jane would get something but not everything - depending on how they originally bought the house.

Do not sign anything without getting legal advice - remember the notaire is chosen by the vendor to act for both of you - make sure that he or she has your best interests at heart and understands the consequences of your British needs. If you have any doubts get legal advice. PWT can help with that and put you in touch with good qualified in French and UK law advisors  - just contact us at info@normandylife.com or on UK number 01273 626 756 or in France 06 19 17 34 61.. Doing it on the cheap may cost of you many thousands later on if you made the wrong chose. Ignorance is no defense. This may sound alarmist and draconian - as we have heard so many horror stories.

Tip 4. Do it the French Way 
The British have got themselves a terrible reputation for being unreliable. If you make an appointment and you can't keep it then please cancel it - we waste many hours of valuable time sitting by the side of the road waiting for customers who do not show up.

If you find your dream house and you decide to go ahead and buy it only shake hands with the vendor if you are 100% sure - to back out afterwards not only will destroy your reputation locally, it does nothing for Anglo-French relations.

Tip 5. What to take on a house-hunting expedition
Take gumboots, a good lamp, measuring tape, camera (don't forget to ask to take pictures), a map of the area (you can buy these from us - just click here - Publications )

Tip 6. Always use properly registered workmen
Before engaging any workmen make sure they are properly registered, and go and see examples of their work. Make sure that there is a completion date on the quotation they give you - that’s called a devis - you should agree penalties for late completion.

Remember, if you use workmen on the black, they will not be insured (what happens when they fall off the roof?) and also you will have no receipts (factures) to use either against capital gains when you come to sell or against the 10 year builder's insurance.

Tip 7. Keep all receipts and invoices (factures)
If and when you sell the house you will need every single possible facture (invoice) to offset against the French equivalent of Capital Gains Tax. This is very high in France and reduces on a sliding scale over the years. Make sure that when you buy anything for the house that you ask for a TVA (French VAT) facture with your full name and address written onto the invoice. The laws are changing all the time - you should get good financial advice about the best way to minimize capital gains.

Tip 8. Renting
If you are not sure where you want to buy - why not think of renting for 6 months to a year. PWT has a network of rental accommodation available. This way you will not be rushed into making a choice that you might later regret.

Tip 9. Banking and Mortgages
If you are thinking of buying a house in France there is lots of preparation that you can do. For example, you can open a bank account now so that we the time comes you will have everything in place and there won't be a last minute panic to get the money transferred.

Opening a bank account these days, with all the money laundering preventative procedures in place, is not easy and PWT has links with French banks and can help you with the process.

For help with setting up a bank account with Credit Agricole Britline (French bank account by post manned by British staff) just send us an email including your full postal details and we will send you a pack to info@NormandyLife.com

Tip 10. Foreign Currency
There's no better way to make your money go further that to sign up with a foreign exchange specialist company - but BUYER BEWARE - they are not all the same. PWT works exclusively with Moneycorp because it has the highest credit reference rating, is one of the oldest forex companies in the UK, has excellent rates of exchange which will save you approximately 2,000 euros for every £100,000 (enough to buy a jolly goods garden tractor!), and best of all, the really look after you, the valued customer. You can find out more about Moneycorp's services and sign up at no cost to yourself by hitting these links:

Found out about Moneycorp services and more information|

Sign up with Moneycorp