French mortgages and finding a bargain at a French property auction

Most buyers looking for a property to invest their French mortgage in will find their home through an estate agent. However property auctions can also prove a great way of finding your dream home abroad. Despite only making up a small percentage of sales of French properties, auctions not only cut out estate agent fees but also can be a way to find more unusual properties that estate agents may not want to sell.

However, buyers that do choose to go down the auction route should be wary and ensure they do their research not only on the property, but also the rules of French property auctions. If your French is a little shaky, it may be wise to bring along someone fluent in French to ensure you fully understand what is being said and what you are committing to. Visiting a few auctions before bidding is also worthwhile as you can familiarise yourself with how auctions are run.

French mortgages and vente ála bougie

Although perhaps a little archaic, French property auctions still take place using a procedure known as vente ála bougie or candle auction.

Unlike the seven day cooling off period that is given with a normal sale, once you have made a successful bid at auction, you are legally bound to that property. To begin the auction, a candle is lit by the notaire. When this has gone out a second candle is lit and if there are no further bids, the auction ends. Some auctions will use three candles instead of two and use an electric light instead of a candle.

If you make a successful bid, you have 45 days to pay the full amount for the property. Unlike a normal sale, there is no seven-day cooling off period for you to fully consider your buy. If you are unable to pay, you are liable for the difference between the price achieved in the new sale and that in the first auction.

A French mortgage for your auction bargain

Finding out the details of the property you are interested in is therefore essential. The particulars or cahier des charges are available for each property from the notaire. These should be read carefully to ensure there are no conditions of sale which are not acceptable to you.

On the day of the auction, you need to allow plenty of time to register with the notaire. You will be asked to provide identity papers which can be either your passport or another form of photographic ID. A cheque made out to the notaire for around 20% of the property’s listed price is usually also required and needs to take the form of a banker’s cheque drawn on a French bank.
Buying a French property through an auction can be a way of finding a bargain. However as with most things, research is fundamental to preventing you from purchasing a house that does not meet your expectations.

Choose Conti for your French mortgage

Conti can help you find the right overseas mortgage for your French property. Our French mortgage specialists will help you find a mortgage for France that suits your financial needs. Call one of our French mortgage experts today to find out more about what we can offer you.


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