A Cool Sure-Fire Investment in the Alps
Avoriaz, an international resort and part of the Portes du Soleil ski area in the Northern French Alps where 148 Leaseback apartments are being renovated and are now available for purchase.
French Property Insider
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,
I paid a visit to my favorite Notaire this week, Stphane Adler of Cabinet Bonnart-Adler, on a quest to get “my affairs” in order. Matre Adler handled the purchase of my apartment four years ago and every International Living-related transaction since. He speaks fairly good English and is very thorough and personable.
First, I wanted to determine what I could do to minimize the inheritance taxes which would be imposed on my daughter should I die and she inherit our apartment — a whopping 20% of the value of the apartment! At the time of the purchase I was not made aware of the inheritance laws. I didn’t realize I could have structured the purchase to a better advantage. Well…live and learn and now here to help you avoid the same situation.
There were two solutions or combinations of solutions that seemed reasonable:
1. Take out a life insurance policy to cover the estimated tax.
2. Make a “gift” of 46,000 euros in value of the apartment to my daughter which is allowable tax free every ten years to reduce the inheritance tax.
Matre Adler outlined the expense for me to make the 46,000 euro gift: 379.50 euros for the Notaire fees, 1262.62 in tax, a total of 1642.12 euros to make the transaction.
After an audible screech, I opted for checking into life insurance by requesting estimates from my French agency as well as my American one to make comparisons. I’ll bet the life insurance wins in value.
The inheritance laws and taxation charts are so complicated that even after years of working with the subject, reading numerous articles (such as the one further down in this issue by attorney Sam Okoshken outlining the laws very clearly) and hearing our conference presenters chart it out for all of us…I still felt the need to meet with the Notaire to look at the numbers and put it into concrete terms.
The second item on my agenda, chez Matre Adler, was to create a French will — important to do if you are a French resident. He estimated that if the American will were translated properly, his time to verify it and register it would be minimal and no more than 200 euros in fees. A translator, such as Pasqual Jacquelin of Delta Translation Services (http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/services/translation.html), charges about .25 euro per word (more or less) and will provide an estimate in advance of doing the translation. I’ll keep you posted on which option is the most effective.
Meanwhile, we’re gearing up for the quarterly Conference Call Sunday, July 11th at 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time…We’re going to be discussing THE FRENCH LEASEBACK: A HASSLE-FREE INVESTMENT WITH A GUARANTEED RETURN. Some subscribers may have missed the last conference call a few weeks ago, so this is your chance to have all your questions answered. Scroll down for the details or visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/confcallinstr.cfm for the instructions on how to call in and be a part of the Q and A session with Jocelyn Carnegie, Miranda Junowicz and me.
Before you call in, be sure to read all about this fabulous opportunity so that you’ll have a good foundation for your remaining questions. It’s further down in this issue of FPI
We hope you’re planning something great for Bastille Day next week…here there will be the annual military parade on the Champs-Elyses, the Fireman’s Balls, and the fireworks at the Trocadero.
Editor, French Property Insider
P.S. Registrations have started for the September 10 – 12 Washington, D.C. Living and Investing in France Conference! For those of you serious about spending more time in France or owning your own little piece of it, we hope you will be a part of this exciting event. Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/LIF_DC/LIF_DC_home.html for more information.
Volume II, Issue 28, July 08, 2004
In this issue:
* The Easiest Property Investment in the World… with a Guaranteed Return
* How to Determine What Property Suits You Best
* Leaseback Q’s and A’s — Get Ready for the Conference Call
* Fields in the Countryside, Discovering Auxy Part II
* Get Smart — Don’t Get Trapped by French Inheritance Laws
* Meet in D.C. and Learn How to Live in France
* Currency Exchange Update
* Hot Property: Great Skiing at Two New Leasebacks in the Alps
* Property For Sale: Living in the 5th Arrondissement Near the RER
* Classified Advertising: Vacation Spots
FPI Subscribers: To read the issue in its entirety go to
To access this password protected page: username: fpiuser and the password: paris1802.
THE FRENCH LEASEBACK: A HASSLE-FREE INVESTMENT
By Miranda Junowicz and Jocelyn Carnegie
For many investors it is a wise choice to consider a leaseback. It is a hassle-free investment with guaranteed rental income return and good appreciation value potential.
The leaseback arrangement has been in place for 20 years. Many of the owners through the program are repeat customers who saw solid returns and came back for more. There are a number of different developments happening at any one time from which to choose. The sites for these development projects are selected specifically on the basis of growth potential in the various regions around France, and in select areas of Italy, Spain and Morocco. In general, tourist regions of France have enjoyed tremendous growth in real property values over the past year, in several areas up to 20% or more.
The most important criteria for success is that you identify what your objectives are for this investment and what is your particular situation: age, marital status, intention to ever live in France, inheritance considerations — all dictate what is best for you and that you find a property that meets those needs. There are a variety of different leaseback properties and a variety of ways in which you can structure your purchase. All of those things must be considered so that you make the investment in a manner that works best for you.
There are several leaseback brokers in the French market to help you locate the right property for you throughout the leaseback marketplace. Since properties move quite quickly once they are released on the market, if the right investment isnt available now it could be on hand to get your purchase locked in quickly when something comes on the market that meets your criteria.
Once you have selected the property, a deposit of 5% of the total price (price plus tax) is required to a designated escrow account to reserve the property during the closing process, and non-refundable 300 euro processing fee goes to the broker. You will submit a detailed personal information sheet which begins the process of getting the documents to you for the lease agreement, purchase agreement, and mortgage application. From the moment of your reservation, the process takes between 45 and 90 days to close.
For a look at some of the leaseback properties that are currently available, visit
http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/sales/leasebacks/. The list is by no means exhaustive and is constantly changing. If there is something in particular that appeals to you there, please do not hesitate to email us at email@example.com
IDENTIFYING YOUR DREAM LEASEBACK PROPERTY INVESTMENT
In order to identify what properties will best suit your needs or tastes, ask yourself the following questions:
* How long are you interested in holding onto the properties?
* Do you have a preference between buying one property for the full amount, or several properties in different locations?
* Do you want sun? ski? city locations? Would you consider a leaseback outside of France? (Currently there are projects in Morocco, Spain, and Italy, that enjoy a guaranteed income but no VAT return.)
* Do you want use of the property yourself? If so, do you want to commit to a certain number of weeks a year, or would you rather receive a simple discount on the rental price? (If you take a few weeks for personal use, this lowers your guaranteed rental income returns.)
* Are you more interested in putting as little down as possible, or in having the income from the property to cover your mortgage payments? This will help us figure out exactly what value of properties is your target, and what type of borrowing structure will work best for you.
* What amount do you have available to invest — that is, all inclusive for a down payment, closing costs and fees, etc.? To the extent that you want to put down as little as possible and cover the remainder of mortgage payments each year, how much would you have each year to contribute to making those payments?
* how much are you able/would you like to borrow? Please keep in mind that the banks will loan you only up to an amount where your annual payments will not exceed 30% of your annual net income (that is, gross income minus taxes and any other loans or mortgages you carry).
* Will you want to hold the properties in your person or as a corporation of sorts? If you are unsure of the answer, we can talk about how to figure out what’s best for you in that regard.
* There are certain tax advantages associated with holding more than approximately 450,000 euros worth of leaseback properties. Is this a level you would consider or would be able to reach on leaseback investments?
LEASEBACK… THE FAQ’s
Q: How many leaseback properties are on the market at any one time?
A: There are about 30 different developments on the market at any one time across the whole of France. The properties — particularly smaller priced units (70,000 to 100,000 euros) with the best returns — are in the more popular tourist destination areas and sell quite quickly.
Q: Can I buy any property and have it registered as a leaseback?
A: No. Only certain projects are certified as Leaseback projects.
Q: When can I sell the property?
A: Any time you like. If you sell before the lease is up (most leases are 9 years, but they vary, up to 12 years), your sales price will reflect the fact that the buyer will take possession subject to the remaining lease. In addition, there are certain tax advantages to holding the property for up to 15 years (no capital gains tax in France) and up to 20 years (no VAT tax payback). Leasebacks should really be viewed as a long term investment option.
Q: Is the guaranteed return net of all expenses?
Q: What will the cost be at closing?
A: For new builds (or for all the improvements on an older property) closing costs and fees are about 3.5%; for older properties being refurbished, you can figure between 6-7% closing costs and fees. If you take a mortgage, there is an additional 2.5% mortgage registration fee based on the amount that you borrow, regardless of whether the property is new or refurbished. Thus, you should calculate about a 9% closing cost for renovated older properties, about 5.5% for new properties (or, properties so renovated that they are considered “new” by the tax authorities). Otherwise, if you want to have a full legal consultation to walk you through the closing process, or if you want to create a company to hold
the property, you will incur additional costs.
Q: How do I know that the development company is reputable?
A: The companies we work with have been marketing these developments for many years with some of the largest and most experienced developers in France. French law requires each developer to take out a very expensive insurance bond, which guarantees completion of the project in accordance with contractual obligations.
Q: Who is the management company?
A: The management companies involved in these projects are primarily large hotel or tourist residence management companies, also with substantial expertise. One major company is a subsidiary of a leading French bank, BNP Paribas; another is ‘Hotels de Paris,’ the largest hotel management firm in Paris. The management company has a yearly inspection by the French state to verify its standards of quality.
Q: When do I get the VAT back?
A: Usually after 3 to 6 months. Sometimes immediately, and sometimes you dont ever have to pay it, depending on the bank, the type of loan you take, and the property.
Q: Is financing available?
A: Yes. Because the lease you enter into with the management company is commercial in nature, not all banks will lend for leaseback purchases, but several banks do, and you have a variety of loan packages you can choose from. Depending on the location of the property and the bank, you may be able to get a loan of up to 80% of the TTC price (that is, the price plus tax). Currently, fixed rates are available at about 4.6 to 4.8%; variable at 3.6% with a 2% cap on the rate increase.
Q: Can I visit a leaseback property before I purchase?
A: Yes — but in most cases, you will be visiting a building site, not a building. Most leaseback properties are sold “off plan” — that is, before they have been built. Some properties are renovation projects or sold “ready to rent;” in those cases you could see more before purchasing if you wish.
Q: What happens if the management company is not able to rent the property?
A: That is the management companys problem, not yours: your income is guaranteed and will not fluctuate with market conditions, good or bad.
Q: What happens after the nine year lease is over?
A: in some cases the management company has a right to renew for a further period of 3, 6 or 9 years. If they choose to renew but you would prefer not, in those cases you will have to pay an indemnity to get out of the lease. In other cases, the lease is over at the end of the first period and you and the management company might choose to renegotiate a new lease, but you are not forced to do so. You will not be able to get out of the lease before the end of the first (usually nine year) term.
Q: How much personal use can I have?
A: Some projects do not offer any personal use, however, most include at least two weeks and some more. If you want to have more personal use, your guaranteed income return rate will be less.
Q: Can I invest in Leasebacks through my IRA: account (for U.S. taxpayers)?
A: There is nothing in principal forbidding this, although of course it is best to consult your accountant or legal advisor to ensure that it is right for your situation. IL works with several attorney specialists who can give you an individual evaluation on this issue as well.
In general, property held through an IRA: account cannot be for the personal use of the owner. Thus, you would be safest purchasing a leaseback option that included no personal use of the property, so as to avoid any ambiguity and risk violating the rules governing your IRA: account. When you choose a package that includes no personal use, you enjoy a higher guaranteed rental income than a package with personal use, so this might be the more favorable arrangement for you anyway.
Q: Is there someone who can help me through the process?
A: If you choose to work with a property consultant, such as our property consultants, our team will see you through the entire process, from selecting and optioning the property, to obtaining financing, through to closing. We also make available to you a host of complementary services, including translation services, legal and tax advice, corporate structuring, etc. IL will help you define what you are looking for in terms of type of property, return, down payment, etc., and then help you to identify the right properties for you. If they are not on the market now, since properties move quite quickly once they hit the market, having your search on hand will help us to get in touch with you quickly when something comes on the market that meets your criteria.
Q: What is the buying process once I have selected a property?
A: Once you have selected the property, you will send a deposit of 5% of the total price (price plus tax) to a designated escrow account to reserve the property during the closing process, and a 300 euro non-refundable 300 euro processing fee to the broker. You will submit a detailed personal information sheet which begins the process of getting the documents to you for the lease agreement, purchase agreement, and mortgage application. From the moment of your reservation, the process takes between 45 and 90 days to close.
Q: What if I dont want to use the developers notaire — how do I find my own?
A: The notaire on the development is not a lawyer who gives advice to either side of the transaction. Rather, the notaire simply records and verifies the information. The notaire on any particular development is intimately familiar with that project and doing the transaction through him will allow the process to go most smoothly; introducing a second notaire is often the cause of delay as the notaire must familiarize himself with this development — and often with this “type” of development, if he is not already familiar with the leaseback program.
If what you are looking for is legal advice — that is, personalized advice from a lawyer about the transaction itself, the implications for you on tax and other issues, you need a lawyer, not a notaire. IL works closely with one lawyer here in Paris (a New York lawyer whos been here for 30 years) who has a keen understanding both of the leaseback investment and of financial and legal questions of concern to Americans investing and living in France.
Q: Can I setup a French bank account?
A: This process is simple and is taken care of as part of the closing and loan process with the bank that lends you the money.
Q: How do I get this process to move forward?
A: The best would be to answer the general questions asked above, and to take a look at some of the properties that are currently available, on the IL Paris website at http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/sales/leasebacks/.
Q: What is the minimum I will need for a down payment?
A: The answer here varies from property to property and from bank to bank. As a general rule, for properties located in most of France, you will need at minimum 84% of the HT (without tax) price as a down payment. For properties in the Alps, you can lever
age up to 95% of the HT price, by borrowing against the TTC price (the price plus the tax which you will get back from the government). These figures are based on the purchase of a new property, on which you get the 19.6% VAT tax returned to you. In addition, you will have closing costs of about 5-6%. For new properties, the VAT return will be lower (the tax is paid, and therefore returned, only on the refurbished portions of the development), and the closing costs will be higher (probably closer to 9%).
Q: How much can I / should I borrow to finance the property?
A: Again, this varies for different properties. You will basically need to decide whether you want as little up front costs as possible (all told can be as low as 10% of the purchase price) or if you want your income to cover your mortgage payments. The lowest possible down payment is achieved by borrowing 70-80% against the “full price” — that is, price plus tax — of the property, and having the 19.6% VAT refunded to you, thus lowering further your down payment. Where the VAT refund is less, the amount you end up with as a down payment will obviously be more.
However, with this scenario, ordinarily you will not make enough income to cover your mortgage payments. In order to cover your mortgage payments, figure on ending up with a down payment of at least 25%.
Please keep in mind that the banks will loan you only up to an amount where your annual payments will not exceed 30% of your net income (that is, gross income minus taxes and any other loans or mortgages you carry).
Q: What is the exchange rate between dollars and euros?
A: Obviously this rate fluctuates day to day; it is currently at about $1.23 to 1 euro.
To help you better understand the numbers, following is a scenario involving the purchase of a 100,000 euros new property (thus VAT tax back of 19.6%) with a guaranteed income of 5% a year:
Guaranteed income: 5,000 euros/year (417 euros/month); indexed to inflation (approximately 2 to 3%/year)
Closing Costs: 5500 euros
VAT refund: 19,600 euros
— If you would want your mortgage payments covered by your income:
At Variable Rate for 20 years (3.7%; this loan has a cap of +2%):
Amount of Loan: 70,000 euros (70% loan)
Payments: 5015 euros/year (418 euros/month)
Down Payment & Closing Costs: 38,106 euros
After VAT refund: 18,506 euros
— At Fixed Rate for 20 years (assume 4.7%):
Amount of Loan: 65,000 euros (65% loan)
Payments: 5084 euros/year (424 euros/month)
Down Payment & Closing Costs: 42,981
After VAT refund: 23,381 euros
Please remember that the income is adjusted for inflation each year by about 2%. This means you could plan to break even on income and mortgage payments a few years down the road instead of immediately, and thus leverage more.
To have as small a down payment as possible:
To have the smallest down payment possible, you will want a property in the Alps, where you can borrow up to 95% of the value of the property. Elsewhere in France, you can borrow up to 84% of the value of the property. Either such loan will be against the TTC price of the property (VAT inclusive price); thus you are borrowing more than if you simply borrow against the HT price (exclusive of VAT). The below scenario assumes a property in the Alps.
Amount of Loan: 95,680 euros (96% loan)
Down Payment & Closing Costs: 32,818 euros
After VAT refund: 13,218
Variable Rate for 20 years (assume 3.7%; this loan has a cap of +2%):
Mortgage payments: 6855 euros/year (517 euros/month)
Fixed Rate for 20 years (assume 4.7%):
Mortgage payments: 7484 euros/year (624 euros/month)
EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re going to discuss the Leaseback Scheme at length Sunday July 11th during the quarterly French Property Insider Conference Call. Scroll down for more information or visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/confcallinstr.cfm for the details.
AUXY: PART II, THE CHANGING FIELDS
By SG Sguret
Of months, my favorite in Auxy is June, when the poppies are in bloom. Just preceding are the months of colza, or rape, that brilliant yellow mustard flower that wakes up the countryside to springtime. I have often flown into France in late March when the fields are a crazy-quilt of yellow colza and the green of freshly-sprouted wheat, bordered by the blue of rivers and seas. And my heart has sung with these simple colors, so gentle to the soul. Monet’s table settings were of these hues, and my own are of the same. Peace is on our plates.
But the cool colors give way in May to the first fiery explosion of poppies. By June the fields are overtaken by them, and they stretch gaily to the edge of the eye. Up close they are delicate, petals thinner than onion skin, dancing in the tiniest breeze. Their hairy stems are comical in contrast to the legerity of their flower. I have tried making a bouquet of them, bringing them in to animate my house, but they droop in captivity, petals falling, sighing, to the table. They are field flowers. They radiate under open skies. And the bluer the sky, the redder their taint until, if I look at them any longer, I shall explode in color with them!
Simultaneous with the poppies, bloom the fields of flax. A modest plant, hardly more than a foot high, its flower is an astonishing shade of blue. Picture the clearest, bluest eyes you have ever seen. Or the sky on a day that speaks perfection. Then, a whole earth-bound field of that color, with a sky of the same above it. And if you are really lucky, there will be a stray poppy standing against the flax, balancing on the edge, daring to be different. I would like a suit in linen, dyed the color of flax blossoms, with a sash woven of poppies and a hat the color of the sun.
June gives way to July and the wheat turns from green to gold. Fields of sugar beets droop in the relentless sun. Even the sunflowers try to hide their faces from that big golden monster. Great stretches of hemp, taller than my head, perfume the air with the penetrating odor of marijuana. I am assured, when I ask the farmers, that the plants are employed only in the making of rope. Auxy’s young generation has not had enough botany to recognize the leaves, and I am too
far from the teens to be tempted.
Driving south of Pithiviers, I have run into fields of pale raspberry pink. These are opium, and are cultivated to be sold to pharmacies. From this combination of flora, the bees of the Gatinais make their honey, which is marketed in Pithiviers under a specially controlled label. Last but not least, saffron is reappearing in the Gatinais. Last century, saffron was the area’s principal cash crop, and of the highest quality in the world’s production. The flowers of the autumn crocus must be picked daily by hand, and the stigmas dried with great care, many, many of them to produce a gram’s weight. In our century, Orientals are the only ones with the patience to carry out this meticulous labor. But as a century dawns again, the reputation of the Gatinais saffron is still alive, there are those who have taken up the old art again. Today, for one hundred and thirty francs (nineteen euros, or twenty-six dollars), you can buy a few grams of this precious ingredient to spice your sauces and flavor your rice. I have reserved a corner of my garden in which to plant bulbs for my own modest harvest. Next year I shall see how vigilant one must be to gather the riches of this red-gold dust.
The vines which once graced our hillside now are few. But tracings still remain to remind us of a time not long ago when transportation was much simpler than today. Now we have easy access to the burgundies and wines of the Loire, not far away. As simple to find are the wines from Bordeaux, Alsace, Champagne, Provence, the Cotes du Rhone, Juras, Alps. With sparkling cider from Normandy and eaux-de-vie from every region, we are not likely to go thirsty. Nor, with all the great chefs at our elbows are we likely to suffer famine. The French people will not allow time to completely erase the great traditions, even if they must wade through lean moments. Days and nights will always revolve around hours spent at producing just the right ambiance. The green fields of France (and the red and the yellow and the blue and the pink) are the source of our pleasures; our past and our present.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Writer, musician, mother of three children, Susi Gott Seguret moved to France in 1989, drawn by the spirit of tradition, which reminded her of her rural Appalachian upbringing. A quest for quality linked with simplicity led her, accompanied by her French husband, to a life in the wheat-belt, a hundred kilometers south of Paris. Fifteen years later, she has become a master gardener and French cook, and continues to write and to play acoustic country music across Europe and America. For further details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org/ or 06.80.54.89.72.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Susi Gott and the Paris Cats will be playing July 10th at the Mirande Country Music Festival, July 9 – 14, 2004. Visit
http://www.country-musique.com/ for more information.
BEATING THE FRENCH INHERITANCE LAWS
By Samuel H. Okoshken
So, what is the big to-do about forced heirship? Anglo-Saxons (Americans included) rail against the forced heirship rules, as they interfere with the freedom they are used to under the common law system. That, then, is the dark cloud. How can we make it go away, or at least soften its effect?
The SCI. For non-residents, purchase of the real property through a “Socit Civile d’Immobilire,” a French real estate holding company known as an SCI, will avoid the forced heirship rules completely. Technically speaking, you are considered as owning the shares of the SCI rather than the real property owned by it. For non-residents, company shares do not fall into the forced heirship sphere of influence. The black cloud has magically disappeared. You are free to will the property to whomever you wish. (N.B., ownership of property through an SCI does not exempt you from the French inheritance tax.)
Interesting pointer: Even a French resident may decide to use an SCI to hold real estate, but for other reasons, such as easier division of the real estate later on, through gifts of shares of the SCI to children, etc. The cost of setting up an SCI is not high and will give a non-resident the peace of mind from knowing that your overall estate plan will not be disturbed by the addition of French real estate as one of your assets. While it is possible to transfer property already owned to an SCI, there are transfer taxes and notarial fees involved.
Tontine Clause. The use of a “tontine” clause in the real estate deed has the effect of postponing the interest of children until the death of the second spouse. Legally speaking, such a clause makes the survivor the sole owner of the property as if he or she owned it all from the outset. It is a legal fiction that avoids the forced heirship rules as well as inheritance taxation at the death of the first co-owner. Use of it should be carefully considered, as it cannot thereafter be changed and, for example, if you later get divorced, the survivor of the former couple gets all!
French Will. Let’s assume you are a resident of France or, if a non-resident, for one reason or another you do not own the French real estate through an SCI. We know that your children acquire legal rights in the real estate at your death. Is that good news or bad news? Good for the kids, certainly. But not so good for your surviving spouse. Is there some way to turn bad news into good? Where there’s a will, there’s a way. You could leave your spouse’s residual interest to her in the form of a “usufruct” in the entire property. In that way, she may inhabit the property rent-free or else rent it out and enjoy the rental income, or even leave it dormant. It’s hers to use as she sees fit. What she cannot do with a usufruct interest is sell the property or use it as collateral for a loan (mortgage), as the underlying title to the property belongs to the children. So, bequeathing the residual to your wife as a usufruct does not change the fact that the children own the property, but does suspend their use and enjoyment of the property during your spouse’s life.
A usufruct is only one way to offer your wife the maximum use of her residual rights. A more common practice is to grant her an election in your will, exercisable at your death, to take her residual interest in one of three ways: (1) a “usufruct” interest, as explained above; (2) the entire residual interest outright, or (3) take 25% of the property outright plus a usufruct interest in the rest. Granting her the election is useful for two reasons. First, it gives as much latitude to her as one can in France to decide, once you are gone, what is best for her; and second, it may assist in tax planning – she and the children would have more freedom to decide which of th
e three choices is most advantageous from an overall tax point of view – looking at the property holding over both lives.
You may be thinking that the second election above is not workable in a real estate setting. For example, say you have two children, and your spouse’s residual interest is therefore one-third. How can she “take” her residual interest? Good question. The answer is: (a) she could force a sale of the property and take her one-third of the proceeds, or (b) the children can buy her out – which they would do if they wanted to keep the property, or (c) exchange their interest in other property of your estate for her remainder interest, or (d) if you were residents of France at the time of your death and had originally purchased the property through an SCI, by electing one-third outright, your spouse would wind up owning one-third of the shares outright, i.e., be an equal shareholder with the two children. (The reason “d” would not be relevant for non-residents is that, as stated above, the use of the SCI would avoid the forced heirship rules altogether!)
Change of marital status. A more sophisticated approach to delaying the interest of your children until your wife’s death is to change the property arrangement governing your marriage officially to the contract of universal community property. The effect of this is the same as the tontine arrangement discussed above, but requires far more consideration and cost (as the contract must be done before a French Notaire). It is not discussed here any further except to say that for French residents it is a viable way of frustrating the forced heirship rules and should be explored.
Keep in mind that what we are referring to in this section when we speak of an interest in “your property,” is the portion of the property that you owned at your death. So, if you and your spouse purchased the property jointly or if your marriage was a community property marriage, your spouse may already own one-half of the property. In that case, at your death, the “property” to which your spouse’s remainder interest relates is your half. In the example above, she would already have owned one-half. If she elected #2 – to take one-third, then her total interest in the entire property would be 50% + 1/3 of the other 50% = 66.67%.
If you were a non-resident when you purchased real estate through an SCI, and became a resident later on, remaining so until your death, the forced heirship rules would apply to your global property including the SCI shares. This underscores the idea that the use of an SCI to avoid the forced heirship rules does not work for French residents. Even if the strategy would have been effective had you remained a non-resident, your later change of status would in a sense retroactively reverse that plan.
That brings up the question of who is a resident for purposes of the forced heirship rules. As we will see when we discuss French inheritance tax, longevity or brevity of presence in France might affect whether you are taxable on non-French-based assets. The same is more or less true in matters of forced heirship rules. If it is clear from the facts and circumstances that you intended to leave France within a short while, there is a chance that the authorities (i.e., the Notaire who handles your French estate) will accept that your non-French estate does not come within the purview of the forced heirship rules. But, this is indeed a “grey area” as it does indeed turn on how the facts fall out and how they are presented to the Notaire.
Remember this: Except where there is a minor involved, the only ones who can raise a claim to a forced heirship right is the person who has such right. In many if not most families (families with children of a prior marriage are usually an exception), the children will want to allow their surviving parent to do with the property as she or he sees fit, so will not try to assert their rights over the property (or may do so only for tax purposes – discussed in another section). This point is especially important to keep in mind for those who have family trusts – either inter vivos trusts (revocable living trusts) or testamentary trusts (which will come into being at your death). In America and Britain, the rules set forth in a trust agreement are inviolate. You can decide which how much and when a particular beneficiary will come into their interest in your estate.
If State laws in the U.S. tend to favor and protect, any class, it is the wife. The French forced heirship rules may be the fly in the ointment of a carefully thought-out estate plan, even one that existed when you become a French resident. Despite the iron-clad terms of a trust agreement, there have been cases where children have pressed their claim under French law for their guaranteed interest and they have insisted that it be granted to them now, contrary to what the terms of the trust might provide. So, if you wish to buy French real estate and hold it in your family trust, whether or not you are a French resident, the effect of the forced heirship rules must be carefully considered.
Possible Exception to the Forced Heirship Rules. Particularly applicable to those of you who are planning to become residents of France, and to some extent even if you already are a resident, it may be possible to circumvent the forced heirship rules, certainly with respect to your non-French property. A special form of U.S.-based trust may be available to accomplish this. The concept is new and cannot be discussed in detail in this format.
Caveat and disclaimer. The forced heirship rules are complex and “fraught with peril.” I have tried here to present the subject in a way that will alert you to some of the major pitfalls. However, nothing contained in this article should be construed as legal advice and you are strongly urged to seek competent professional assistance before taking any steps discussed herein.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Samuel H. Okoshken, an American, is a U.S.-educated tax lawyer, and has been practicing law in Paris since 1974. His practice is devoted to the various legal and tax problems of Americans and other foreign “Expats,” and to the issues that non-residents of France encounter when contemplating buying property or setting up business in France. He will be speaking at the upcoming Living and Working in France Conference in Washington, D.C. this September (http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/LIF_DC/LIF_DC_home.html) His website is: http://www.okoshken.com.
Mark your calendar for the exciting upcoming conferences sponsored by the International Living Paris Office!
Living and Investing in France
September 10 – 12, 2004
Dinner and Virtual Tour of Paris with Thirza
Walking Tour of French-Speaking DC
LIF_DC Walking Tour
Single in the City of Light
(And Loving It!) with Adrian Leeds
LIF_DC Single in the City
Reservations and information: If you’d like to know more about this conference or reserve your place, email Schuyler Hoffman email@example.com/parlerparis
Working and Living in France
** Read what our past participants have to say about our Paris Office
Conferences and Tours…
Reservations and information:
If you’d like to join us at any of these, drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org/parlerparis and we’ll be sure to email you as soon as we have more information. Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/liveinfrance/index.html
Schuyler Hoffman, Special Projects Manager
Toll Free in the U.S. 1-877-IL PARIS (1-877-457-2747)
TODAY’S CURRENCY UPDATE
Rates as of 2004.07.08 17:17:38 GMT.
1 U.S. Dollar equals 0.806665 Euros (0.831833 Euros last week)
1 Euros equals 1.23967 U.S. Dollars (1.20216 Dollars last week)
1 U.K. Pound equals 1.49709 Euros (1.52300 Euros last week)
1 Euro equals 0.667963 U.K. Pounds (0.656597 Pounds last week)
SEEKING A MORTGAGE IN FRANCE?
The International Living Paris Office can help you secure a mortgage
in France with interest rates as low as 3.35%.
Visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/loan for more
information or contact us
FOR SALE: FPI HOT PROPERTY OF THE WEEK
Each week French Property Insider features a range of properties which we believe are on the market at the time of writing. These properties are featured in order to give readers a sample of what is currently available and a working example of prices being asked in various regions of France and districts of Paris.
We are not a real estate agency. These properties do not constitute a sales listing. For those readers seriously interested in finding property in Paris or France, you can retain our services to assist you. For more information, visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html or contact Jocelyn Carnegie at email@example.com
*** LEASEBACK ON THE FRENCH ALPS, AVORIAZ/PORTES DU SOLEIL, RESIDENCE DOUCHKA
Avoriaz is an international resort and part of the Portes du Soleil ski area in the Northern French Alps (650km of ski runs), where 148 apartments are being renovated and are now available for leaseback purchase.
Average Layouts and Prices Being Offered:
57 studios sleep 4 people 21.8 / 26.1 m2 living space 75000 Euros HT
81 one bedrooms sleeps 4 people 24.9 / 26.4 m2 living space 110000 Euros HT
10 one bedroom cabins sleeps 6 people 34.3 / 39.6 m2 living space 210000 Euros HT
WELCOME TO AVORIAZ, A LEADING SKI RESORT
The history of Avoriaz is intimately connected to the history of the French Alps. Its architectural design in harmony with an impeccably maintained natural landscape, the absence of cars in the village, and its direct access to the huge complex of the Portes du Soleil ski runs, have never failed to seduce a demanding clientele in winter as well as in summer. An investment here is the security of a top-class and especially secure investment.
Up to 4.5% Guaranteed Rental Income
Ski Lifts – 100 meters with unobstructed views of the ski slopes
Geneva International Airport – Approximate Driving Time 60 minutes – 80 Kilometers (50 Miles); or can travel by train directly from the airport
Aero Ski Bus provides services from Geneva International Airport to the French ski stations.
A PRESTIGIOUS SKI RESORT WITH WORLDWIDE FAME
Contemplate the spectacular mountain views of the Falaise. La Falaise is the most beautiful sight in Avoriaz, and here sits the Douchka Residence, one of the best situated residences in the entire resort. Each property enjoys breathtaking balcony views and full southern exposure. The units offer a genuine feeling of comfort and allow its guests a relaxed rhythm of life. The sensible use of wood, in keeping with the tradition of the resort and its surroundings, adds to the warm atmosphere, along with lively color and shades in the interior decoration. Complimented by modern equipment, the properties give the most in both comfort and practicality.
AN EXCEPTIONAL HOME AWAY FROM HOME IN THE FALAISE DISTRICT OF AVORIAZ
This family resort is situated in the Haute-Savoie, in the heart of the “Portes du Soleil” area. In the Children’s Village, leisure activities are available for all ages, including horseback riding courses, tennis lessons and other activities. There is entertainment for adults in both the day and evenings. All the guests take a dip in the outdoor heated swimming pool. The perfect location for hiking and mountain biking on the marked trails, the resort also has restaurants, bars, a pub, and discotheque on site, as well as two cinemas. Also on site are the 9-hole golf course, beach volleyball, two squash courts, tennis, paragliding, bowling, miniature golf, rock climbing walls, a skate park, and basketball . This area also features a Mountain Bike Challenge the last weekend in June, two “Sorcerer’s Apprentice” weeks in July, and two “Open Sky” weeks (one in July and one in August), when hundreds of flying kites fill the sky. All the shops and services are located in the center of the resort. Best of all, the resort is a totally traffic-free zone.
REKNOWNED FOR ITS ORIGINAL ARCHITECTURE
Avoriaz is renowned for its original architecture. Both the one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments feature a living room with one or two single sofa sleepers and a pullout bed. A fully equipped kitchenette includes a cook top, refrigerator, mini-oven, dishwasher, and coffee maker. All apartments have a balcony with a view of the resort or the surrounding mountaintops.
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
More photos and details at http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/sales/leasebacks/alps_douchka/alps_douchka.html
*** Leaseback on the French Alps, La Plagne, Residence Quartz
DELIVERY IN DECEMBER 2004
Up to 4.5% Guaranteed Net Rental Income
Average Pricing and Sizes:
Studios accommodating 2 – 3 people with 21m2 to 29m2 plus balconies priced Euro 110,000 HT
1 bedroom flats accommodating 4 people with 27m2 to 32m2 plus balconies priced Euro 130,000 HT
2 bedroom flats accommodating 6 people with 41m2 to 50m2 plus balconies priced Euro 215,000 HT
3 bedroom flats accommodating 8 people with 54m2 to 60m2 plus balconies priced Euro 270,000 HT
A BOOMING AREA WITH GREAT POTENTIAL
Set high in the magnificent Savoie French Alps, dominated by the mighty Mont Blanc, La Plagne is one of the most famous and exciting high altitude ski areas in the world. Linked to Les Arcs by the new Vanoise Express lift (since December 2003), the new “Paradiski” area offers 425kms of downhill ski trails. One of the first downhill ski resorts in France, La Plagne is comprised of ten ski locales, each self-contained with shops, restaurants, ski schools and childrens village and entertainment, and each with direct access onto the ski area. These villages are well-connected by gondolas and/or bus services that run between them.
PLAGNE 1800 is the old mining village of La Plagne, now transformed into a village of beautiful chalets full of character and charm. PLAGNE CENTRE is the main and liveliest village of La Plagne with plenty of bars and restaurants. Just above Plagne Centre is the village of PLAGNE SOLEIL. Both villages have easy access to the ski slopes. PLAGNE VILLAGE is the newest addition to La Plagne, a small and peaceful village with low, attractive buildings that are all ski-in ski-out. PLAGNE BELLECOTE has quick and easy access to Belle Plagne and skiing. Bellecote also offers a great outdoor swimming pool and ice rink. BELLE PLAGNE is a charming, traffic-free village with immediate access to the slopes and the point of departure for the gondola to the glacier.
THE LA PLAGNE ENCLAVE
The La Plagne enclave is a site made up of ten resorts, each distinguished from the others by its own special architectural personality. All offer a full range of sports and leisure activities, enabling visitors to enjoy all the mountain pleasures with their skis still on. This panoramic ski zone, known as Paradiski2, combines the attractions of two outstanding sites, La Plagne and Les Arcs, which offer 250 slopes, ski-accessible glaciers, and two peaks over 3,000 meters high.
THE IDEAL ALTITUDE
With its characteristic architecture reminiscent of the chalets of Savoy, Residence Quartz combines all the charm of a ski resort with a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Its high altitude boasts magnificent forest landscapes and excellent skiing conditions. Located near La Vanoise National Park and the traditional villages of Montchavin, Montalbert and Champagny en Vanoise, Residence Quartz is set in the most beautiful natural environment imaginable.
AN EXCEPTIONAL DOMAINE:
Second most skiable terrain in the French Alps
10 mountain stations from 1250 to 3250 meters altitude
Strong tourist base in both winter and spring
In the heart of the grand nature
Savoie is home to France’s First National Park, founded in 1963 and adjoining the Italian Grand Paradis National Park. Together, they form the largest protected area in Europe. The area a lot to offer, including its renown cuisine, including fabulous cheeses (Beaufort, Tomme de Savoie & Reblochon), pasta (Crozets and Taillerins) and wines (Gamay). During the 17th century, the baroque art movement revealed itself in Savoie, as an artistic expression of the catholic reformation movement. The Baroque paths are a 500 km long nature walk through the Savoie valleys. This region also offers a wide variety of sports, such as rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, rafting, kayaking, golfing and summer and winter skiing on the everlasting snow of four glaciers.
A full-comfort residence of unique buildings located near the slopes, in harmony with its surroundings. The area is accessible from Grenoble, Geneva and Lyon airports, or
by TGV to Saint Michel de Valloire (4 hours from Paris) and a bus link from there.
Residence of Charm:
9 Studio Apartments
51 One Bedroom Apartments
4 Two Bedroom Apartments
4 Three Bedroom Apartments
For more information, contact: email@example.com
More photos and details at http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/sales/leasebacks/alps_quartz/alps_quartz.html
** FPI PROPERTY LISTINGS – FOR SALE
These properties are located near the RER for easy access to a job out of the city!
* NEAR EGLISE DU VAL DE GRCE, 5th
On 2nd floor with lift in a 1930 building, entirely renovated spacious and beautiful 2-room apartment, 55 m2, including: an entrance hall, a 29 m2 living room with equipped open kitchen, a bedroom on courtyard, a bathroom, separated toilets, dressing room and a cellar. Very good localization. Sunny.
Asking Price: 410,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
* NEAR THE JARDIN DES PLANTES, 5th
Near Jardin des Plantes/Saint Marcel, 3 rooms in 51 m2 on the 6th floor of a Haussmannian building in perfect condition. Souther exposure and northeast exposure on the courtyard. Living room, two bedrooms, kitchen, bath, separate toilet, parquet flooring, security door, elevator.
Asking Price: 375,000 Euros + 2% Finder’s Fee
The best way to find the home or apartment in France of your dreams is to designate a time to be here to do a proper search. For more information about our property search services visit http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/propertyconsultation.html and for serious inquiries regarding these properties click here to email Jocelyn Carnegie, French Property Consultant: firstname.lastname@example.org
PARLER PARIS APRES MIDI
EVERY SECOND TUESDAY OF THE MONTH, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. NEXT MEETING: July 13th, 2004 (NO MEETING DURING AUGUST)
This is your opportunity to meet every month, often with local professionals who can answer your Working and Living in France questions. You are invited to come for drinks and share your questions and comments about what it takes to create a life here, own property and enjoy what France has to offer. It is also an opportunity to network with other Parler Paris readers.
Upstairs at La Pierre du Marais
96, rue des Archives at the corner of rue de Bretagne, 75003 Paris
Mtro Lines 9, 3 et 11, stations Temple, Rpublique or Arts et Mtiers
For a detail description of the past meeting and for more information
about Parler Paris Aprs Midi, visit:
Don’t forget that with your FPI subscription you are entitled to a discount on the purchase of any Insider Paris Guides. You’ll find details of the guides at http://www.insiderparisguides.com/. When ordering, a box will pop up allowing you to enter the following username/password
Order more than one guide at a time and you will receive an additional discount!
RENTING AN APARTMENT IN PARIS OR HAVE AN APARTMENT TO RENT?
If you are seeking to rent a furnished apartment for a week, a month or a year or you have an apartment you wish to rent, contact Adrian Leeds
FPI CONFERENCE CALLS
As an FPI subscriber, we offer you special access to our time and knowledge with our own quarterly conference calls. The next scheduled conference call is Sunday, July 11th at 8 p.m. Paris time, 2 p.m. Eastern time. Mark your calendars now, but don’t worry, we’ll give you plenty of advance notice.
Discussion Topic: THE FRENCH LEASEBACK: A HASSLE-FREE INVESTMENT WITH A GUARANTEED RETURN
Conference Date: Sunday, July 11th, 2004
Conference Time: 2pm EST, 8 p.m. Paris time
*** To listen to the last conference call of April 18th, click here: http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/184.mp3
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- FPI Website: To access any password protected pages, the username is: fpiuser and the password is: paris1802. If your computer utilizes cook
ies, once you log into a subscriber only section, the login information will remain active for seven days, after which you will have to login again.
- Past issues of FPI are available on the website. You will find the “Past Issues” link on the left under “Subscribers Only” or by going to http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/archives.cfm
- To receive your free French Leaseback Report or the Paris Property Report, click on http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/subscribersonly/reports2003.cfm and download the pdf versions.
- Instructions for upcoming conference calls are on the FPI website. You’ll find the link under the “Subscribers Only” section on the left of any page.
- Get In On The Discussion: Care to weigh-in on current HOT topics of discussion on France? Get in on or start your own thread on our bulletin board at http://www.agora-inc.com/forums/index.cfm?cfapp=15
For rent by the week or longer
Two lovely 2 or 3-bedroom apartments — 1st arrondissement, same building. Just minutes away: the Louvre, Tuilleries, Place Vendome and more. French style gives you a true taste of Paris. Fully equiped makes your Paris stay effortless, comfortable and memorable.
Complete information and photos at http://www.youlloveparis.com
* 23, rue Mazarine in the 6th arrondissement. Mtro: Odeon
45 square meters: bedroom, bath with tub/shower, kitchen & dining area, living room with bedcouch. Sleeps 4. Fully furnished. Cable TV. Beautiful restored stone wall, beams, charm of 17th century building. 3 flights up, no elevator.
To book, contact Porter Scott at
Guest Room or Two-Bedroom Apartment Located in a 17th century Le Marais Hotel Particulier, this 70 square meter apartment two-bedroom apartment with lots of light is nicely furnished and is perfect for a single woman in the freshly renovated guest room when owner Adrian Leeds is in or for up to 4 people when she’s traveling.
The Guest Room is offered at 525 Euros per week (75 Euros per day, 200 Euros deposit deposit required). The Entire Apartment when available is offered at 875 Euros per week (125 Euros per day, 350 Euros deposit required). References are required.
Pictures and more details available at http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/apartments/rentals/leeds.html
For information and reservations email: ABL_Apartment
==SEASIDE VACATION APARTMENT RENTAL==
Monte Carlo Seaside: a dream flat with a dream view on Monaco and the sea!
Located at the french border of the principality of Monaco in Roquebrune Cap Martin — this big one bedroom flat of 600 square-feet with a terrace can easily accommodate one couple + one extra adult on a convertible sofa. Fully equiped kitchen, marble bathroom, private cark park, security doors, pure silence, fresh sea breeze, direct access to the quiet private beach at 200 meters, 5 minutes to Monte Carlo train station or bus stop, easy access from Nice international airport and Monte Carlo train station.
May to June*: 600 euros per week
July to September: 800 euros per week
*Special Weeks in May: Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival: 1000 euros per week
or contact FPI_Monte-Carlo and ask for the French Property Insider Special Offer.
Elegant, Tasteful, Calm at Saint-Germain-des-Prs, 6th arrondissement, one bedroom apartment, sleeps 4. Amenities: Fireplace, Phone, Cable TV, Full Kitchen, Microwave, Refrigerator, Cooking Utensils provided, Linens provided, Washer & Dryer, Bathtub with Shower.
For more information, visit:
http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/rentals/scott.html or contact FPI_Cherche_Midi_Rental
* 41, rue Mazarine in the 6th arrondissement. Mtro Odeon
40 square meters: bedroom, bathroom with shower. Kitchen. Dining/Living room with sleeper sofa. Sleeps 4. Fully furnished. Cable TV. Restored interior brick wall. 2 flights up with elevator.
To book, contact Porter Scott at
==PROVENCE VACATION HOME RENTAL==
Make this exquisite contemporary private residence your home away from home while vacationing in Provence this spring or summer. Paradise for the person who appreciates fine esthetics, this restored farm house dating as far back as 1682 is in the heart of Provence in the green setting of over seven acres of olive and chestnut trees, terraces and gardens with a private pool. “La Vernatelle” is less than 20 minutes from Saint Tropez, but nestled in the forest of La Garde Freinet en Provence. Three bedrooms,
four baths, seven terraces, a chimney, a large mezzanine for reading and lounging overlooking the main living area, pool and much, much more! Read more about La Vernatelle… http://www.adrianleeds.com/frenchproperty/insider/rentals/lavernatelle.html
2,975 Euro per Week
To reserve or for more information, contact: AmmonMoore@aol.com
* 20, rue du Cherche-Midi in the 6th arrondissement, just down the street from the world famous Poilne bakery. Mtro: St. Sulpice. 45 square meters: bedroom, bath with tub/shower, kitchen, dining room and living room area with trundle bed (2 twins). Fully and elegantly furnished. Cable TV. Sleeps 4. Fully furnished. Decor composed of 18th century oak paneling. 2 flights up.
To book, contact Porter Scott at
Stay in your own 17th-century pied–terre in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prs, Paris, by the week or month. Sleeps 4. Newly furnished and redecorated. Totally charming. From $150 per night.
or contact Porter Scott at Mazarine
See More Apartment Rentals At: http://www.adrianleeds.com/parlerparis/apartments
HELPFUL CONVERSIONS FOR REAL ESTATE
1 square meter = 10.7639104 square feet
1 hectare = 2.4710538 acres
For more conversions, refer to: http://www.onlineconversion.com/
SUBSCRIBE TO PARLER PARIS
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