Prepare To Sell Before You Buy

Prepare to Sell Before You Buy

Dusk at the Trocadero as Crowds Gather to Watch “Charade” on a Big Inflatable Screen, Wednesday, August 11, 2004

French Property Insider
Thursday, August 12, 2004

Paris, France

Bonjour French Property Insider Subscriber,

All this week, I’ve had the opportunity to learn first hand the pros and cons of buying property in France in partnership with other investors. A friend who purchased a Paris apartment with her cousin four years ago learned some of the “cons” in the process of selling it so soon after and not having drawn up an agreement between them from the beginning.

She also learned of the “pros” when she discovered, even after the capital gains taxes, how much profit she had made in four years, each doubling their initial investment — down payment, notaire fees and renovation! Scroll down to read more details of the scenario, our advice on how to insure a safe joint property venture, and what you can expect to pay in capital gains taxes on a secondary residence.

On a personal note, I visited my lending bank to show off my new Carte de Rsident enabling me to apply for a mortgage of 110% on a commercial property in the hopes to start ownership of rental apartments. Disappointedly I discovered I couldn’t qualify, based on the minimum amount of taxable income required per year shown on on two years of French tax returns. Income on a U.S. tax return didn’t count toward this type of loan.

Instead, I’ve decided to seek a joint venture agreement with a friend or relative to “get the ball rolling” so that in two years time, I will qualify. When the French lending bank considers your ability to borrow, rental income adds to taxable income and is estimated by the bank based on 30 Euros per square meter per month. Therefore, a 50 square meter apartment would rent for approximately 1500 Euros per month. When you are applying for a mortgage with one of the lenders we recommend (, if you intend to rent the property any portion of the year, this rental income estimate will be added to your income and therefore increase the potential loan capability.

If you’re seeking a totally hassle-free investment in France, you may still want to consider the Leaseback properties. We’ve added four to our roster today: two in the southwest part of France, one in the Alps and another in the center near the Auvergne. Scroll down to PROPERTIES to learn more.

And to learn a little more about what France has to offer, read about one region (Franche-Comt), one department (La Marne in Champagne) and one city (Dijon) in France and then see properties to drool over in each of those areas.

A bientt,

Adrian Leeds
Editor, French Property Insider
Email: [email protected]

P.S. Pick up the Financial Times ( this weekend to read Thirza Vallois’ article about the Aveyron in the Weekend Travel Section. Thirza is the author of “Around and About Paris,” “Romantic Paris” and a forthcoming book on the Aveyron. She will be speaking at the upcoming Living and Investing in France Conference September 10 – 12, 2004 in Washington, DC — the public is invited to attend a dinner and talk by Thirza Vallois about Paris Past, Present and Future. For more information, visit



Volume II, Issue 33, August 12, 2004

In this issue:

* Plan Your Exit Strategy Before Your Purchase Property with a Partner
* What is an SCI?
* Learning About Capital Gains Taxes on Secondary Residences
* Discover a Bubbly Life in La Marne… en Champagne!
* Dijon is More than Just a Mustard
* Revealing the Secrets of the Franche-Comt
* Ever Wonder How You can Live in France?
* Currency Exchange Update
* Hot Property: One Region, One Department and One City
* Property For Sale: Four New Leaseback Properties
* 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.



By Adrian Leeds

There are several ways to consider pooling your resources with a friend or relative to invest safely and amicably in a property in a way that will benefit both parties. Too many make the mistake of going into the joint venture without planning an “exit strategy” — often much more important than the actual managing of the property. This was the case with a friend who entered into the joint ownership of an apartment in Paris without structuring the venture properly from the beginning.

They purchased the apartment with each contributing 50% of the down payment,
notaire fees and renovation expenses, with the idea that one of them would live in it and the other would visit from time to time, about two months or more a year. They decided the person primarily living there would pay the mortgage (as a renter would pay rent) and the other partner would pay expenses over and above the mortgage. They did not create an SCI (Socit Civile Immobilire — a company set up exclusively to purchase property) or any formal agreement between them. They did not formalize the monthly payments made as rental income. They did not consider inheritance laws or capital gains taxes before entering into the arrangement.

In the four years of ownership, the primary resident partner gained his legal residency in France. The apartment became his primary residence and the second partner remained a frequent visitor with no status in France. Time came when they decided to sell the apartment. The bad news that ensued threatened their relationship: one partner would have no capital gains tax to pay and the other would have 33.3%! Clearly, the partner who lived in the apartment, while not having contributed any more than the second partner had all the advantages of use of the apartment as well as a greater profit margin, simply because they did not plan their joint exit strategy at the same time they entered into the joint venture.

Our advice is to enter into a joint venture with a partner or partners to purchase French property with your eyes wide open. As long as you do, your investment will more likely lead to a win-win situation.



A Socit Civile Immobilire, or SCI, is a legal entity used to own real estate property in France. It is a simple entity designed to separate real estate from other personal and business interests. When used by foreigners, there are various tax implications.

There is no official minimum capital requirement. Shares are nominative to a minimum of two shareholders (corporate or individual). Shareholders are defined in the statutes, but there are no share certificates or share registers. There may be one or more directors, called “Grant,” none may have a criminal record. The activity of the entity is non-commercial, limited to the ownership of real estate. The company must have an official address in France. Accounting records must be kept according to French regulations.

Taxes are due on net rental income, if any. Company profits and losses are allocated pro-rata to the shareholders who declare these pro-rated profit/losses on their own tax return. If there is no revenue the beneficial owner must be identified by the company to the tax authorities. If the beneficial owner is a non resident, the beneficial owner will incur forfeitary income and/or wealth taxes that vary according to residence of the owner. Incorporation time is generally short, a matter of a few days if the requestor has the required documents (identity papers) in order.

A Notaire or attorney can create an SCI on your behalf prior to signing the “Acte de Vente.” It is always important to consult your personal tax and legal professionals before entering in to such a set up.



By Samuel H. Okoshken

The tax law changes that took effect January 1, 2004, liberalized the capital gain rules affecting sales of French real estate occurring on or after that date. The tax rate change benefits only tax residents of France. The other two changes benefit non-residents as well as residents.

Historical thumbnail:

With one exception, not discussed here, present law subjects capital gains from sales of a secondary residence to a 33.3% withholding tax for non-residents, and to tax at ordinary income rates for residents (mitigated somewhat by a 5-year averaging rule). Capital gain is computed in the traditional way: net sales price less tax basis. Tax basis, consisting of the sum of original cost plus capital improvements, is indexed for tax purposes by an official inflation factor keyed to the year of acquisition or capital expense. The capital gain is calculated using the adjusted tax basis. The portion of the capital gain subject to tax is reduced by 5% per year of the gain beginning after the second year of ownership. So, if you held your French property for at least 22 years, there would be no French capital gains tax regardless of the actual economic gain. These advantages are available even if you own the property through an SCI.

New Rules:

* The 33.3% withholding rate for non-residents remains.
* The capital gains realized by residents will be taxed at the same rate as used for portfolio gains, namely 26% .
* The inflation adjustment will be replaced by a flat 15% adjustment to cost.
* The holding period will work as follows: No reduction in taxable gain for the first 5 years of ownership. For each year after the 5th year, the amount of taxable gain will be reduced by 10%. Result: No capital gains tax after 15 years.
* Payment of tax: Non-resident rule will remain the same, namely, the Notaire handling the sale withholds the tax from the sales proceeds transmitted to the seller. The mechanics applicable to residents will drastically change: where residents once calculated the tax due when submitting their annual French tax return in the year following the sale, the tax will now be calculated by the Notaire and withheld from the sales proceeds.
* The new rules will apply to sales occurring on or after 1 January 2004.

EXAMPLE (adapted from a quasi-official publication ((Francis Lefebvre, FR 41/03)):

You inherit a French apartment in 1994, then valued at 70,000 Euro. You paid 8,000 Euro inheritance tax. You sell the apartment in 2004 for 120,000 Euro. Capital gain tax is calculated (for non-residents and residents) as follows:

Sales price 120,000 Euro

Less (adjusted basis):
Value for inheritance tax purposes 70,000
Inheritance taxes paid 8,000
15% adjustment to cost 10,500
Subtotal 88,500

Capital gain before holding period adjustment 31,500
Reduction in gain based on holding period of 10 years
(5 years at no reduction; 5 years at 10% per year) 15,750
Net gain 15,750
Less: Special reduction applied to all sales 1,000
Taxable gain 14,750

Tax (withheld by Notaire):
14,750 x 33.3% for non-residents = 4,583
14,750 x 26% for residents = 3,835


el 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. Sam will be speaking at the upcoming Living and Investing in France Conference September 10 – 12, 2004 in Washington, D.C. (
His website is:



Located 1 hours from Paris and 2 hours from Brussels, the history of La Marne (part of the Champagne Region) often reflects the history of France itself. The vast horizons of Champagne have throughout history served as passage ways and meeting places, the settings for wars and invasions, some of which devastated it on several occasions. This region testifies to the cultural heritage of France through the centuries it spent as a backdrop for historic events. It is rich in cathedrals, abbeys, Romanesque churches, fortifications and museums.

Since the beginning of time, the Marne has witnessed the history of France unfold. Known for its sloping vineyards and deep forests, it reveals through its landscapes the history and the life of the men and women who lived here centuries ago.

The plains and corn fields around Chlons-en-Champagne surround an oasis of greenery and water. Around Dormans, the Valley of the Marne undulates in blue and gold. Prestige and tradition surround Epernay, a city that often inspires wonder. Fismes is known for the Romanesque Churches of Tardenois and their signature squat silhouettes. Visitors to the area around Lake Deer-Chantecoq, will notice that the shores and the wood-timbered houses and churches attract both migratory birds and people looking to for a calming nature walk. The sacred city of Reims is known for its architecture, the elements of which have been around for centuries. Szanne is a romantic medieval city known for its castles and its pastoral setting. Sainte-Mnehould, the Country of Argonne, is marked by history, including World War I. Around Vitry-le-Franois, the villages have a way of life that is traditional while at the same time quite unique.

The very earth in Champagne is almost magical for it produces what is heralded as the most fascinating French export – champagne. The richness of the soil is multi-faceted and a visit to this region encourages visitors to discover the history of champagne — how the vines are grown, how the wine is produced, the people who tend the vineyards, the traditions that have sprung up in the villages surrounding the vineyards.

There is more to Champagne than the vineyards and the cities. The surrounding areas have a rich heritage all their own. The Argonne Forests, the Natural Reserve of the Mountain of Rheims, the Champagne plains and the DER lake are just a few of the great natural sights which inspire contentment and relaxation, inviting visitors to take a walk and discover nature.

For more information on all that La Marne has to offer, visit Media contact: Dominique Damian, +33 (0) 3 26 69 51 06 or mailto:[email protected]



Well, Almost…

Once the prestigious city of the Dukes of Burgundy — Jean sans Peur, Philippe le Bon, Charles le Tmraire were all born there — today Dijon is a modern regional capital, within an agglomeration of more than two hundred thousand inhabitants located between Lyon and Paris.

The heir to an exceptional architectural heritage, one of the first sectors safeguarded in France, Dijon accounts for 97 nationally classed monuments. Dijon is known for its glazed rooftops, half-timbered houses, private mansions of the 17th and 18th centuries, the Saint Benign Cathedral, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy. The Estate of Rameau and Bossuet, rented by Voltaire, and in which Gustave Eiffel was born, was first classified in France for urban tourism.

Eight museums enrich the town — the Art Museum in the Dukes Palace, one of the best in France, in which the tombs of the Dukes of Burgundy can be found; the Magnin Museum (a very beautiful private mansion dating from the 17th century); the Rude Museum (transept of the Saint Etienne church); the Museums of Natural and Architectural History (ancient Benedictine abbey of Saint Benign); the museums of Life in Burgundy and of Sacred Art, which form a remarkable ensemble of the 17th century (Bernardines convent and Saint Annes chapel); and the Botanical Gardens.

Every year, Dijon hosts numerous internationally renowned cultural events such as the International Theatre Encounters, the Art Dance (a festival of contemporary dance), Musical Summer (Baroque and Romantic chamber music in the towns classified sites), the Ftes of the Vines (an international folklore festival), the Screens of Adventure (an international adventure film festival), New Scenes (festival of contemporary creations), Primer Plano (European Latin and French-spe

aking cinema festival), the International Gastronomic Fair, the 3rd Annual Festival of Sacred Music (held in October in collaboration with the Festival de Fes in Morocco) and Why Note (a contemporary music festival).

The renovated Palace of Congress and Exposition, recently modernized and extended, located in
close proximity of the town center, is located in the Clemenceau area, the heart of Dijon in the 21st century. Its proximity, and the very recent addition of the Auditorium of Dijon with 1600 seats and exceptional acoustics, enables it to receive wide-ranging meetings in the best conditions.

Reputed world-wide for its “delicacies”, the virtues of which were once supposed to be curative — Ginger bread, black currant and mustard — Dijon is often called “the capital of good living.” It is also exemplary in its town planning and in its superb parcel of parks and gardens. Situated in the heart of Dijon, this green and natural municipal campground near the water’s edge is one of Burgundy’s must well-endowed rest-stops.

Heir to the splendor and prestige of the Court of the Dukes of Burgundy, Dijon is an ideal destination for the gourmet, the wine-lover or the lover of art and history. With its numerous restaurants and the prestigious vineyards of Burgundy at its door, Dijon offers a pleasant environment for your next getaway.

New this year, hotel reservations can now be made online, providing a convenient way for more people to discover the treasures of Dijon.

For more information on visiting Dijon, visit, call the Dijon Office of Tourism at +33 (0)3 80 44 11 44 or send an email to [email protected] Media contact: Sophie Eber, mailto:[email protected].



Located in Eastern France, Franche-Comt consists of 4 counties (dpartements): Doubs, Jura, Haute-Sane and Territoire de Belfort. The region is bordered by the French regions of Alsace, Champagne-Ardenne, Burgundy and Rhne-Alpes and shares a 140 mile (230 km) frontier with Switzerland.

The vast woodland of Franche-Comt stretches between Vosges and Jura. Less obvious is the underground Franche-Comt which accounts for over 9000 underground passages and caves. Franche-Comt’s renowned places of interest can be visited with ease, including the Hrisson Waterfall, the blind valley of Baume-les-Messieurs, the Saut de la Truite (waterfall), the Corniche de Goumois (cliff ledge), the Ballon de Servance (rounded mountain top), the Lison springs, the viewpoint at La Motte, the Cusancin valley, the Les Croix Pass and the gorges of the Langouette.

Franche-Comt is the perfect setting for outdoor activities. During the summer, throughout the region and in the Nature Reserves of Haut Jura and Ballons des Vosges, outdoor activities, air and motor sports are enjoyed by everyone at all levels. During winter one can enjoy on both Massifs (Jura Massif and Southern Vosges Massif) “Activity” holidays: cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoe trekking and dog sledding.

Franche-Comt is the historical meeting point of numerous influences. Because of its location, it has aroused, on several occasions, the envy of neighboring states. From the Roman Empire to Louis XVI armies, from the Spanish to the Dukes of Wrtemberg, each group has left their mark on the region. Two associations were created to revive and bring forth this unique heritage. The first of these, the Cits Patrimoine is now composed of 8 cities, each having more than ten listed monuments. They are willing to protect and to enliven this exceptional heritage by organizing festivals and cultural events. Some Villes et Pays d’Art et d’Histoire (Towns and Lands of Art and History) such as Besanon, Montbliard and Dole are part of this structure, as are Gray and its remarkable Town Hall built in 1568; Luxeuil-les-Bains with its water-cure establishment; Belfort with its many festivals; and Pontarlier, which is the capital of Haut-Doubs. The second association comprises of 23 Petites Cits Comtoises De Caractre (Small Cities of Character) each offering hidden treasures, remarkable natural sites, unusual buildings and traditional festival.

Franche-Comt is the result of a perfect harmony between man, nature and the soil. The cheeses of the region are some of the most tempting in the world – Comt, Morbier, Emmental , Mont dor, Bleu de Gex, and Cancoillotte. Being a cattle breeding region, Franche-Comt has developed a wide variety of good quality delicatessen products. Smoked on farms in a tuy (a large smoking chimney) the salt meats vary – brsi (dried smoked beef), Morteau sausage, Luxeuil ham, Montbliard sausage and Ballon des Vosges smoked shoulder.

Franche-Comt produces local wines and Jura wines. A region of fruit trees, Franche-Comt is also a producer of brandies and particularly typified liqueurs: kirsch from Fougerolles and from Mouthier, and, among others, pine and gentian liqueur. It even produces a traditional local apritif: the anis from Pontarlier. Tradition lives on in the brotherhoods and folk groups of Franche-Comt.

These are just some of the elements of this diverse and charming region. For more information on visiting Franche-Comt, visit Media contact: Barbara Gris-Pichot, 011-33-3-81-25-08-08 or [email protected].


Mark your calendar for the exciting upcoming conferences sponsored by the International Living Paris Office! 


Living and Investing in France
September 10 – 12, 2004
Washington, D.C.

LIF_DC Details

Dinner and Virtual Tour of Paris with Thirza
LIF_DC Dinner/Tour

Walking Tour of French-Speaking DC
LIF_DC Walking Tour

Single in the City of Light
(And Loving It!) with Adrian Leeds                                      The Westin Grand – Conference Site
LIF_DC Single in the City

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