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In France, You Buy As Is

Volume XIX, Issue 32

Photo of the Nice coastline with a for sale sign in the lower right corner

In the U.S. when a house is purchased, it is standard procedure to do an inspection. An inspector will look at things like a home’s foundation, structural components, roof, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), plumbing, and electrical systems, then provide a written home inspection report with results. The buyer then has the right to ask the seller to make repairs, or for a concession or credit towards the repairs, walk away from the deal or get estimates before committing to the purchase.

Not so in France. The buyer buys “as is.” This is a much more reasonable way, in my opinion, because it seems ludicrous to me that the seller should have to improve on the property, not for themselves, but for someone else’s use!

There is no formal inspection done in France, although the buyer can certainly have one performed at his own cost. In place of an inspection in France, the seller is required to provide official “diagnostics” that offer up as much information about the property as is possible, with the exception of structural issues. The Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT) is intended to inform the buyer concerning asbestos, lead, electricity, gas, termites and other elements in order to get a precise idea of the investment qualities and defects.

List of diagnostice required in the sale of French real estate

The following information about the diagnostic procedure has been provided by the Chambre de Notaires de France:

ASBESTOS

Nature of the document: State mentioning the presence or absence of materials or products containing asbestos.

Concerned buildings: All buildings for which the building permit was issued before July 1, 1997.

Document validity duration: If no trace of asbestos is detected, the period of validity is unlimited. On the other hand, if the presence of asbestos is detected, a new check must be carried out within three years following the submission of the diagnosis.

Please note: if the diagnosis was carried out before 2013, it must be renewed if the property is sold, even in the absence of asbestos.

Penalties provided: The seller cannot be exempted from the corresponding hidden defects guarantee.

NON-COLLECTIVE SANITATION

Nature of document: Document relating to the non-collective sanitation installation.

Concerned buildings: All built buildings which are not connected to the public network.

Document validity duration: Three years.

Penalties provided: The seller cannot be exempt from the corresponding hidden defects guarantee . The buyer must bring it into line, within one year after the signing of the authentic act.

LEAD

Nature of the document: Report of Risk Exposure to Lead (CREP). This observation must be accompanied by an information leaflet, which sums up the effects of lead on health and the precautions that need to be taken in the presence of coatings that may contain lead..

Concerned buildings: Residential buildings or part(s) of buildings which are used for residential purposes and built before January 1, 1949.

Document validity duration: If there is lead presence above certain thresholds: 1 year for sale. Otherwise, unlimited.

Penalties provided: The seller cannot be exempted from the corresponding hidden defects guarantee.

ELECTRICITY

 

Nature of the document: State of the indoor electrical installation.

Concerned buildings: Residential buildings or part(s) of the building allocated to housing, whose installation has been carried out since more than 15 years.

Document validity duration: Three years maximum for the condition of the indoor installation, as for the certificate of conformity in case of renovation works.

Penalties provided: The seller cannot be exempted from the corresponding hidden defects guarantee.

ERP (Etat des Risques et Pollutions)

Nature of the document: State risks and pollution (natural, mining or technological hazards, seismicity, radon gas risk and polluted soils)

Concerned buildings: All types of buildings covered by a prefectural decree specifying the municipalities which are concerned and the list of foreseeable risks.

Document validity duration: Less than 6 months before the date of the sales agreement.

Penalties provided: Pursuing the resolution or the request to decrease the price per seller.

GAS

Chart gaging energy performance in France

Nature of the document: State of the indoor gas installation.

Concerned buildings: Residential building or part(s) of building which are allocated to housing, whose installation has been carried out since more than 15 years or whose last certificate of conformity dates back to more than 15 years.

Document validity duration: Maximum 3 years for the condition of the indoor installation, as for the certificate of conformity in case of renovation works.
Penalties provided: The seller cannot be exempt from the corresponding hidden defects guarantee . As for the latter, the buyer can obtain a reduction in the sale price or even cancel the sale.

TERMITES

Nature of the document: State concerning presence of Termites.
Concerned buildings: All built buildings (areas delimited by prefectural decrees).

Document validity duration: Six months maximum. To be redone in the event of a new municipal decree which shall declare an infested zone.

Penalties provided: The seller cannot be exempted from the corresponding hidden defects guarantee.

Map of the departments covered by an order of the prefect, delimiting the areas infested by termites dated January 1, 2016

ENERGY PERFORMANCE (DPE)

Chart for energy performance for French real estate

Nature of the document: Energy performance diagnosis.

Concerned buildings: All buildings except those listed in article R.134-1 of the CCH.

Document validity duration: 10 years. To be redone in case of substantial work.

SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING THE DPE:

Some aspects of the diagnostic of Energy Performance has changed as of July.

In order to be more reliable and fairer, the method of calculating the DPE has been revised. It is no longer based on consumption bills, but on all the characteristics of the dwelling: heating, insulation, auxiliary consumption, lighting, location, etc. In addition, the DPE is enriched with new information such as summer comfort, ventilation or heat loss. It also indicates recommendations for reducing consumption and emissions. Moreover, the diagnostician issues a quantified estimate of work deemed essential.

In addition, a new, more readable label has been introduced. It takes into account the primary energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to establish the class of housing.

In addition, the DPE becomes enforceable. Thus, when a buyer or a tenant notes errors between the real state of the housing and the indications of the DPE, it engages the responsibility of the salesman, the financial backer and the diagnostician in order to ask for a compensation equivalent to the cost of the work necessary to obtain the energy level indicated, even to call upon justice.

However, the old DPE’s carried out between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2017 remain valid until December 31, 2022. As for those made between January 1, 2018 and June 30, 2021, they remain valid until December 31, 2024.

GRINDSTONE

Nature of the document: Information on the risk of grindstone presence.

Concerned buildings: All built buildings (areas delimited by order of the prefect).

Document validity duration: No fixed duration.

Penalties provided: The presence of grindstone may, under certain conditions, make up a latent defect which is likely to engage the civil liability of the seller.

CARREZ LAW

Diagram demonstrating the use of the Loi Carrez

Nature of the document: Certificate attesting the surface area of the concerned batch.

Concerned buildings: All co-ownership batches for residential or commercial use (except cellars, garages, parking space and generally, batches or fraction which are less than 8 m2).

Document validity duration: Permanent

Penalties provided: Nullity of sales action in case it hasn’t been mention. Request to decrease the price if surface error of more than 5%.

TECHNICAL DIAGNOSIS OF THE CONDOMINIUM

Since 1 January 2017, the global technical diagnosis (GTD) has become compulsory for all buildings (partial or total residential buildings) over 10 years old which are subject to (For partial or total residential use) subject to an insanitary procedure and for which the administration asks the trustee to produce a DTG.

For the other condominiums, the realization (or not) of this diagnosis, which is intended to present the condition of the building and to fix any work necessary for its conservation and maintenance over the next ten years, must be submitted To one vote in general meeting. Where it exists, the GTD must be provided in the event of the sale of a condominium lot or the entire condominium.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The bottom line is that you won’t need an inspection to determine if the property is worth buying or not at the price on which you agreed with the seller. You cannot expect the seller to make any improvements on your behalf, as you buy AS IS…with full disclosure per these diagnostics.

There are, however, certain other disclosures that the seller is obligated to make, that should they pose a problem after the purchase, can be considered “hidden defects,” or “vices cachés.” And for such hidden defects, the buyer can sue the seller for retribution…but this is yet another story for another time!

A bientôt

Screenshot of Adrian Leeds for HGTV's House Hunters InternationalAdrian Leeds
The Adrian Leeds Group®

P.S. If you are considering a property purchase in France, don’t do it lightly. Let us help you make the smartest decisions to ensure you make the best investment you can. Contact us to learn more!

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