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Discovering Preemptive Rights

A special note: A reader recently chastised me for what they perceived
as a negative slant and seemingly impossible hurdles to overcome
concerning property in France. It is not my intention to paint a
negative picture. There are a lot of differences between the system
here and in other countries. Our job is to inform and educate you about
those differences. While I can understand how the articles may seem
negative, it is important for you to know about and understand the ins
and outs so that when you come to France to make your property
purchase, you have a positive experience. That is our intent and goal.
On with today’s "negative" topic…

In a similar way that French inheritance law mandates certain people
have rights to your property when you die, the "droit de préemption"
(right of pre-emption) mandates certain authorities and parties have a
right of priority to purchase property over a potential buyer. There
are basically four ways in which the right of pre-emption may be

1.) The first right of pre-emption, "droit de préemption urbain," is
that of the "Commune," or neighborhood, where the property is located.
The Mairie’s office (city hall) usually exercises the right where the
property or land is required for development purposes including public
works, community facilities, etc. The "Notaire" (property attorney) in
charge of the sale of the property draws up a "declaration d’intention
d’aliner" (DIA) notifying the Mairie of the sale. The office has two
months to reply.

If the Mairie does not intend to exercise its right, it can either not
reply or send the DIA back with the comment "droit non exercise" (not
exercising the right) or "droit n’existe pas" (the right doesn’t
exist). If the Mairie exercises its right of pre-emption the seller has
three options: withdraw from the sale and keep the property, accept the
Mairie’s offer at a lower price, or maintain the asking price and let a
judge fix the price at which the Mairie purchases the property (the
Mairie will usually offer to purchase the property at a lower price
than the price indicated in the DIA).

2.) A tenant holds the second right of pre-emption. The landlord is
required to send notification to the tenant of the intended sale. If
the tenant wishes to buy the property he or she has two months to
complete the purchase, or four months if a loan is required. If the
landlord sells the property without notifying the tenant or sells the
property at a lower price, the tenant can, within one month following
completion, take priority over the purchaser.

3.) The third right of pre-emption is in relation to rural areas. This
may not concern most of you, but I mention it here because we’ve had a
number of readers express an interest in property in the countryside.
In this situation the farmer and the "Société d’Aménagement Foncier et
Etablissement Rural" (agricultural commission) both have a right of
pre-emption over land or property. The process and regulations are
similar to the droit de préemption urbain.

4.) The fourth right is granted to a "co-indivisaire" (joint owner) of
jointly held property. If one of them sells his/her share, the other
"indivisaires" have a priority right to purchase the share. The seller
serves an official letter on the other indivisaires. They have one
month to answer. If they wish to purchase the share they must do so
within two months.

There are some properties which the Mairie, a tenant, or a farmer
cannot purchase because they do not have a droit de préemption:

* A Mairie cannot exercise its right if the "règlement de copropriété"
(establishment of the condo association) have been registered for more
than 10 years, if the sale of the property has been completed for less
than 10 years, or if the property is to be built in the future.

* A tenant cannot pre-empt a sale taking place between members of the
family closer than the "troisième degré" (nieces, nephews, uncles).

* A farmer cannot pre-empt a sale taking place between members of the
family closer than the "troisième degré".

So, what does all this mean to you as a seller or a buyer of French
property? The consequences of the droit de préemption are that you as
seller may not be able to sell your property to whom you want at the
price you want. You as buyer may be forced to let the "préempteur" buy
the property (you would be entitled to recover all deposits made to the
estate agent or the Notaire).

In reality, pre-emption rarely occurs, but is an issue to be aware of.
The moral, once again, is to be as informed as possible about the
intricacies of the French real estate system and hedge against any
unforeseen problems.

A bientôt,

Schuyler Hoffman< br> Editor, Paris Property Insider
E-mail: mailto:[email protected]

P.S. Toward the end of every Paris Property Insider you’ll find details
on the valuable services International Living in Paris offers
foreigners wanting to buy property here. From locating your apartment
or home, to obtaining a mortgage, to renovating, we are prepared to
assist you. Don’t miss the details below. And don’t miss our Property
of the Week!


Just steps from the Elysée Palace (the presidential home) in the 8th
arrondissement, you’ll find this beautiful and unique designer
apartment of 90 square meters. A loft-style layout with wood floors and
exposed wood beams, it’s located on the 4th floor of an 18th century
building (no elevator) and includes a concierge. Sunny East and West
exposures augment the comfort of this immaculate apartment on a quiet
courtyard. Only a five minute walk from the Champs-Elysée and the
Concorde, and all the fabulous shopping and restaurants, the flat
includes a large bedroom, modern bathroom, study/dressing room with a
view on the Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and a dining/living room with
working fireplace that opens onto a fully equipped cook’s kitchen
(dishwasher, washer and dryer, oven, U.S. fridge with ice/water). Other
amenities include TV and stereo. Perfectly ideal for a bachelor or

Offered at 3,050 euro per month (all inclusive, one month minimum),
2,750 per month long-term (up to a year, and renewable). Available
furnished or semi-furnished.

For information on availability and booking, please contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=#cbElysees


There’s room for the whole family in this four-bedroom flat of 260
square meters with 14-foot ceilings. Located in a classic
Haussmann-style building, this apartment sits on the "noblesse étage"
(2nd floor). In one of Paris’ poshest neighborhoods, just off the Parc
Monceau, you’ll be able to spend the holidays in the formal salon and
dining rooms, both with marble fireplaces. The master suite come with a
fireplace and its own bath, there is one bedroom with twin beds for
kids. You’ll never wait in line with three baths and two water closets
to choose from. The huge eat-in kitchen seats 8-10 people and comes
fully equipped–including a washer and dryer. Appointed with art,
antiques, new furnishings, satellite TV, French Cable TV, and two VCRs,
this is indeed the place for your holiday of a lifetime. (photos
available on request).

Available Dec 22 – Jan 6 and offered at $2,500 per week (maid service
available by special arrangement).

For information on availability and booking, please contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=#plnoblesse



* Adrian Leeds normally, shares her charming apartment with guests, but
this November, you can have it all to yourself…two bedrooms, sleeps
four. A Marais charmer, staying here you’ll be close to all the Marais
has to offer, yet secure and comfy in your own quiet little

Offered at $875 per week or $1,500 for the entire two-week period.

Pictures and more details available at:

For reservations contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=#ableeds

* Charming, quiet, fully-furnished one-bedroom apartment, in a 17th
century historic building, secure, sunny, on 3rd floor in a quiet
cobblestone courtyard. Walk to most Parisian landmarks, galleries,
museums. With fantastic shops and resta

urants, the Marais is one of
Paris’ liveliest, most "trendy" neighborhoods.

No pets, smokers, students or children. Professional single or couple

Offered at $1,500 for the month (includes local telephone, all other
costs. References and $500 deposit required).

For information on availability and booking, please contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=#starrapt


This flat is small but very charming. Its décor is inspired by Moroccan
styles mixed with a French modern art of living. Three windows overlook
a quiet, peaceful and romantic courtyard. It’s furnished with two
large, high quality single beds that can be fitted together to make one
king size bed. The apartment is in a recently renovated 18th-century
building, tucked away on a quiet street, in a quiet neighborhood, only
minutes on foot to the center of the Marais. You’ll relax in comfort in
this fully furnished and equipped hide-away.

Offered at $660 per week (also available at a $100 daily rate).

Pictures and more details available at:



This exquisite contemporary private residence can be your home away
from home while vacationing in Provence. Paradise for those who
appreciates fine esthetics, this restored farm house dating back to
1682 sits on seven acres of olive and chestnut trees, terraces and
gardens in the heart of Provence. "La Vernatelle" is less than 20
minutes from Saint Tropez, nestled in the forest of La Garde Freinet en

Pictures, more details, and contact information available at:



Situated directly across from the gardens of the Picasso Museum, in the
heart of the Marais, this two-bedroom apartment is an ideal investment.
It is not inexpensive, but located in an area where property values
continue to climb and with very good short-term rental value, you are
practically insured a good return on your investment.

Full details and pictures available at:


Our recent Working and Living in France Conference this past October
provided a day of sessions covering the ins and outs of buying property
here. If you missed the Conference this time around, you’ll have
another opportunity to learn this valuable information at our next
Working and Living in France Conference June 19th through 24th, 2003.
To be placed on our mailing list for information on the Conference,
please send an e-mail to
mailto:[email protected]?subject=JuneConference

OR, if you can’t wait until June for this valuable information, you may
want to purchase a multi-cassette set of the ENTIRE CONFERENCE LIVE ON
VIDEO, available from International Living and Prime Cut Productions in
U.S. format (NTSC) or European format (PAL).

TO ORDER YOUR VIDEOS, you may go directly to our online secure payment
order form at


Many people don’t have the time nor the resources to look for their own
piece of France, especially if they’re located in the States or other
foreign country.

Our office offers you assistance to do the things you can’t do unless
you are here. We have a specific service to help you find your
property. Using our personally selected professional locators and real
estate agents, we work with you to find the property that is worth
coming to France to look at. Or if you are already here, all the

After getting a basic idea of what you are looking for, we will spend
the next month searching for just that. You’ll receive weekly reports
with suggested possibilities and pictures that will help to further
narrow down what you want.


he fee for this service is $500. Should we find the right apartment
for you, there will be a finder’s fee of 2% on the price of the
property if you make the purchase, with a minimum of $5,000, maximum of
$20,000 (the initial $500 will be applied against the finder’s fee).

For more details and answers to your questions contact:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ppiFindersService

For details on our full range of property services, got to:


Not only can you buy property in France, you can obtain financing here
to buy that property. Our IL Paris office has associations in place
with two major lenders who specialize in foreign clients. They are
especially interested in building their American customer base. Through
these lenders you can finance 70% to 85% of the purchase price of the
property, depending on your resident status in France, at very
attractive interest rates (currently 4.5% to 5.7%).

Our services are available to assist you with filling out initial
applications and collecting the documents you’ll need to apply for your
mortgage. We will set up the appointments with the lenders for you, and
if desired we can even accompany you to your appointments.

If you’re seriously looking to buy property in France and would like
more information on the lending process, visit our website at:

For answers to your questions contact Schuyler Hoffman:
mailto:[email protected]?subject=ppiMortgageInfo


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