Property auctions in France are not as popular as in the UK or US – in fact a very small percentage of properties are bought and sold in this way.
The majority of property deals are through estate agents (immobilliers) or Notaires – lawyers who are authorised to conduct conveyancing law in France.
Auctions may or may not provide an opportunity for a bargain in France. Usually an auction is chosen to affect a quick sale – perhaps because of divorce or to settle debt. Sometimes they are used where there is a need for complete transparency, for instance in an inheritance sale where the beneficiaries require an evidently clear sale process to avoid disputes.
There are different types of auction
Voluntary auctions (vente volontaire)
State auctions (vente domaniale)
Judicial auctions (ventes judiciares)
Candle auctions (à la bougie)
Buying by auction isn’t that popular in France – other than in Paris where property is always at a premium.
You can find out if there are any auction properties by checking local papers or with Notaires in the local area. Check with the Notaire responsible for the sale that there are no inhabitants incumbent with the property to avoid problems with evictions.
Ensure that you have full access to the property before-hand to check the condition fully.
Also ensure that you have the funds or mortgage to complete the purchase – if you don’t settle the auction debt in full within the required time (one to two months – you will need to check this) you will lose your deposit.
There are lots of rules and requirements when you participate in an auction, if your French is not perfect play it safe and get help from someone with the expertise to guide you through the process and explain all of the details to you.
Properties at auction will typically have a much lower reserve than the market price and all wannabe bidders will need to pay a deposit in advance – which can be anything from 5-20% – if you don’t win the bid your money will be returned. For a judicial auction you will need to have an authorised official bid on your behalf.
Fees at auction in France – Additional fees may include court expenses, lawyers’ fees, publication fees and more – it is important to check in advance what your obligations are.
Strangely you can be “gazumped” at auction. If an additional offer is made within 10 days of the auction and is 10% or more above the price of your offer – the property will be put back into auction – at the increased price.
As you can tell, buying at auction in France is not a cut and dried process necessarily and although it may be a great way to acquire a bargain priced property it is very important to know what all the fees and requirements are so that you don’t end up with something that isn’t quite the great deal it seemed to be.