IF you buy a property at auction in France not only can the sale process be completed in under a fortnight, but you may pick up a bargain.
However one of the difficulties of buying property in an auction is that the process and procedures are somewhat different to a regular purchase.
Property will usually come onto the market via notaires, the local county court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) or by the State who are offering public buildings for auction.
Many notaires’ websites will feature details of their auction programme but they are also advertised within regional newspapers.
A detailed specification sheet will be available that outlines the location, town planning provisions, any servitudes affecting the property and if it is free of lead piping, asbestos and termites.
The sheet should also include details of the auction date, the opening bid price and the fees involved with the sale.
But you do not have to make a buying decision based just on these details as it will be possible to visit the property at a specified time before the house is auctioned off.
On the day of the auction you will be asked to leave a deposit cheque with the notaire, which is around 20% of the opening price, but non-residents can be asked to pay more.
In return you will receive a badge and be authorised to bid during the auction by raising your hand, if your own notaire is with you they can also offer advice.
And this is where the bidding process gets interesting as it proceeds according to the candle method, or ‘à la bougie’.
This involves small candles being lit as the end of the sale approaches and no one appears to want to challenge the leading bid.
As the candle burns for around 30 seconds and then goes out another will be lit for the same length of time, and if that goes out and there has not been another bid the sale is closed.
If you are the final and highest bidder than you are declared the winner, the amount of the auction price and your badge number are announced by the selling notaire.
However, the property is still not legally yours as there is a period of ten days when an overbid of at least 10% above the winning price can be made.
Although this is rare if it does occur then the property is put back up for auction for a second and final time.
Should there be no overbid then you have 45 days within which to pay the price as well as the cost and fees associated with the sale.
Should you fail in your bid then you hand back your badge and receive your deposit cheque in return, without any costs.
As you can see it can be a complex and very involved method of buying a house and would most probably be suited to people who are actually living in France already.
But if it is an area that interests you here are some websites that offer useful advice as well as an idea of properties available.
Read how I save when transferring money 💶
Visit This French Life Currency Services to find out why I don't use a bank when I send euros to France.
Hire a car in France - deals, advice and driving tips
Be it Paris or Perigueux; Bergerac or Nice after using the services of partner website autoeurope.co.uk you will soon be zipping along the autoroute.
Books on France - reviews and author interviews
Take a browse over these books about France and read some reviews and interviews.