Are you looking for a cheap real estate in France?
If you want to find a residence in France at low costs, visit the real estate auctions.
Auctions take place periodically, in several dozens of cities in France.
Real estate sales mainly take place in the Tribunal de Grande Instance.
They were known under the name of “candle-light sales” until about 5 years ago. The name was
illustrative for a quite charming reality of ”doing business in Court” but the candles were replaced by a
count-down computer-program, which is so obviously less romantic that some Court Presidents have
difficulties staying awake during the after-lunch auctions.
You’re free to assist just for the pleasure of the event, but if you want to buy this way you have to
choose a lawyer with power of attorney in the district of your choice.
The bidding procedure starts once the President of the Tribunal has given the description, bidding
price and the ancillary costs.
Until 5 years ago (at least in Montpellier) the President then ordered “to light the candles”: a tiny little
candle, succeeded by others as long as the bidding continued, accompanied the competition between
private persons and professionals, all represented by their lawyer – I can assure you that the candles
lowered the stress during the hearing and I was always tempted to request the dimming of the main lights
during this special hearing in Court.
After the successive extinction of two candles, materialized by the smoke which escaped, and without
new bidding occurred during their combustion, the adjudication was established on profit of the latest
“encherissor” (I hope this is proper English, the French word is enchérisseur).
Just like in the candle-light times, the last bidder is announced as the future owner of the house, land,
ruin or other real estate (ships and smaller vessels included). I deliberately mention that he is the
“future” owner, as a 10-days period is reserved for the “surenchères”: whoever wants to offer 10
percent more than the amount the last bidder, can still interfere. This “surenchère” provokes a new
auction on a new date, with biddings starting at the level of the latest auction plus 10 percent as
acknowledged by the “surenchérisseur”.
How to take part in the biddings?
The auctions are public and everyone can assist. To take part in the bidding procedure, you have to
comply with some rules: take a local lawyer who’s doing the bidding for you – according to your
instructions of course – you have to consign a check of an amount of 10 % of the set price which you
recover if you were overruled and when time’s up.
Only local lawyers are allowed to represent you for an auction concerning real estate in the
Languedoc-Roussillon (Gard, Hérault, Lozère, Aude – this could possibly become the whole of
Occitania, we await the governmental decision on the subject)
If the contractor proves to be unable to pay the amount of the adjudication and the expenses, the good
is given back to sale for its initial bidding price. The failing contractor is held to pay the difference
between “his” price and the resale price as finally fixed after a new bidding procedure
The total sum must be paid within the two months (or 45 days for some specific sales) following the
adjudication. Passed this deadline an interest rate is applied on the amount due.
If you feel a specific interest for a house, the name of the “selling” lawyer is always announced and
his office can give you all details and visiting dates.
The “visiting agenda” is often produced on short notice (two weeks) and only for two hours, once or
twice a week during the week preceding the auction.
How is the price setting fixed?
To attract bidders, the price setting is in general voluntarily low.
If the real estate concerns a forced sale upon Court order, the price setting is fixed by the judge at a
level which is in general close to the residual mortgage claim of the seller (a bank, most of the time).
If you assist to a voluntary sale, note that price setting is free, but general practice confirms that prices
are rarely exceeding two thirds of the market value.
How to get information?
The auctions are announced on Licitor, a both paper and internet journal.
Petra Cramer – Montpellier Bar – Nederlands advocaat in Frankrijk