Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Buying an apartment

I mentioned earlier that we are looking for an apartment to buy. While, after 3 months, we managed to find one. I will announce the big news when the deal is done and signed.

Just want to share with you my searching and buying process.

The Searching Part:
1. I went to see some real estate agencies, tell them my requests and my budget.
2. We used and register for their alert-email.
3. Walked around the areas we are interested to see whether there are sellers placing the announcement directly from their windows.
4. Checked with the lawyers (notaires). The lawyers (real estate) here have the right to sell for their clients.

We visited a lot of apartments and managed to get ideas of the price, the configuration of the apartment, the surrounding environments and little by little find out our own tastes. One of our requirements was American kitchen, and unfortunately it doesn't have much supply. We know where we want to live, and I had wasted time visiting apartments in different areas, yet at the end I still stick to the location I want.

Bon de visite: I signed this with the agent agreeing that I would not contact the seller directly after visiting the apartment.

On and off I visited like 14 apartments, some of them I visited again with my husband, and we loved two of them. The first one, we needed to decide on the second day as the seller had an good offer already on hand and was hoping that we can beat the offer. We really loved it, but we felt that it was too risky to seal a deal in such a short time. I was only my third visit, and I still have no much ideas about the whole buying process.

The second one, I loved it, on the way to arrange for my husband to see it, I flew to Malaysia, and it was sold before he managed to see it.

After the trip to Malaysia, we visited the one apartment. It is the exact configuration like the two we loved, and this time with a close garage, and a lower price than the second apartment we liked. My FIL came to visit it again, and he gave us a "go" signal.

Well, we didn't bargain much, as from our experience it can go off the market very quickly, so we didn't want to run the risk again. Overall I feel that we have a nice deal, that's the most important aspect isn't it?

The price:
The display price usually already include the real estate agent commission (around 5-10% of the price). You need to still include around 7% of the lawyer fees (frais de notaire).
Once we decided to buy the apartment, we made an offer (proposition) and we counter-bargain through the agent. It is prohibited to contact the seller directly.

I started contact several banks while doing the visits. I got a mortgage adviser (got the contact from the agency) brief me about the whole process. She also look for good deal for us.
When doing the negotiation with banks, DO NOT tell the bank what the rate other banks are offering you, just tell them whether it's higher or lower. I did the mistake and our rate didn't go lower that what I disclosed. :-(
Check out whether you are qualified for the zero interest rate mortgage from the government or the town hall.
a) Free interest rate mortgage (prêt de taux zero) - a l'état des lieux need to be performed to qualify for this loan. This costs 100 euros.
b) 1% mortgage loan from your company
c) Free interest rate city mortgage - in Nantes you need to be resident of Nantes for at least 3 years.
All the mortgages above have prerequisites to fulfill.

Initial the deal:
We signed the "agreement to sell"(Compromis de vente), with the present of the seller and the agent. We have 45 days to establish a mortgage loan, and 3 months to move into the apartment, to allow enough time to give notice to our current house owner. Before establish the loan, we need to make an appointment with the lawyer from the seller. I don't know why in Nantes we have to use the same lawyer as the seller. We had to pay 5% down payment. The only reason we can get off this deal is that our loan applications got rejected. If we simply change our mind, we will need to pay the seller 10% of the agreed price.

Finalise the deal:
Once you get the loan, you can then fixe a date to sign the actual contact (attestation d'acquisition), to which it means the purchase is completed.

Hope this will help someone who are looking to buy. Please correct me if you see any mistakes in the text above.


  1. How do you go about apartment hunting and mortgage hunting? You speak french or english?! I don't think I can do it if I had to speak a language I am not that proficient in!

  2. Aiya Puteri everything has to be in French lah. My job was contacting the agent and set up appointment. They understood what I want then ok lo. Went to bank to set up appointment and sometimes met alone with the advisers. So gathering infos my job, negotiation all handled by husband and me watching only.

  3. Congratulations on mastering the technique of going through all the black, white and red tape to buy a place! It's quite a feat and sounds immensely complicated.