Whether you choose to design a modern villa in the French countryside or buy a new apartment along the French riviera, when it comes to buying real estate in France, it is good to know the ins and outs of VEFA.
First of all, what is VEFA? It’s a term used in French real estate that stands for vente en l’etat futur d’achèvement. It is used to describe buying a property off the plan from a developer, before or during the construction phase but before it is completed.
While the idea of buying off-plan might not be new to you, the purchase process is different from buying a property already built – and in France, it has a number of benefits, including enticing savings to be made for holiday homes.
In partnership with the French property experts at Leggett Immobilier, The Local shares with you six benefits of VEFA.
1. High protection for buyers
The VEFA market is highly regulated in France and buyers are protected from the outset. “The French laws in this arena are strict, making this one of the safest and most transparent property markets in the world,” says Joanna Leggett from Leggett Immobilier.
Buyers are well-protected throughout the contract stage.
The Contrat de Réservation sets out the purchase price, timeframe of the build, broad specification of the property and outline the structure of payments to be made. Note it is illegal for buyers to be asked for any payments before the Contrat de Réservation is signed.
Once signed, buyers are asked to pay the deposit – Dépot de Garantie – either two or five percent, which is paid into a client account and cannot be withdrawn by the developer until the sale is completed. Buyers also have a ten-day cooling off period, with the right to a full refund.
A VEFA contract comes with a number guarantees for the buyer. These include the Garantie de Remboursement, which means you will receive a full refund if the developer defaults on the contract, say for example, if the building’s planning permission was refused.
The Garantie d’achevement covers issues like bankruptcy, while you will also have guarantees on the actual building work for one year under VEFA law. And you can opt for La responsabilité décennale – a ten year guarantee on all major building work.
2. Location, location
Developers have money, they have buying power, they have experience and they have local knowledge. All of these elements benefit the buyers of VEFA properties as developers want to build in prime locations. It’s usually the developers who are notified when those highly-sought-after locations go on the market.
So if you want that unreal position beside a ski resort in the Alps, or conveniently close to the Paris metro, or perhaps with the most idyllic sea views over the Riviera, it’s likely a developer has a property planned for you.
3. Financial incentives
There are a couple of enticing financial incentives with a VEFA property purchase. When buying your dream French real estate, it is the notaire’s role to ensure everything complies with French property law. With VEFA, the notaire and legal fees are reduced so that they only add a maximum of three percent to the total price. For other properties this amount is seven to eight percent.
Another value-add is to do with VAT. As VEFA refers to a new property, the total price includes 20 percent VAT. But if you rent out the property, this amount may be reimbursed. With this option, you can still enjoy the property yourself, it just cannot be your primary residence. There are some other rules too, like it must be furnished and rented on a short-term basis.
New-builds tend to make an excellent long-term investment, explain the experts at Leggett Immobilier. This is in part because of the many financial incentives – so you get an ideal combination of value and quality property.
4. It’s new, and it’s all yours
Many of you will, I’m sure, agree that the idea of having your own slice of French real estate is pinch-yourself exciting. But imagine if that property was completely brand new. No rickety gates to fix, old wallpaper to painstakingly scrape away, or decades-old plumbing oddities to deal with. Heaven!
Buying a property before it’s been built also quite often means you can add your own personal touches as it’s being constructed. The options will vary from development to development but this typically means having your own say on the fixtures, fittings, colours and surfaces used in your kitchen and bathroom, decorations and sometimes even the furnishings.
5. Energy efficiency: a green dream
It’s more likely that new-builds have a higher energy efficiency, so you can rest your head in your luxurious new villa or apartment knowing that you are doing your bit to save the planet.
Typically, newer builds take in passive design principles and with modern building practices and French regulations, owners of newly built properties also enjoy lower running costs compared to those of an older property. A win for both you and the environment.
6. Set prices
Depending on the country you are in, buying a property can be a real rollercoaster of emotions. Viewing a property, falling in love with it, and then the back and forth of negotiating the price – it can be exhausting to get to the contract stage!
With VEFA, once you’ve found your ideal place, there are no anxiety-inducing price negotiations or auctions to attend. Buying off-plan from a developer, there is usually little to no room for price changes, so you basically know what the cost will be, straight up.
Sold on the French property market dream? According to Leggett, your best first steps are to work out the area you want to buy in, and your budget. Then, you can speak to a local real estate agent, like the experts at Leggett Immobilier who have sold many VEFAs. They will help you find suitable properties, explaining the pros and cons in line with what you’re after along the way.