We are able to assist our clients in obtaining information relating to specific properties for sale by auction and in representing them ourselves, or in conjunction with local lawyer correspondents where appropriate.

For all properties mentioned on the present website we can send you free of charge initial information (photos, map, vendor’ fees, tenure, information regarding main drainage or septic tank, available amenities, information regarding schools, hospitals …).

If you do not yet have a specific property in mind but are interested in buying at auction, we can help you find suitable properties in any area in France. We can also advise you as to the appropriate legal structure to use (notably whether it is appropriate to buy through a company) for tax purposes or for reasons of property management or inheritance.

The following information relates to property auctions in France taking place in the courts, which is an extremely common mechanism in cases of forced sales, notably in the case of foreclosure by banks. There are other auctions conducted by notaires (notaires), for which the rules are different.

In France, estate agents and auction houses are not permitted to sell real estate in this manner.

When you purchase a house in France you will be buying the freehold. This means you own the land and property outright.

I would like to know where property auctions are advertised in France

There is no single, comprehensive source of information about forthcoming auctions and so you will need to use various websites such as https://www.licitor.com/ or https://www.vlimmo.fr/ or http://www.encheres-publiques.com/

Auctions are also advertised in the legal columns of the national and regional press.

The law also requires that notice of an auction be posted at the property itself and you will also find notices concerning auctions on the notice boards outside the local court (Tribunal de Grande Instance).

Is it possible to bid in person or by telephone from the UK?

No, you are not allowed to bid in person: you have to instruct a lawyer (avocat), who will bid for you.

All auctions are open to the public but you do not have to attend in person in order to bid Bids by telephone are not allowed.

The lawyer bidding on your behalf has to be a member of the local bar of the court where the auction takes place. Please note, however, that we can assist you in auctions in any part of France. We are able to bid before certain courts and can instruct local colleagues in all other cases.

Where do auctions take place in France ?

Property auctions take place before the local court where the property is situated (Tribunal de Grande Instance). There are 164 Tribunaux de Grande Instance in France.

Is it possible to have a viewing prior to the auction ?

Yes of course. In some courts the viewing date is mentioned in the advertisement. If you did not find this information we can arrange a viewing for you.If you have obtained information as to viewing times you do not have to pre-register your intention to view - you can simply attend at the time mentioned. Nonetheless, it is usually better to give notice that you will attend, for purely practical reasons.

Viewing is not mandatory, so that you are perfectly able to bid even if you have not personally seen the property.

I am interested in a property. What do I need to do ?

You have to instruct a lawyer, and give them as much information as you already have. The lawyer then assists you to obtain all further information necessary and to organise your bid.

Instructing a lawyer, providing your personal information and entering into the fee agreement with the lawyer mentioned below can all be managed at a distance and electronically. The only document of which the original must be in the hands of the lawyer before the auction is the deposit cheque referred to below.

What detailed information about the specific property is made available to potential bidders ?

Two important documents are always drafted before the sale : the "cahier des conditions de la vente", which contains the auction particulars and the "procès-verbal descriptif", which is a descriptive report of the property prepared by a bailiff prior to the sale. Both documents are available for consultation at the court office.

The lawyer acting for the vendor (the term vendor is used in the present document to describe the party, which may be a bank for instance, who is forcing the sale of the property by auction) prepares a legal pack containing the "cahier des conditions de la vente" and other information. The pack includes the technical diagnosis file which includes information relating to : asbestos, risk of exposure to lead, the presence of termites, natural and technological risks, energy performance, gas installations, electrical installations and individual sewerage systems (including septic tanks).

What fees and expenses are involved in a property auction ?

If you are the successful bidder at the auction you will have to pay the vendor’s fees, which are often fairly substantial because they will include all the various legal costs of pursuing the forced sale We will indicate the amount of these prior to the auction.

As to our fees, we indicate the amount at the outset and enter into a fee engagement (compulsory in France for all legal work). These fees include all legal and administrative work until you obtain title to the property.

There are no court fees in France at property auctions but there are some fixed costs split between the lawyers for the vendor and the purchaser.

There are no notaire's fees either, since the judgment is the deed of sale.

There is also stamp duty at the rate of approximately 6%.

Is it possible to make a pre-auction bid ?

No: the bidding takes place on the day of the auction, subject to the comments below on bids after the event.

What documents and information do I need to give and what other steps do I need to take before the auction ?

If you buy as an individual you need to provide a copy of your passport and birth certificate.

If the buyer is a company you need to provide a copy of the registration documents of the company.

Very importantly, you need to provide a cheque payable to the CARPA (the Bar Association's client account) for 10 % of the bidding price with a minimum of 3 000 euros. This deposit cannot be paid for in cash or by credit card. If you are not the successful bidder in the auction, your cheque is returned. If you are the successful bidder, the cheque is given to the vendor's lawyer.

What happens on the day of the auction ?

The auctions are never cancelled since a number of properties lots are sold on the same day. The judge starts by announcing the name of the case and asks the vendor's lawyer to state the amount of the vendor’s fees. The auction ends when 90 seconds pass after the latest bid : you are then the successful bidder!

Do I have to pay the full amount immediately if I am the successful bidder ?

No : the balance of the funds is paid two months after the auction. You can make a bank transfer.

Can I make a bid after the auction ?

Yes. The amount of the post-auction bid must be at least 10% more than the highest bid and must be made within ten days after the auction date. This new bid triggers a new auction at which the initial bidding price is your bid.

This can be a useful way of obtaining a property if the initial result is under normal expectations but detailed advice is needed if this mechanism is used.