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French Property Terms

Following are some of the more common terms associated with buying and selling French property.

2F, 3F, 4F

Literally translates as "2 faces (sides)", "3 faces (sides)", "4 faces (sides)". They respectively refer to a terrace house, a semi-detached house, and a detached house. For more explanation, see French Property Sizes.

Abri

A shelter. Could also be a small outbuilding (e.g. a shed)

Acompte

Deposit

Agence Immobilière

Estate Agency

Ancien Propriétaire

The previous owner

Appartement

Apartment

Ascenseur

Lift (or in North American English: elevator)

Atelier

Workshop

Bâtiment

Building

Bon de Visite

A form that estate agents ask you to sign before viewing a house. It is used to prove that they were the first to show you the house, so that in the event of you subsequently buying from another agent or from the owner direct they can still claim their sales commission.

Bon état

In good condition. See also "Rafraîchir" and "Rénover". In terms of condition, the terms from best to worst are "très bon état", "bon état", "Rafraîchir" and "Rénover".

Bricolage

DIY

Carte de Séjour

Residence permit. No longer required for members of the EU (e.g. not required for UK citizens)

Cave

Cellar. If you want to store wine, this could be important!!

Chambre

Bedroom

Chauffage

Heating

Chauffage Central

Central Heating

Chauffae Central Fuel

Oil Central Heating

Chéminee

Chimney. Also sometime used to mean fireplace.

Clause Suspensive

A conditional clause which is used in the "Compromis de Vente". For example, you might add a condition that the sale of the house is dependent of obtaining planning permission for an extension.

Compromis de Vente

Normally the first document signed between the buyer and the seller. It commits both to the sale of the house. Normally the buyer must pay a substantial deposit at this stage; if he does not complete the sale then the deposit is lost. On the other hand, if the failure to complete the sale is due to the seller, the seller must repay the deposit, plus pay the same amount again to the intended buyer as a penalty.

Cuisine

Kitchen

Cuisine Américaine

A USA-style kitchen (e.g. large, open-plan, with large modern appliances).

Démenager

To move

Devis

Estimate for work. It is wise to always obtain a devis before requesting work to be done. Note that this is only an estimate, so in the event of unforeseeable circumstances it is not binding. This is similar to UK and USA law.

Double Vitrage

Double glazing

En Tontine

Inheritance arrangement whereby the surviving spouse takes full ownership of joint assets. See our pages on inheritance and taxes for more information.

Entièrement Rénové

Entirely renovated

F1, F2, F3, F4, etc.

A measure of the property size. For details see French Property Sizes.

Fosse Septique

Septic tank. Typically found in rural properties that don't have mains sewage.

Foyer

Fireplace. Also sometimes used as slang to mean house (e.g. "Each 'foyer' is entitled to an allotment" would mean that there was one allotment per house. Also see "Chéminee" above.

Frais de Notaire

The fees charged by the notaire. These fees are normally in addition to the sales prices and include the fee received by the notaire for his work, plus his direct costs (e.g. the land registration fee that he needs to pay), plus property sales tax. As these fees can be substantial and are normally paid by the buyer, one should confirm the amount before committing to purchasing a property. These fees are regulated by law, so should be the same regardless of which notaire you use. If both the buyer and the seller are represented by their own notaires, the buyer pays the same fee but the two notaires split this fee between them.

Frais d'Agence Inclus (FAI)

The estate agent's fees are included in the quoted price.

Grange

Barn

Grenier

Attic

Immobilier

Property (in American English: Real Estate)

Impot

Tax

Lu et Approuvé

Translates as "read and approved". When signing a contract, one is sometimes asked to hand-write this above the signature. It is intended to ensure that the person signing cannot claim they did not know what they were signing.

Maçon

Builder

Maison

House

Maison de Maitre

Literally translates as (House of Master). The term Maitre is used to describe certain positions of importance, so the house of a Maitre is a more formal, somewhat grand style of house.

Mairie

Town Hall

Mètres Carrés

Square meter. Used to express the size of a property. Properties are measured different in France than in the UK, for explanation click on French Property Sizes.

Meubles

Furniture

Notaire

A "notary". Every property sale must involve a notaire, who is an official responsible for ensuring that the official requirements associated with property sales are met, that the taxes on the sale are collected and that the legal aspects of the contract are followed.

Permis de Construire

Planning Permission

Pièce

A room

Piscine

Swimming pool

Plan Cadastral

The town plan, which shows properties and parcels of land

Premier étage

The first floor (in other words, the floor above the ground floor).

Propriétaire

The Owner

Propriété

Property

Plomberie

Plumbing

Promesse de Vente

Similar to "Compromis de Vente" (see above)

Proximité

Close to

Rafraîchir

To redecorate. Commonly in the form "à rafraîchir ", which means it is in need of redecoration. See entry for "Rénover" and for "Bon état".

RDC

See "Rez-de-Chaussée".

Rénover

To renovate. Commonly in the form "à rénover ", which means it is in need of renovation. See entry for "Rafraîchir" and for "Bon état".

Rez-de-Chaussée

Ground floor

Salle de Bain

Bathroom

Salle d'Eau

Shower room (or shower with toilet)

Salon

Lounge (as in living room)

Salle a Manger

Dining room

Séjour

Living room. Similar to "Salon"

Société Civile Immobilière

A company which is set up to purchase property. Even if one is purchasing only a single property, this may be a useful approach in order to avoid tax and inheritance issues. See the articles on tax and inheritance on this site.

Sous-sol

The basement. The literal translation is "under-floor" (which, of course, is where the basement is located).

Surface Habitable

The amount of living space in a house. Note that this is calculated differently in France than in the UK (for details, click on French Property Sizes).

T1, T2, T3, T4, etc.

A measure of the property size. For details see French Property Sizes.

Taxe d'Habitation

A local tax, paid by anyone living in a property (either rented or owned).

Taxe Foncière

A tax on property (paid by the owner).

TBE

Short for "très bon état".

Terrain

Land

Toit

Roof

Très bon état

Very good condition. See also entry for "bon état".

TVA

The abbreviation for "Taxe sur la Valeur Ajoutée". In other words VAT or Valued Added Tax (in North American English: sales tax). As in most countries, this tax is found on a range of goods. If you are discussing prices or asking for a "devis", ensure that you check if the price includes the TVA or not. Note that most goods have TVA at 19.6%, but if you are having work done on your home (provided it is not a new property) and you have your builders buy the materials, the TVA is normally reduced to 5.5%. See France VAT TVA.

Are there any other terms that you would like in the above list? If so, please Contact Us.

 
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