Why La Scala Realty?
La Scala is the only real estate agency you need. Combining a modern, fresh perspective with decades of real estate experience, we endeavor to find your dream home on the Riviera. Whether it is for a main residence, a second home, an investment or both…we’ve got it!
We favour inter-agency collaboration in order to ensure that our clients’ interests’ triumph. Your interest is ours. The effectiveness of our work is rooted in our ethical values, which stem from our unique vision of the real estate profession. We are also members of an exhaustive list of real estate search networks, as well as MLS, which subjects agencies to strict regulations. We have access to over 90% of properties for sale on the Riviera and can organize visits to all the properties you want.
Did you just see a property on another agency’s website or window? Simply let your La Scala agency know the reference or send us a picture and we will organize the visit for you.
– View 90% of the properties for sale with only one agent
– Full follow-up and assistance
– Ethics and collaboration in your interest
La Scala’s top tips for investing in a property on the Riviera
1. The location
‘Location, location, location’…The best investments are those in the centre of the city. That is why La Scala only offers properties located in the most desirable districts of Nice, and in the most beautiful places of the French Riviera.
5. Balconies and terraces
Outdoor space can be difficult to find in the city centre of Nice but tend to be more frequent in areas such as Fabron or Mont Boron. An outdoor space is always a plus!
2. Air conditioning
Air conditioning, or the possibility to install air conditioning, is a real plus here, particularly for investors looking to rent their apartment seasonally. This is because air conditioning is a hugely popular criterion for many holidaymakers. In fact, most tourists will only rent an apartment if it has air conditioning.
Choose naturally bright apartments which benefit from the Riviera sunshine! Light transforms apartments and makes them so much more appealing
3. Common Areas
Do not be put off by unattractive common areas in a building. The French go by the motto ‘well, we don’t live in the common areas’ and they do naturally fade over time although they are regularly touched up. However, it is important to find out about the latest decisions made during the general assembly meetings in order to know if any major works are planned in the coming years
7. Sea view
Sea views are few and far between in Nice, as in all Mediterranean cities. Budget dependent, it is important to be aware that you may not be able to keep this criterion in your search for a property. Nevertheless, if the budget is substantial, a sea view is a major asset in a real estate investment here in Nice.
Elevators may be important but are not always essential. It is extremely rare to find a building with a lift in Nice Old Town so do bear this in mind if that is where you want to buy.
If you are stuck between two apartments, always ask yourself which one would be a better investment. As much as you won’t want to, it is always a good idea to anticipate the resale of an apartment.
10 step guide to buying a property
Buying a property abroad can be daunting and confusing, especially when you don’t speak the language.
So, let us simplify it for you below…
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH
Familiarize yourself with the local property market. Our La Scala website property pages are constantly updated with new apartments and villas currently for sale across the Riviera. Have a read through our area guides to help you decide which district is for you. Then start to discover properties for sale in those areas to give you a good idea of what’s on offer and at what price.
2. GET IN TOUCH
We are waiting for you! Please feel free to drop us an email, come into the office or give us a call so we can discuss exactly what you are looking for. From our years of expertise, we find that close communication really helps us get to know you and ensure we cater to your exact needs.
If you are thinking of financing your purchase with a mortgage, this is the time to speak to one of our English-speaking mortgage advisors at Hestia Finance who will clarify what you can borrow so you can determine what budget is realistic. It really increases your bargaining power if you can show the seller you have a pre-approved loan.
4. THE EXCITING BIT… LET US SHOW YOU AROUND
Let’s view some properties! But please give us plenty of notice before you arrive so a dedicated agent can devote their time to you during your stay. As mentioned above, we can organize all visits for you as we are members of several multi-listing systems so even if you see properties with another agency, just let us know and we will arrange a viewing for you!
5. MAKING AN OFFER
If you find your dream property, it’s time to make an offer. Overbidding for a property in France is illegal so negotiating the price down is normally on the horizon! If you really like it, you can make an offer on asking price and the property is automatically yours.
Once both parties are happy with the proposed offer, it is
officially accepted and signed…you are one step closer to making your dreams come true!
Once an offer is accepted, it’s time to appoint a notaire. We work with an excellent team of solicitors that speak English fluently, so you don’t need to spend extra money on translators. These lawyers handle every legal aspect of your purchase, so they prepare both the contracts of sale and do all the necessary background checks.
Checklist for the notaire :
- Passport copies
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificates
- Prenuptial agreement or civil partnership
7. INITIAL SIGNING – COMPROMIS DE VENTE
Now it’s time to sign the compromis de vente, the initial sales agreement. It is signed by both the buyer and the seller in person, by power of attorney or by post. Once signed, the buyer has a 10-day cooling off period to reflect on the purchase.
Should you be financing with a mortgage, a ‘clause suspensive’ will be added into the agreement which states that if you aren’t able to obtain your loan you applied for, you may pull out of the purchase even after the 10-day cooling off period has finished.
8. SEND THE DEPOSIT
Within 7 days of the 10-day cooling off period, a 10% dépôt de garantie is due to be paid to the notary. This money is kept safe in a government-controlled account and is only transferred to the seller upon completion. You may send a deposit from your local bank in your home country using a currency broker like MoneyCorp, if you need details of a currency broker please don’t hesitate to ask. Should you want to withdraw from the purchase within 10-day cooling off period and you have paid your deposit, it will be returned to you immediately and there will be no penalties. If you are successful with your loan, it’s time to send your mortgage approval documents back to the notaire .
We can put you in touch with a reliable, English speaking insurance broker who can advise you on the best contract to insure your new home. It is highly advisable this is done before the final signature, so you are fully insured from the moment you are the new official owner.
10. FINAL SIGNING – ACTE DE VENTE
The penultimate step to owning your dream home! Signing the acte de vente is where you officially become the new owner. You may give the notaire power of attorney if afar, but most clients want to be present for this as they actually get the keys and title deeds for their new home.
Frequently asked questions and answers
Q1. What negotiation margin is there usually?
As it is illegal to overbid for a property in France, there is usually slight room for negotiation although the amount all depends on the seller and their circumstances. What is useful to know is that if you are bidding against another potential buyer, you can make an offer on price and the property will automatically be yours.
Q2. I love this apartment but it needs work, how do I go about renovations?
We have an excellent in-house interior designer we can recommend to you. We would be happy to put you in touch so you can get a realistic quote for the works you would like to be done and our interior designer sees your project through from start to finish.
Q3. Do I have to keep coming to France to sign paperwork?
No you don’t have to – you can give the notaire power of attorney to sign on your behalf although, most of our clients love to be present for the final signing so they can crack open a bottle of champagne in their new dream apartment!
Q4. Do you transfer all bills into my name?
Yes, we can certainly transfer all bills into your name, but we charge a small administration fee to do this.
Q5. I would like to have the apartment officially inspected, how do I do this?
By law in France, the seller has to have official survey reports done on their apartment before they can put their property on the market. This is called ‘Dossier de Diagnostic Technique (DDT)’ and is a group of surveys carried out by a professional company, we work with Stratège, which include:
official surface area (Loi Carrez) asbestos, lead, termites, energy efficiency, natural and technological risks, gas installations and electrics.
Q6. I have heard French property taxes are high, is this true?
The two taxes you would be liable for are; taxe foncière and taxe d’habitation. They vary from apartment to apartment, but they are not normally high. For example, in Nice Old Town it isn’t uncommon to have a bill of less than 500 euros per year.
Q7. I need to transfer money into euros, how much will this cost?
We highly recommend using a currency broker to fix a good conversion rate and save yourself lots of money. You can guarantee a better rate than the bank rates and they even allow you to transfer with just a single click online!
Q8. I like working with you but I have seen another property with another agency, can we still visit it with you being my agent?
Of course! Agencies work in collaboration here in France. Similar to USA, properties are multiply listed online and almost every agency has access to the multi-listing databases. Great news for you – you can simply choose an agency you like to work with, and they will be able to organize all your viewings for you. It makes no difference to the sales commission; it is just simply split 50:50.
Q9. I want to rent my property seasonally, can you help?
Yes, we still work closely with the Riviera’s leading holiday rental agency, Nice Pebbles Rentals, so if you would like to discuss potentially seasonally renting your apartment with them, we can put you in touch no problem!
Q10. Why are there two different surface areas for a property?
In France, you will often see two different figures for the surface area of a property. The general area, which is most often the larger number and the ‘Loi Carrez’ which is the actual area of the property after deduction of any unhabitable space.
Q11. I am French, can La Scala help me?
Yes of course! Our team are completely bilingual and although we are used to working with foreign clients, we take care of all our clients in the same way. We like to support our clients in all types of projects and guide them with their search. Unlike many real estate agencies that focus on their mandates, we take time to make personalized selections of properties for ,our buyers, and fully support them in all stages of the sale process.
A registered estate agent
A notaire acts as your solicitor throughout the purchase/sales process, handling every legal aspect along the way. Not only are the qualified lawyers, they are public officers acting on behalf of the state. Although notaire fees are fixed at 7.2-8%, the notary only receives 1% and the rest is collected for tax purposes and is paid to the relevant authorities. At La Scala we work very closely with fluently English speaking notaires so you can avoid any pitfalls, ensuring nothing is lost in translation. Although, if you know one you would prefer to work with that’s perfectly fine, you are at your liberty to choose.
The act of giving the notaire the right to sign on your behalf. This is normally done if you or the vendor cannot be present for one of the signings.
This is the initial sales agreement, which is prepared by your notaire, or a registered estate agent, and lists your details, the vendor’s details, the details of the purchase and the sales conditions, including a ‘clause’ suspensive if financing with a mortgage. After signing this, you have a 10-day cooling off period to reflect on your purchase. Within 7 days, you are due to pay a deposit (normally 10%) which is held in the notaire’s account. If for any reason you pull out of the purchase within the 10-day cooling off period or exercise your suspensive clause, your deposit will be given back to you.
This is stipulated in the compromise de vente to ensure the sale is annulled and the deposit returned to the buyer should certain conditions not be met. This is most commonly used with mortgages, guaranteeing that if you fail to obtain credit you had planned to purchase with, you can still withdraw from the sale and get your deposit back. Clauses may also state that works must be done in the apartment before the final signing.
This is the final act of sale signed at the notary where the title deeds are given to the new owner.
The deposit, normally 10% of the purchase price that is paid to the notary within 7 days of signing the compromis de vente to secure a property.
In English this means ‘read and approved’ which must be written by the buyer when signing documents.
An admin mortgage arrangement fee that must be paid to the bank that is organizing your loan.
Your best friend! The building management company which look after the property’s communal areas and set up the yearly general assembly meetings between owners.
This is a bill which if often required as proof of identity. It can be a gas, electric or water bill.
This is a local property ownership tax. This is payable by the owner whether or not the property is occupied or rented out. Otherwise known as council tax, this tax goes towards the funding of local services. Calculated by assessing the notional rent that the property might be expected to achieve in the open market, regarding the properties size, condition and location. Then there is a 50% discount to take account of running costs. We are able to inform you of the amount of this tax for any property based on the last tax demand.
This is residence tax imposed on the occupier of a property in which they were resident on 1st January each year. The tax is still payable if it’s your second home and you are not physically present in the property on 1st January. It is also payable if you do short-term holiday lets although you can apply for exemption but then you will be liable for business rates. Although calculated in the same way as taxe foncière, it is usually slightly higher because unlike taxe foncière, this doesn’t include the 50% discount.
A group of surveys carried out by a professional company that test the property for: official surface area (Loi Carrez) asbestos, lead, termites, energy efficiency, natural and technological risks, gas installations and electrics. These legally have to be paid for and done by the seller when they put their property on the market. Both us at La Scala and the notaire will go through the surveys and ensure there are no concerns.
‘Loi Carrez’ is the actual area of the property after deduction of any partitions, walls, stairwells, balconies, cellars and any space under a roof height 1,80 metres. Lots which are less than 8m2 are also not classed as habitable surface area.