Property diagnostics: what information on your future home?
When buying real estate in France, the future owner receives the results of a number of technical diagnostic tests carried out on the property. What use is such information? All is explained below.
Any real estate transaction concerning property in France requires certain diagnostic tests be carried out, as has been the case for over 15 years now. These technical assessments are mandatory and are paid for by the seller. Annexed to the Promise of Sale (or Preliminary Sale Agreement), these documents provide the purchaser with technical information about the property they wish to buy.
A wealth of information
Over the years, the list of diagnostic tests has got longer and longer, today they total eight. There is, of course, the “Carrez Law” certificate that provides the official measure of a property’s habitable surface area, excluding anything with a ceiling height of less than 1.8m.
The Energy Performance Report gives an assessment of a property’s electrical and heat consumption. Since 1 January 2011, this information must be provided to the purchaser as soon as a property is put on the market.
For older properties, electrical fittings over 15 years old must be checked. This precaution is necessary to counter the fire risk inherent in run down buildings. All gas fittings in the property must undergo similar verification.
The natural and technological risk assessment informs the purchaser about a property’s environs. Sometimes it reveals that the property is located in a flood zone, an earthquake zone, or in an avalanche corridor. In certain locations a certificate is required attesting to the presence (or not) of termites (wood-eating insects that weaken a property’s structure). The presence of asbestos (harmful to health) is also verified though a specific diagnostic test. And lastly, the property’s lead content (in the paintwork) is measured.
A way out
The detailed information provided on the quality of a property is copious. A purchaser should take their time to read and process it before signing the Promise of Sale (or Preliminary Sale Agreement). These documents are an opportunity to verify the information given by the seller or by the real estate agent during viewings. The results are often the moment good, and bad, surprises are revealed. Even if certain diagnostics are bad (poor Energy Assessment score, the presence of lead, etc.) nothing obligates the seller to rectify them by carrying out work on the property. However, such negative elements may come into play during price negotiations. If the purchaser subsequently finds out about negative elements revealed by one or several diagnostic tests, they have a ‘period of reflection’ during which they may change their mind. From the date of the signature of the Promise of Sale (or Preliminary Sale Agreement) they may action their right to withdraw and pull out of the purchase.
Note: since the coming into force of the Macron Law of 7 August 2015, the seller has 10 days (as opposed to 7 previously) from the signature of the Promise of Sale to cancel the sale without any requirement to justify the decision.