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The impact of Brexit on property buyers and expats in France

The impact of Brexit on property buyers and expats in France

The announcement that the UK has voted to leave the EU will lead to some uncertainty and concern among British people living in France and those planning to buy property across the Channel.

Over the next two years, the terms of the UK’s new status will be determined and the impact on the overseas property market will be unsure until negotiations between the UK and the EU are finalised. However, while we expect the market to hold its breath in the short term, we believe that people looking to buy a property in France will still be able to realise their dream and that the process is unlikely to become much more complicated than at present. After all, non-EU residents have been buying in France for many years and British people bought property across the Channel before Britain joined the EU.

We understand a lot of British people living in France will be concerned about their situation, especially with regards to their right to live and work in France and their access to healthcare. Once the UK has formally notified the EU that it wishes to leave there will be a period of negotiation and the rights and status of British people living in the EU will be high on that agenda. There will be no immediate change in your circumstances.

At present there are clearly more questions than answers, but we will endeavour to provide as much information as possible in the coming days, weeks and months. Despite the uncertainty in the run up to the referendum, we have been encouraged by the number of buyers keen to go ahead with their plans. The British love affair with France remains strong and is unlikely to be dented by the decision to leave the EU. Likewise, there are many French people living within our shores and the ‘entente cordiale’ will continue to be a binding link between our two countries.


PM David Cameron, friday 24th, june 2016 :

“I would also reassure Brits living in European countries, and European citizens living here, that there will be no immediate changes in your circumstances. There will be no initial change in the way our people can travel, in the way our goods can move or the way our services can be sold.”



BREXIT, a risk worth taking ?



After a positive two weeks for the pound, it has now been on a volatile run since the Bank holiday weekend. We have witnessed the pound lose value against both the Euro and US Dollar. We have seen GBP/EUR rates retract by 2.57% and GBP/USD 2.3% since Monday.

In the lead up to the EU (European Union) referendum on 23rd June, there are sure to be many more peaks and troughs for the pound. But there continues to be uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote, which could keep the pound on the back foot.

I have been saying for a long time that as we get closer to the EU referendum day we could see the pound start a decline against many of the major currency pairs as uncertainty takes hold. There is likely to be far more risk to the downside from an out vote than any potential gains we may see if we remain in the EU.

Many analysts and banks alike have predicted a vote to leave the EU could see a decline of around 10% for the pound and a vote to remain in the EU should see the pound stabilise and we may see a marginal gain. Is that risk worth taking?

If you are considering a currency exchange now or in the near future for a property purchase, business transfer or just need to top up your account overseas I will be happy to explain all of the options available to you to help you minimise any future rate fluctuations going against you. Call me directly on +44 (0) 7989 0000.

We can use numerous tools from forward buying to placing stop loss and limit orders in the market to help you maximise your exchange and give you that all-important peace of mind in knowing how far your funds are going.

Kind regards,
Sam Edmanson
Personal Client Broker
T: +44 (0)20 7989 0000
E: spe@fcexchange.com

How we help our clients:

  • Great exchange rates supported by our Best Exchange Rate Guarantee
  • Free, and easy no obligation trading facility www.fcexchange.co.uk/register
  • Industry experts with over 10 years’ experience in the market
  • Exceptional customer service – Trustpilot, 5 star customer review rating
  • FCA authorised E-Money institution (FRN: 900205), having a “higher” security permissions with the Financial Conduct Authority than authorised payments institution.

Sterling Spring – update from FC Exchange

Yesterday saw sterling gain significantly, with GBP/EUR breaking through the psychological level of 1.2500 (IB) in the morning session, up by 1.18%.  There was little correlation to this as there were no fundamental data releases. The appreciation appeared to be due to investors pulling out of their positions, as it is considered that GBP was significantly oversold last week. Initial gains cooled for the rest of the afternoon session and GBP/EUR has been trading in the new range of 1.2456 (IB) to 1.2488 (IB).


Brexit fears continue to loom, and whilst many countries have kept quiet about their stance for fear of being accused of trying to influence the referendum, Germany has spoken out. A German think tank yesterday warned the UK not to expect an easy ride in negotiations which will certainly add fuel to the fire for the ‘remain’ camp.


Today we have seen the release of German final CPI and German WPI (forecasted and posted at .8% and 0.3% respectively) which could prove to be good precursors for the Eurozone CPI data due out later this week.


Euro buyers will be pleased to see that UK inflation came in at and improved 0.5% this morning, the highest inflation level the UK economy has witnessed in over a year.


Aside from this we have a fairly quiet week ahead for the Eurozone as far as data releases go. Any further volatility is inspected to come following significant US data or concerns over the ‘BREXIT’


Brits looking at buying in France may consider exchange rates at current levels quite low, however, we do feel there may be more risk to the down side and the closer we get to June 23rd, the more sterling could suffer. Clients can lock in their exchange rate for a period in the future with a Forward Contract, eliminating any possible risk that their dream French property could become more expensive.


Why use FC Exchange?

FC Exchange is a foreign exchange specialist that typically saves clients up to 4% on exchange rates compared to transferring money internationally through a bank. FC Exchange is an FCA authorised E-Money institution (FRN: 900205), having a “higher” security permission with the Financial Conduct Authority than an authorised payments institution would.


FC Exchange provides a boutique-styled customer service, offering clients a single, dedicated point of contact.


Further, for your assurance, FC Exchange offers a Best Exchange Rate Guarantee and aims to provide clients with a service that is not only easy to use, but offers you peace of mind.

 Clients can contact FC Exchange’s Sam Edmanson on spe@fcexchange.co.uk  or to open a FREE no obligation trading facility (takes two minutes) click the following link and Sam Edmanson will be in touch to discuss any requirements https://secure.fcexchange.co.uk/register/personal

Pound Struggles – update from FC Exchange

As a continuation of last week’s theme, there is a lack of data to be released throughout the week ahead, market movements will be driven by consumer sentiment and of course the releases from across the pound and from within the bloc. Market participants will continue to dig deeper for clues regarding the referendum and the markets will be sensitive to the downside. Lower levels against the euro could be tested as we start the week marginally below the 1.25 (interbank) handle. We will have to wait until the end of the week before the first piece of discernible data is released with both manufacturing and industrial production numbers to be unveiled.

·         The ripples from the horrific events Brussels were still effecting the markets last week as the victims were mourned and the markets took a moment before managing to gain any momentum, the euro starting the week slowly and struggling against its peers.
·         Although household credit increased from 1.4% to 1.6% for February, it did little to change the general concern over a lack of domestic growth within the Eurozone.
·         We witnessed a mixed bag of data when both consumer and business confidence releases dented any positive moves to be made by the euro.
·         Thursday brought an end to an eventful month and quarter for the euro. German unemployment remained unchanged at record lows of 6.2%. The figure is all the more impressive when considering what is going on within the Eurozone as well as the present global economic slowdown.

The week ahead

We kick the week off with some high impact releases; the unemployment rate for the month of February is scheduled along with producer price index both year-on-year and month-on-month. These pieces of data are of course considered higher tier and a positive reading has the potential to enable to the euros recent Bull Run to continue. Tuesday we will see PMI figures released from a host of European nations and there is no rest for the wicked as Mario Draghi takes centre stage Thursday at the Portuguese President’s Council, in Lisbon, where he is Due to speak about the economic and financial situation in Europe. All in all, a big week for the Euro with the potential for new lows to be tested against the pound.

Why use FC Exchange?

FC Exchange is a foreign exchange specialist that typically saves clients up to 4% on exchange rates compared to transferring money internationally through a bank. FC Exchange is an FCA authorised E-Money institution (FRN: 900205), having a “higher” security permission with the Financial Conduct Authority than an authorised payments institution would.

FC Exchange provides a boutique-styled customer service, offering clients a single, dedicated point of contact.

Further, for your assurance, FC Exchange offers a Best Exchange Rate Guarantee and aims to provide clients with a service that is not only easy to use, but offers you peace of mind.
Clients can contact FC Exchange’s Sam Edmanson on spe@fcexchange.co.uk  or to open a FREE no obligation trading facility (takes two minutes) click the following link and Sam Edmanson will be in touch to discuss any requirements https://secure.fcexchange.co.uk/register/personal

10 Tips for renovating a property in France

From beautiful barns set within breathtaking landscape to commanding chateau with period features that captivate your heart, the idea of turning something that has been forgotten into a home is a dream of many.  Tackling a renovation in any country is not for the faint-hearted and issues can arise if you are in a country that is not your own that has different rules and regulations and where language could be a barrier.  But, don’t be frightened, these issues can be easily overcome.  If you’re passionate about renovating, about transforming a piece of French history and culture to be enjoyed by the next generation as well as provide you with your own little (or big) haven, we have put together our top 10 renovating tips to start you on the right path.

1. Research

Before you commit to purchasing a property undertake thorough research.  Find out as much as you can about the property and the area and talk to people in the local community.  We have a vast and gorgeous collection of properties ripe for renovation and our team are available to support your research and provide you a wealth of advice to help you on your renovating journey.  We will also put you in touch with builders, architects and surveyors (expertises) who will be able to answer all your questions to ensure you make the decisions that are right for you and the property.  Check what utilities are provided at the property, does it need a new septic tank, is there a supply of electricity for example?

2. DIY

There is a huge amount of satisfaction when completing a project yourself, but when renovating you need to be realistic, are you capable of undertaking all the tasks?  You need to have a clear vision as to what tasks will require professional help, as this will have an impact on your budget.  Even if you have renovated properties before, you need to be aware that materials and regulations can be different, therefore you need to bear in mind you may require the professionals more than normal.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 15.37.15

3. Budget

This is where expert knowledge could prove valuable, we will be able to give you a guide as to the costs of purchasing the property.  Renovating is often taking a step into the unknown as you don’t know what you will find, when you start to peel back the surface.  One of the biggest mistakes we see is people underestimating the costs, again be realistic and make sure you have a contingency plan in place for all those unknown extras.

4.  Finance

Make sure you have all your finances in place before you put in an offer, also look at the wealth of mortgages available to you, whether they are sourced in the UK or France.  We would also recommend you seek professional advice when looking to purchase a home in France.

5. Planning permission

Depending on the work required you may require planning permissions, we will be able to put you in touch with the right people to ensure that any application is dealt with in the appropriate manner.  Another point to note is that septic tanks also require permission to be installed, as you may need to replace an existing tank or install one.

6. Purchasing

Although you may be eager to start to turn your renovation into a home, you also need to protect yourself, should you not successfully receive all the necessary permits for any proposed changes – these are known as ‘permis de construire’ (building permit) and/or ‘déclaration de travaux’ (declaration for smaller renovation work – ask us about the difference).  Therefore, it is imperative that you build in a clause into the buying contract which in effect states that the purchase is subject to the above permits being received.

Screen Shot 2016-03-22 at 15.39.08

7. Choosing a tradesman

It is important that you choose a builder that is registered, if you use an unregistered builder you will have no recourse in the French legal system should something go wrong.  All registered French builders will have a Siret number which signifies TVA (VAT) registration and is issued by the Chamber of Commerce.  Other things to check are that they hold Décennale Insurance, which gives you a guarantee of their workmanship for up to 10 years, also Responsabilité Civile – basically, insurance cover should they accidently cause any damage to your property during the renovation.

8. The build

It is essential that you keep all documentation relevant to the build and this includes every single receipt, as some of these costs can be set against any perceived gains on your property for French Capital Gains Tax.  Make sure that you also take out Dommage et Ouvrage Assurance that will cover the builder should he have an accident on your property.  Put together a formal schedule with your builder and agree timescales and any penalties for being late.  Never pay all the fees in advance and build in payment points into the schedule. We can bring you in contact with the proper insurance companies, to make these arrangements a breeze.

9. Show respect

When designing your renovation, be respectful to your property’s surroundings and heritage. If you are going to paint a house in candy stripes as witnessed in Chelsea, you are sure to get yourself into trouble.  Seek your architects advice to make sure any changes can be dramatic (if you wish) whilst remaining sympathetic.

10. Passion

All renovations are projects of passion, therefore, if you are not passionate about the property and the area, you are not going to enjoy the process.  There is no doubt that the journey will be stressful at times but the reward will be completely worth it when you see the finished property and know you can now call it home.


15,5% Social contributions on French real estate income and capital gains : easy come, easy go….and easy come again !

15,5% Social contributions on French real estate income and capital gains : easy come, easy go….and easy come again !

Non-French tax residents[1] have been subject to 15,5% social contributions on their French real estate income and real estate capital gains since 2012. Thus, the taxation of real estate income and capital gains rose to a minimum of 35,5% and 34,5%, respectively.


Historically, French social contributions were not applied on wages derived by persons not affiliated with the French social security. However, the French tax authorities (FTA) continued to apply social contributions on capital income (including real estate income and capital gains) derived by French tax residents affiliated with a non-French social security system. Such social contributions on capital income are deemed to be taxes with a social nature for French tax purposes.


However, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided on February 26 2015 that French social contributions cannot apply to a person affiliated with a social security system in another country of the European Economic Area (EEA) or in Switzerland (ECJ, 26 février 2015, aff n°C-623/13, Ministre de l’économie et des finances c/ de Ruyter). In the case at hand, the ECJ ruled that a French tax resident affiliated with the Dutch social security system did not have to pay French social contributions on his capital income. The legal ground of this decision is regulation (EEC) n°1408/71, which states that people to whom the regulation applies shall be subject to the legislation of a single country only. This was confirmed by the French supreme administrative court on July 27 2015 (Conseil d’État, n° 334551, July 27 2015).


Since the non-French tax residents subject to social contributions on their real estate income and capital gains are in practice often affiliated with a non-French social security system, the ECJ’s decision “De Ruyter” is applicable to their case as well.


Consequently, the FTA recently confirmed the reimbursement upon request of unduly paid social contributions from 2013 to 2015[2], including social contributions paid on real estate income and capital gains derived by non-French tax residents. The beneficiaries of these reimbursements have to prove that they are affiliated with a social security system in another EEA country or in Switzerland.


The FTA stated that a 2% social levy applicable before January 1 2015 will not be reimbursed. This is based on the ground that this social levy did not finance the social security system, but the income support “revenu de solidarité active”. It seems that the fact that this income support is not provided on the condition that its beneficiaries have contributed to the French social security system[3] leads the FTA to think that the application of this particular social levy is not contrary to EU law. At the end of 2015, the French social legislation was also modified following the same idea in order to counter the ruling of the ECJ. Starting 2016, social contributions are mainly allocated to public funds that provide an income support to French tax residents without any condition for its beneficiaries to have contributed to the French social security system. Based on this change of allocation, the FTA will once again apply social contributions on the real estate income generated in 2015 and to capital gains derived since January 1st 2016 by tax residents of all EEA countries other than France and Switzerland.


The analysis of the applicable EU law suggests that the principle according to which a person shall be subject only to a single social security system, whether or not a social levy is contributory, will most likely apply regardless of the change of allocation. It is therefore doubtful that the government’s position with regard to the 2% social levy and the new legislation voted at the end of 2015 are compliant with EU law.


The right to claim back social contributions paid in 2016 expires on December 31 2018 for social contributions on real estate income and December 31 2017 for social contributions on capital gains[4]. Should the French supreme administrative court or the ECJ consider in the future that the qualification of social contributions as contributory or non-contributory is not relevant and consequently rules that the French legislation is not compliant with EU law, this will not reopen claim deadlines for taxpayers.



Aurélien Mallaret
Tax attorney (Avocat à la Cour)

@: aurelien.mallaret.avocat@gmail.com



This update contains information of general interest about current legal issues, but does not give legal advice.


[1] A “French tax resident” in this article means a resident of France for tax purposes, regardless of his nationality. A “non-French tax resident” is a resident of a country outside France for tax purposes, also regardless of his nationality.

[2] For reimbursement modalities, please see the following link (in French) : http://www.impots.gouv.fr/portal/deploiement/p1/fichedescriptive_7660/fichedescriptive_7660.pdf

[3] i.e. the social levy is “non-contributory”. If a social levy finances an income support for beneficiaries provided they were affiliated to a French security system, the social levy is deemed “contributory”.

[4][4] This deadline on December 31 2017 is the strict application of French tax rules regarding claim deadlines. Longer claim deadlines may be applicable depending from on the practice. Short claim deadlines are compliant with EU law only if they do not make the reimbursement of social contributions excessively difficult. Case law has not ruled as of now on this particular issue.

Joan of Arc ring returns to France after auction sale

From : http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-35728604


Joan of Arc ring returns to France after auction sale

    • 4 March 2016
Statue of Joan of Arc in Paris
Image copyrightAFP/Getty
The teenage Joan of Arc led armies against the English

A medieval ring said to have belonged to Joan of Arc, the French heroine who fought the English during the 15th Century, has returned to France after nearly 600 years in England.

The ring was bought by the Puy du Fou foundation, which runs a historical theme park in France, at auction in London for $425,000 (£300,000).

Joan gave it to an English cardinal before she was burned at the stake.

The Puy foundation said the ring’s return to France was highly symbolic.

Joan of Arc's ring
Image copyrightTimeline Auctions
Her ring was sold for $425,000
Joan of Arc's ring
Image copyrightTimeline Auctions
The inscription reads “Jesus and Mary”

The French heroine is thought to have handed the ring to England’s Cardinal Henry Beaufort on the eve of her execution in 1431.

It remained in England ever since, and there is thorough documentation to establish its provenance.

On Friday it was flown back to France.

Puy du Fou president Nicolas de Villiers told French TV it was a “glorious return” for a “French treasure”.

The foundation appealed to donors to help it bid enough for the ring, which will be officially unveiled this month.

The Puy du Fou foundation runs a historical theme park near Nantes in western France that attracts about two million visitors a year.

Who was Joan of Arc?

Painting of sleeping Joan of Arc
Image copyrightGetty Images

A teenage peasant girl-turned-war commander, Joan of Arc did her utmost to defeat English forces who had invaded France.

She advised the heir to the French throne and even led forces in war from 1429 until 1431, when she was captured.

The young heroine was then burned at the stake as a heretic and sorcerer by the English.

Battle for Joan of Arc’s legacy

Radio 4: The invention of Joan of Arc

Made in about 1400, the silver gilt devotional ring bears the inscription ‘IHS’ and ‘MAR’ for Jesus and Mary.

It matches the description Joan gave at her trial of the ring given to her by her parents and its connection to Joan has been documented for more than a century.

The ring was offered for sale by the son of James Hasson, a French doctor who came to the UK with General de Gaulle in World War Two, Timeline Auctions said. The doctor himself had bought the ring at auction in 1947 for £175.

The auctioneer initially estimated its value at between £10,000 and £14,000 ($14,000 and $20,000) – but it sold for almost 30 times that amount.

Brexit Concerns and impact on buying in France

It was rather like déjà vu yesterday as the pound continued to weaken, hitting fresh seven-year lows against the dollar and a 16 month low against the euro. With very little high tier data out yesterday, this move was entirely sentiment driven.

Currencies are valued against one another and, therefore, the performance of a currency signifies relative strength or weakness against another currency. At the moment, the UK economy is getting a lot of negative press, so investors in sterling are looking at it as a bad bet. UK Interest rates are very much on hold, growth figures have been revised down, interest rate cuts are potentially on the horizon, not to mention the EU referendum on the 23rd June.
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, weighed in yesterday and urged the UK to remain part of the EU, warning that both would suffer through a diminishment of trade, financial ties and transparency on migration.

Boris Johnson is the latest conservative big hitter to join the ‘Out Campaign’. With this move comes more uncertainty over the UKs membership in the EU and thus we have seen the pound react accordingly.
With June 23rd rapidly approaching, we are expecting a period of heightened volatility on GBP/EUR rates, are you prepared to gamble on the cost of your French property purchase?

Exchange rate risk

Sterling has lost over 10% in value in the last 3 months, but not just due to EU referendum uncertainty. We are being asked on a daily basis by our clients if the rates will rebound and the honest answer is that we a very unsure. A lot of our clients at FC Exchange are buying property in France and want to be able to budget, and know exactly what they are paying for their dream French property. One option for clients who are looking to avoid any exchange rate risk and uncertainly is to lock in their exchange rate with a Forward Contract. A forward contract with FC Exchange means you can fix an exchange rate for up to two years in advance, so you’ll know exactly how much money you’ll receive when making your final payment to France. This completely eliminates any uncertainty, gives you full peace of mind the rate is locked in and that the property can’t get any more expensive.

If you are concerned about the recent drop in GBP/EUR exchange rates, Terra France can arrange a currency consultation with their dedicated currency exchange partner who has been assisting clients buying in France for many year and is very much aware of the buying process. He can help answer any currency related questions, as well as helping with the process of safely and securely moving your funds overseas at a great exchange rate.

Contact Sam Edmanson on  020 7989 0000 or spe@fcexchange.com or register for a no obligation, free of charge trading account at https://secure.fcexchange.co.uk/register/personal

My Thoughts: Protection from Procrastination

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

– Arthur Ashe, (July 10, 1943 – February 6, 1993), American World No. 1 professional tennis player

Arthur Ashe, tennis champion.


Everyone has a project in the back of their mind they’ve been meaning to get to. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for delay, but more often than not, waiting for those elusive “perfect conditions” is actually procrastination in disguise.

Procrastination is a form of self-protection, however misguided. When we procrastinate, we’re protecting ourselves from failure or disappointment. In truth, we’re only setting ourselves up for greater heartbreak. When time runs out, we’ll look back and wonder: How might it have all turned out differently if we’d simply begun?

The act of beginning sparks a certain magic. In the book The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, this magic force is described as “The Force of Forward Motion”:

“Its power is the power of life itself. Everything that’s alive is evolving into the future with a sense of purpose– from a single organism to a species to the entire planet.

Dylan Thomas called it “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” The continuous existence of life over millions of years is a testament to the invincible strength of the Force of Forward Motion.”

When you begin, it is as if the universe conspires to give you more courage, more energy, and greater satisfaction than the mere avoidance of pain provides. Along the way we learn, we change, and we grow.

Nothing is really risk free. Release your desire for a perfect start and listen to Arthur Ashe: Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

I might also add: Be amazed at what you accomplish.

All the best for this week !



Gijs Van Breugel


Licensed real estate broker
Chartered Court Translator
Chartered Valuator
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