Viager: The French Connection

Viager is France's forerunner to a reverse mortgage.  

House rich/cash poor elders may sell their home and remain living in it until their death and receive payments from the buyer who gains title of the home upon the seller's death, in what is called buying "en viager." This transaction is most similar to Life Estates in the US; the seller becomes, the "life tenant" and the buyer becomes the "owner."
Viagers are not unheard of in the United States, but still quite rare, and professionals who can advise on them are few and far between. 

The Viager concept dates as far back as 879 AD! 

The BBC reports (July 1, 2015): 

In a viager deal, the buyer pays a knock-down price - but only takes possession when the owner dies.

What complicates matters is that the buyer must pay the former owner (now the tenant) a monthly fee for the duration of their natural life - which could be months, years or even decades.

"Typically, sellers are 70-80 years old, and female," says Mikkael Ferrand (below, right) of Viager 75, an agency based in the Paris's smart 5th arrondissement. 

Mikkael Ferrand of Viager 75 (BBC)"selling en viager is the only way they can pay the bills and still stay in their home."

Viagers have shown up as a plot element in various movies and TV shows, most recently in My Old Lady (2014) featuring Kevin Kline:

(we need to explain the difference between this and a Life Estate / "Charitable Remainder Trust". Anyone got any good resources/examples/diagrams to share?)


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