Unique Living
September 1st, 2014 | by Serge Cowan

Ultimate Property Buyers Guide to France

Purchasing a property in France is generally a relatively simple process and the following steps give a basic outline of how it is done.

Step 1:
Once a price for a French property is agreed upon, both the vendor and the purchaser sign an initial contract called the ‘compromis de vente’. This binds both parties subject to finances. It means that the vendor cannot accept another offer from a third party, however it also means that the purchaser cannot just pull out without risking losing their deposit.

There is however a cooling off period of 7 days and clauses can be written into the contract to ensure that certain conditions are met prior to the signing of the final contract. At the signing of a compromis the buyers have to put down a deposit of between 5 and 10%, which is paid to the notaire and kept by him/her until the signing of the final act. This can go towards the final notaire’s fees of 7%. The buyers will only get this deposit back if one of the clauses in the contract has not been met by the vendors, or if they get refused finance. Equally if the vendors pull out then they have to forfeit an amount which equals the deposit the buyers have put down.

The notaire is responsible for drawing up the compromis de vente. Within the contract you will see the full description and price of the property including, all plot numbers, plans, rights of way that may exist through the land, building restrictions and risk zones around the property. There should also be information about any outstanding mortgages, debts, or work to be carried out which had been agreed by the ‘co-propriété’ prior to the signing of the compromise de vente. The ‘co-propriété’ refers to apartment buildings where there is co-ownership of the communal areas and therefore shared repair and maintenance costs for corridors, lifts, gardens etc.

All of the relevant surveys should also be provided by the vendor at this stage of the sale.

Step 2:
The date of the final contract ‘acte de vente’ signing is usually 2 to 3 months after the signing of the ‘compromis de vente’, subject to the notaires checks and finances. You will be notified by the notaire of the date of the final sale completion. You do not have to be present at the final signing but it is preferable (you can sign a procuration beforehand).

The day of the signing you will receive the keys to the property and a paper confirming you as the new owners (the true deeds of the property will be passed onto you a few weeks after the signing day). You should have made sure that all funds had been transferred previous to the signing date and in the notaries account on the day of the signing. You will also need to make sure that you have transferred funds to pay the notaries fees. The notaries fees will already have been mentioned in the ‘compromis de vente’.

Purchases Expenses and Taxes:
The purchaser has to pay the notaire aprox 7%-10% of the price of the French property including taxes for his role in a sale. This amount has to be paid when the final ‘acte de vente’ is signed.

So if you are looking to purchase property in France then here you have pretty much all the basics covered, meaning that you can progress without fear of stumbling across any difficulties.

Serge Cowan

Serge Cowan

Managing Director and Founder

Serge has an extensive marketing background, after a broadcasting career, Serge moved into marketing where he worked for BSkyB & a number of leading Public Relations agencies.
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