3 simple steps to French property ownership
1 Property viewings The property market is strictly regulated in France and estate agents must hold a carte professionnelle – you can ask to see it if it’s not on display. Agents tend to accompany househunters on viewings.
2 Initial contracts Once an offer has been accepted, the buyer/s and seller/s sign a legally binding sales contract, usually called the compromis de vente. There then follows a 10-day cooling-off period, during which time the buyer can pull out for any reason without penalty.
A deposit (usually 10%) is paid at this stage, to the notaire or into the agent’s escrow account (never directly to the vendor).
3 Completion The conveyancing process usually takes around three months and is carried out by the notaire. It is followed by the signing (by the buyer/s and seller/s) of the deed of sale or acte de vente, usually in the notaire’s office. If the buyer can’t attend, they can appoint power of attorney to someone else to sign on their behalf.
The balance of payment is made to the notaire at completion, along with agency and notaire’s fees. The notaire gives the new owner/s an attestation de vente and final ownership papers are posted around six months later.