Living France - - Property Directory -

Ven­dor and buyer agree on the price and terms of con­tract, in­clud­ing any con­di­tional clauses ( clauses sus­pen­sives) and any fur­ni­ture in­cluded in the sale.

If it’s a pri­vate sale, it is un­wise to rely on the ven­dor to sup­ply ac­cu­rate an­swers to all ques­tions. Some in­for­ma­tion is best ob­tained from the lo­cal town hall; for other queries, con­sult the rel­e­vant author­i­ties or call in an ex­pert.

Agent’s fees ( les frais d’agence) are usu­ally in­cluded in the price and as such, paid by the buyer. Check this is the case. The no­taire’s fixed fees plus tax ( les frais de no­taire) are also usu­ally paid by the buyer and are on top of the pur­chase price. When buy­ing pri­vately, there will be no agent’s fees but no­taire’s fees will still ap­ply.

The pre­lim­i­nary sales con­tract ( com­pro­mis de vente) is drawn up by the agent or no­taire and signed by both par­ties. If the buyer is buy­ing pri­vately from a ven­dor, it’s the no­taire who draws up the con­tract.

The buyer pays the de­posit (usu­ally 5-10% of the pur­chase price) to the no­taire and a seven-day cool­ing off pe­riod en­sues, dur­ing which the buyer can with­draw (but the ven­dor can­not) and af­ter which the con­tract is legally bind­ing. If the buyer pulls out af­ter this, he for­feits his de­posit.

If you are go­ing to buy with a mort­gage, now is the time to put in your ap­pli­ca­tion. How­ever, it is wise to ap­ply for a mort­gage in prin­ci­ple be­fore you start your prop­erty hunt, to avoid dis­ap­point­ment later.

If you are tak­ing out a mort­gage, this will be a con­di­tion of the pre­lim­i­nary sales con­tract, giv­ing you the pos­si­bil­ity of pulling out should your ap­pli­ca­tion be turned down. Once the of­fer is of­fi­cial, it will be con­firmed to the no­taire and the con­tract be­comes un­con­di­tional.

The no­taire han­dles the con­veyanc­ing, which typ­i­cally takes two to three months. When all the pa­per­work is ready, the no­taire con­firms the date and time of the sign­ing of the acte de vente.

Re­ports on lead, as­bestos and flood zones (and in some ar­eas, ter­mites) are manda­tory; the ven­dor pays for these. An en­er­gy­ef­fi­ciency re­port (known as a DPE, or di­ag­nos­tic de per­for­mance én­ergé­tique) is now also manda­tory, while a nat­u­ral dis­as­ter risk re­port ( état des risques na­turels et tech­nologiques) has to be pro­vided in ad­di­tion. It spec­i­fies whether the prop­erty is within an area where there is a risk of flood­ing or other nat­u­ral or tech­no­log­i­cal dis­as­ter or ac­ci­dent.

The prop­erty has to be in­sured in the buyer’s name from the date of com­ple­tion.

The buyer trans­fers the bal­ance of pay­ment to the no­taire prior to com­ple­tion. On the day of com­ple­tion, all par­ties meet the no­taire to sign the con­tract (the buyer can ap­point a proxy). Keys and an at­tes­ta­tion de vente are handed over and own­er­ship is trans­ferred. The fi­nal acte de vente pa­pers are sent out around six months later.

Buy­ing a busi­ness fol­lows much the same pro­ce­dure as buy­ing prop­erty with the added fac­tor of good­will, or fonds de com­merce. The lo­cal cham­ber of com­merce can of­fer ad­vice as well as sta­tis­tics to ver­ify a busi­ness’s po­ten­tial prof­itabil­ity. Make sure that the busi­ness is le­git­i­mate and prop­erly reg­is­tered by check­ing its SIREN or SIRET num­ber. Seek pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tancy and le­gal ad­vice be­fore pro­ceed­ing with the sale.




Be­fore buy­ing a plot of land you should check the lim­ite de la zone con­structible – even if the plot is large, you might only be per­mit­ted to con­struct on a lim­ited part of it. The plan lo­cal d’ur­ban­isme (PLU) is avail­able at the mairie and will tell you what size prop­erty can be con­structed on the plot. The PLU will also state whether the plot is a ter­rain de loisirs, which means that you can­not build on the land.

Do check the records of the prop­erty and land be­fore mak­ing an of­fer; be clear about bound­aries, rights of way and ac­cess.

Do take le­gal ad­vice on in­her­i­tance law.

Do view the prop­erty on the day of com­ple­tion be­fore sign­ing the acte de vente, which spec­i­fies that the pur­chase is ‘sold as seen’.

Do pre­pare any per­sonal as­sets you in­tend to use for the pur­chase (eg give no­tice for any sav­ings to with­draw, sell se­cu­ri­ties, etc).

Do shop around in ad­vance for the best cur­rency ex­change rate deals.

Do re­mem­ber to open a French bank ac­count and make your mort­gage ap­pli­ca­tion in good time.

Do visit the No­taires de France web­site. It has lots of help­ful in­for­ma­tion in English.­


Don’t be tempted to sign a sales con­tract un­less you are sure; once the cool­ing-off pe­riod is over, it is legally bind­ing and if you pull out you will lose your de­posit.

Don’t for­get that the no­taire will make a charge of 6.5-10% in ad­di­tion to the pur­chase price (this amount is dif­fer­ent for new builds). The cheaper the prop­erty, the higher the per­cent­age charged; this amount con­sists of the no­taire’s fixed fees and tax.

Don’t for­get to al­low for the ex­pense of an in­ter­preter be­ing present if your French lan­guage skills are poor; ask your agent or no­taire about this, as they may be able to help.

For thou­sands of prop­er­ties for sale visit our mar­ket-lead­ing web­site France Prop­erty Shop

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