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A guide to the buying process, plus properties for sale and to let in France
Vendor and buyer agree on the price and terms of contract, including any conditional clauses ( clauses suspensives) and any furniture included in the sale.
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 10-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 energy-efficiency 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 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.