I’ve found my dream French property, but just how do I buy it?

Written by: Graham Gilbert Date: 27 November 2006

When the estate agent has accepted your offer on behalf of the Vendor you will sign a preliminary contract with the agent. For an existing property this is called a Compromis de Vente, if your property is still under construction (VEFA – Vente en Etat Future d’Achèvement) you will sign a Contrat de Réservation.

This preliminary contract commits both parties to the transaction at the stated price – so there is no gazumping. You also have a seven-day cooling off period after signing during which you can withdraw from the agreement - without giving reason - and incur no penalty. There is no such luxury for the vendor.

You can also insert a number of conditions suspensives into the contract, these are let-out clauses which will ensure your deposit is returned should you not be accorded a mortgage or planning permission to build gîtes for example.

After your seven-day grace period, you pay a deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price for older properties and between 2% and 5% for properties under construction. You should make this cheque payable to the Notaire who will deposit it in an escrow account until he distributes it at completion.

The Notaire then starts his land use, conveyance and lien searches. The vendor is obliged to commission an expert to inspect his property and prepare reports on the presence or otherwise of lead paint, asbestos and, in some regions, termites.

When the Notaire has finished his searches (before the date you have agreed with the vendor for completion) you will be able to make your final payment of the balance due and sign the Acte Authentique de Vente (Deed of Sale) at the Notaire’s office.

You are now the proud owner of your new French home!

We'd love to hear from you!

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