What’s Next? Ten Steps to Buying your French Property

Written by: Graham Gilbert Date: 20 March 2008

  1. Make sure you sign-up with French Property Centre: you will have your own area within the site where you can communicate directly with our agents. You can register your search criteria and receive e-mail alerts when suitable properties come onto the market.
  2. Get your finances in place before you start – this will allow you to move quickly when our agents find the house of your dreams. See our list of Mortgage Providers.
  3. Arrange to view suitable properties directly with our agents. If you wish to have independent legal advice you can contact a firm of English solicitors specialising in French property or choose your own English-speaking notaire in France .
  4. Check you can afford a property you like! Does the price include the agency’s commission (around 5-10%)? French Property Centre asks its agents to display property prices with their commission included i.e. FAI (frais d’agence inclus) or CC (charges comprises) but always double check that this is the case. If a price is ‘net vendeur’ this means the agency’s commission is not included – in which case you need to know if it is you or the vendor who will pay it. Also ask the agent how much the Notaire’s fees will be – these are fixed by a national ‘barème’ or sliding scale and can add between 6-10% for a resale property, or between 2-4% for a new-build.
  5. Put in an offer and, if you feel the need, get the property checked over by an English surveyor in France.
  6. Sign the ‘Compromis de Vente’ or preliminary sales agreement and pay your 10% deposit (5% for new-build). See our list of Currency Exchange specialists so you pay commercial rates rather than high street bank rates. Insert into the ‘compromis’ any ‘conditions suspensives’ or get-out clauses which will enable you to withdraw from the purchase if the conditions are not met. A condition suspensive could be that you are granted a ‘CU’ or certificat d’urbanisme (planning permission) to convert outbuildings into gites, or that your application for a French mortgage is successful.
  7. You now have a 7-day cooling-off period – the vendor does not. During this period you can withdraw from the purchase (in writing and by recorded delivery) for any reason whatsoever and be refunded your deposit in full.
  8. Wait between 2 and 3 months for the notaire(s) to complete the conveyancing. You will be asked to transer the remaining balance (including notaire’s fees) to the notaire.
  9. Return to France for completion: sign the Acte Authentique de Vente (deed of sale) in the notaire’s office along with the vendor - If you wish you can grant power of attorney for someone else to sign on your behalf. After checking that you have insurance in place on your property, the notaire will give you an ‘attestation de vente’ (proof of sale) and hand over the keys to your new home. The notaire will keep the original deed, your certified copy will be sent to you up to 6 Months later.
  10. Open the champagne – just don’t forget where you put those keys!

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