Buying a property in France is reasonably straightforward, never forgetting any possible language difficulties! In many ways the French system is better than the English and Irish system in that the seller is bound to sell you the property once the first contract has been signed, although you do not become the owner until the final contract is signed when all searches etc have been done. This two contract system is similar to that which is used in Scotland and has the advantage of securing the property to you whilst all the legal work is done by the Notaire (the Government employee and trained lawyer who carries out all the paperwork in connection with the sale and purchase). This two contract system protects the buyer from gazumping and from any change of mind on the part of the seller. If either party choose to withdraw from the transaction once the first contract has been signed they will forfeit 10% of the agreed purchase price.
Making An Offer
There are three stages involved in buying a property in France. Firstly, the making of an OFFER which needs to be made subject to any conditions which you consider to be essential to allow you to proceed with the purchase.
The Compromis De Vente
These conditions, known as CLAUSES SUSPENSIVES will then be elaborated when signing the first contract, the COMPROMIS DE VENTE, after which the buyer has a ten day cooling off period following which he or she will need to arrange transfer of the deposit monies, (usually 10%). Nowadays it is normal for both the OFFER and the COMPROMIS DE VENTE to be drawn up by the estate agent who will usually use pre-printed forms which are often in both French and English.
Once the COMPROMIS DE VENTE is signed, the deposit has been paid, and the cooling off period is over, the agent will pass the paperwork to the Notaire who will await the arrival of the deposit and then obtain and process all necessary documents to allow the transaction to take place.
The Acte De Vente
Finally, the third stage of the process will actually be the signing of the ACTE DE VENTE which normally takes place in the Notaire's office with all parties present. For this it is essential to ensure that the balance of the purchase price has arrived in the Notaire's account in time for the signing!
It all sounds simple and with the assistance of a good estate agent, such as our partner agents at Healey Fox, it should be. However, if you have complicated buying requirements it can be wise to invest in the services of a specialist in the U.K. to work with the Notaire to ensure that your purchase proceeds efficiently and safely.