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French Property - a Buyer's Guide to Purchasing Property in France

The Compromis

This document is the document you will sign agreeing to buy the property at the agreed price. It is signed by both vendor and purchaser and sets out all the details of the purchase price and fees.

Once signed there is an initial 7 day cooling off period, where the purchaser can pull out of the sale with no penalty. After this cooling off period the contract is binding for both vendor and purchaser, and a deposit is payable. The deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price.

The Compromis is a legal binding contract and to withdraw could result in your 10% deposit being lost. There are however classes that can be drawn up in the compromis that could allow withdrawal under certain circumstances, such as being declined a French mortgage.

To have the compromis drawn up you will need your passport, marriage/divorce papers, relevant details of paperwork if you are taking out a loan to purchase the property.

You should seek advice once you receive the compromis and if necessary have it translated by experts before you sign.

Surveys and inheritance advice

Once the compromis is signed and you have paid your deposit the Notaire then begins searches on the property, checking land boundaries, public rights of way, checks for termites are carried out as well as lead and asbestos checks. The Notaire is responsible for ensuring these are carried out and the vendor is responsible for these costs.

Unlike in the UK France does not always have surveys carried out on properties when sold. You can find surveyors in France who will offer this service, or alternatively a registered builder is often called in to offer his opinion. These are things that should be dealt with before your initial signing.

French Law with regard to inheritance is a complicated affair and you should consult legal advice on this matter.

The final signing

This is carried out in the Notaires office, if you are not able to be in France for the final signing it is possible to arrange power of attorney and have someone sign on your behalf. See legal representation on this matter

Ideally you should have seen the property on the day of the signing as there is a clause stating “sold as seen on the day of signing”. You will need to ensure that the transfer of the balance of payment has arrived in the Notaires account in time for the final signing, this date will have been agreed with the vendor in advance and it is obviously important that this is met, otherwise you could lose your deposit and more importantly the sale of the house. The sale can not be completed unless the money had cleared the Notaires bank account.

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