Once you’ve found your dream home in France and agreed a price, it’s almost time for those champagne corks to start popping! But before that, there’s a little more to do – we’re talking about the legal transfer of the property from the seller to the buyer which involves paying a deposit (usually at least 10%) and (usually) two sets of paperwork:
The Compromis de Vente
The compromis, as the name suggests, is a legally binding promise between the buyer and seller, generally known in the UK as the Initial Contract. It will contain almost all of the information that will be in the later Acte de Vente (in the UK known as the Deed of Sale or Final Contract). The information will include at the very least:
- The details of the status of both buyer and seller – full names, dates and places of birth, marriage and divorce if applicable
- A description of the property including plot references (called cadastrales in France), land area including the buildings and a map showing the land and buildings
- The agreed price, the agency fee, the estimated legal fees (they’ll be confirmed later), duties and the amount of deposit to be paid
- The reasons for which the deposit could be forfeited and the obligations and declarations by the seller and buyer
- Copies of the diagnostic tests and results (read our guide to a French diagnostics report)
- Any suspensive clauses (special conditions) both standard and any others that have been mutually agreed
- An estimated date for the completion – this is not fixed and can be changed at a later stage, either earlier or later but is always set at a minimum of two months ahead to allow for the notaire “searches” which have a maximum of two months for a reply
- An inventory of any furniture that is to be included in the sale – with values if applicable.
10 Day cooling off period
The Compromis is signed by all parties involved and please be aware that this is in French!
A good English speaking agency will supply a “generic” translation (not including the specific terms of the contract) but this is not for signing, only for guidance.
The signing is followed by a 10 day “Cooling Off” period. This period starts at midnight on the first after the signing (unless that is a Sunday) and includes weekends and Bank holidays. During this time the buyer can withdraw from the sale without loss of the deposit.
Notice of withdrawal must be made in writing and sent by recorded delivery to either the notaire or the agency depending on who drew up the compromis. This is a rare occurrence.
The next stage is the Acte de Vente and after that – you’re home and dry!
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me via the The Good Life France
By Tim Sage, property expert and northern France local agent at Leggett Immobillier