FRENCH COAST & VALLEYS - Property agents for Normandy and Pays de la Loire
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Once you have decided on your area of France, you need to decide upon your budget.  You may wish to fund your purchase with a French mortgage.  We can put you in touch with our mortgage partners. 

Buying a property in France may appear to be a complex process especially if you do not speak French and do not understand the French legal system.  We totally understand and therefore our mission is to ensure a smooth, stress free purchase for our clients, every step of the way.

Once you have agreed the purchase, the next step is to sign the compromis de vente. This is a legally binding first contract between the buyer and the seller.  The seller is legally bound to sell you the property at the agreed price.  We will assist you during the signing of this document.

This first contract also lays out a timescale and this is when you pay the deposit, which is normally 10% and paid directly to the notaire (public official acting on behalf of the French government who draws up the final deeds, carries out necessary searches and ensures necessary taxes are paid to the French government and sale proceeds legally) or agent (never to the vendor of the property!). 

You are not immediately committed to the sale as you have a 7 day “cooling off” period to withdraw from the sale without penalty. This 7 day “cooling off” period officially starts once both parties have signed the compromis de vente.  

If you choose to withdraw from the sale (without a pre-agreed get out clause - condition suspensive – eg sale dependant on planning permission being granted or a mortgage application being approved) in the compromis de vente, your deposit will not be returned.

The whole system works extremely well as the seller cannot accept a higher price from another buyer, avoiding gazumping and also prevents the “chain” system.

Attached to the compromis de vente will be a number of reports, which the seller is responsible for organising via an independent expert.  These reports can include:

  • Asbestos report
  • Lead report (paintwork only)
  • Energy report
  • Gas report
  • Termite report (depending on départment)
  • Risk report (natural and/or technological)
  • Exact square metre surface area (apartments/co-ownership only)

Once the compromis de vente has been signed, the deposit paid and the 7 day cooling off period expired, the notaire then verifies all the details, conducting necessary searches such as:

  • the ownership of the property and the right to sell the property
  • any eventual rights of way or easements
  • planning permissions conform if extensive works have been carried out on the property
  • land boundaries
  • confirmation that local authorities, (such as SAFER) have waived any priority rights on the sale
  • in the instance of tenants, confirmation that they have waived their priority rights on the sale
  • If you are funding the property with a mortgage, the notaire will liaise with the bank for confirmation of the mortgage approval.

This process takes up to 2-3 months and once completed he will draw up the Acte Authentique de Vente (final deed of sale).  We will propose a date for signing and confirm the final balance due in order for you to organise money transfers in time the sale to complete.   

It is also important during this process to discuss your inheritance requirements with the notaire.  We use a number of English- speaking notaires who can advise you before the drawing up of the final deed.

You will also need to think about property insurance, as this is a requirement by French law that your property is insured from the day of signing.  We can also organise this for you via one of our partner insurers if you wish.

Acte Authentique de Vente

We strongly recommend being present at the final signing and we will assist you during the final signing.  This takes place at the notaire’s office.   We work with many bilingual notaires who will read through the deed and explain the meaning of its contents and any clarifications required are raised at this point.  (We can arrange for a qualified translator to be present (for an extra fee) if you feel it is necessary).  You will be liable for local taxes and usually there is a pro-rata refund to the vendor on the day of the final signing. The notaire normally communicates this with the final balance although sometimes it is settled after the final signing.  Once the final deed has been signed by both parties, the notaire will provide you with a certificate of sale to prove you are now the legal owner of the property and, at this point, the vendor will hand over the keys!  The full copy of the deed of sale must be registered and published with the authorities, and this can take up to 5 months to complete.  You will receive a copy at this point for your records.

Attending the final signing is also the opportunity to visit the property before hand, check any items that are to be left behind and generally go through any equipment/utilities with the vendor

We will organise the transfer of utility services by notifying the service providers.  We can also help you set up bank accounts, internet connections, etc to make it as smooth as possible for you.  We consider these services as part of the sale and therefore are included in the agent’s fee that you pay on completion.  We do not charge extra for these services.

We do understand that it is not always possible to attend and in which case you can organise a power of attorney to be drawn up.   We will need to know well in advance as this will need to be translated and witnessed by a public notary when you sign it.

Post sale, you may need assistance to carry out works to the property such as extension, adding a swimming pool, converting a barn etc.  We can help you and recommend necessary “artisans” or workman and liaise with the local Mairie, etc.  We do charge a fee for this but will agree this in advance to cover the work involved.

As Fully approved members of Socaf (Société de caution mutuelle des professions immobiliere et foncieres), you can be reassured a professional code of conduct is adhered to in protecting the interest of our buyers and vendors. 


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