5 ISSUES FOR £5 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

Buying property in France: the process explained

PUBLISHED: 17:19 01 April 2016 | UPDATED: 09:30 26 April 2016

Grignan, Drome

Grignan, Drome

Archant

Read our simplified guide to the French property buying process

Buying property in France is a strictly structured process. Follow our simplified guide to find out how it works - in a nutshell.

Agents & viewing

French estate agents must hold a carte professionnelle, which you can ask to see. They tend to give out less information about a property than their UK counterparts – for example, they’re unlikely to tell you a property’s address – and will usually accompany you on viewings.

Read more about viewings and negotiation

Notaires

A notaire must be used when any property or land is sold in France. In many ways a notaire is like a British lawyer, but they are employed by the French government to ensure a sale is above board and that all taxes are paid. Their fees are on a sliding scale of 6-8%, depending on the property’s value. Buyer and seller can share a notaire or appoint one each (in which case the notaires share the fees). Your agent can recommend a notaire or you can find one on the Notaires de France website.

Read more about the role of the notaire

Fees

Buying fees (frais) in France are high compared with the UK - agents’ and notaires’ fees combined usually amount to around 10-15% of the sale price (less for a new-build). Agents’ fees are normally paid by the purchaser. In adverts, FAI or frais inclus means fees are included, while net vendeur means they aren’t. Agents set their own rates.

The preliminary contract or compromis de vente

Once an offer has been accepted, both buyer and seller sign this legally binding contract, drawn up by the notaire. Conditional clauses (clauses suspensives) can also be included, but the seller is not obliged to accept these. Other initial contracts include the promesse de vente and promesse d’achat, but these are not legally binding. For a new-build bought off-plan, you sign a contrat de réservation.

Read more about the compromis de vente

The deposit and cooling-off period

A 10-day period then follows, during which time the buyer can pull out for any reason without penalty or loss of their deposit. The deposit is normally 10% of the sale price, paid either to the notaire or to the agent – never directly to the seller.

Read more about the cooling-off period

The deed of sale or acte de vente

At the end of the cooling-off period, both buyer and seller sign the deed of sale, usually in the notaire’s office. If the buyer cannot attend, they can appoint power of attorney to someone else to sign on their behalf. The balance of the sale price is paid, as well as agents’ and notaires’ fees. If any repairs or replacements are required in the property, the notaire can hold back part of the final sum to pay for them. The notaire gives the buyer an attestation de vente, registers the property with the land registry (cadastre) and final ownership papers are posted around six months later. Ideally, you should view the property on the day of completion as it is sold as seen.

Read more about completion

Surveys and reports

Surveys are not commonplace in France, but you can arrange one with a British surveyor working across the Channel, or with a builder or architect. You need to organise this before the preliminary contract becomes binding, or alternatively you may be able to insert a conditional clause stating that the sale is dependent on a successful survey. Vendors are required to provide a series of reports (diagnostiques) on lead, asbestos, termites, gas installations, electrics, waste drainage and natural and technological risks. The DPE report, showing a property’s energy efficiency, has been compulsory for all house sales since January 2011.

Read more about surveys

Read more about diagnostique reports

Enjoy this? Read our other articles on:

Why you should buy in France

How to decide where to buy in France

5 things you need to know before you buy

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Complete France visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Complete France staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Complete France account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from French Property

Monday, June 25, 2018

Thinking of installing a swimming pool at your French property? Here’s all you need to know about the types of pools, planning permission rules, maintenance and safety rules

Read more
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Renovation projects often come with a very attractive price tag, but how do you know the work needed to make it your dream home won’t end up costing you a fortune? Here are 7 things to think about before buying a property to renovate in France

Read more
Renovating in France
Monday, September 4, 2017

Conditions for mortgage borrowers in France remain very favourable thanks to the election of President Macron, so is a mortgage a good option for British buyers?

Read more
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Currency exchange is an important aspect of buying a home in France and using a market order to time your currency purchase could save you money

Read more
Thursday, March 22, 2018

At a loss over losing money when you need to send cash back home? It’s a common problem for expats who are getting stung by excessive fees and hidden charges from banks. With CurrencyFair, an online marketplace, secure transactions are made faster and far cheaper

Read more
Monday, March 5, 2018

Once a price has been agreed, the buyer and seller of a French property sign a preliminary contract, the compromis de vente. Here is everything you need to know about this legally binding contract

Read more
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

If you want to give someone the power to act on your behalf in France, whether to sign your property purchase documents or if you lose mental capacity, you’ll need to apply for the French equivalent of power of attorney

Read more
Friday, June 8, 2018

If you are retiring to France then make sure you understand all the options for your UK pension and how much tax you might pay

Read more
Thursday, April 19, 2018

It is a common view that you pay very high taxes in France, so you might be surprised to learn that moving to France could actually cut your tax bill rather than increase it

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Looking for a house in France? From Provençal villas to fully furnished farmhouses, here is a selection of beautiful French properties on the market in July you will love.

Read more
French property for sale
Subscribe today

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

France Forum

Questions about France? Visit our free France forum to get help and advice from thousands of other Francophiles and expats. Topics include: property, tax, law, travelling, pets, education, healthcare and much more.

Join the forum

Most Read

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now