3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to France Magazines today click here

Explained: the compromis de vente

PUBLISHED: 15:24 05 March 2018 | UPDATED: 15:24 05 March 2018

The compromis de vente property contract explained © AntonioGuillem Thinkstockphotos

The compromis de vente property contract explained © AntonioGuillem Thinkstockphotos


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

Ann Edmondson guides buyers and sellers through the practical elements of setting up life in France. Contact: ann@auctus.co.uk

What is the compromis de vente?

Of the two contracts that buyers normally sign in the French conveyancing process, the preliminary contract (the compromis de vente) is no doubt the most important. It is in this contract that all the requirements, wishes and needs of the purchaser must be expressed so that both vendor and purchaser understand the time frame within which the conveyance can be completed.

After deciding on a property, you will normally make either a verbal or written offer of purchase. Since the SRU Law of 2000, it is forbidden to hand over payment in any form, including cash, bank transfer or cheque at this stage.

Your offer should contain a succinct description of any specific needs and requirements you may have and, even if accepted by the vendor, the ‘real’ acceptance will usually be the signing by both parties of the preliminary sales contract. These specific needs will be included as clauses suspensives (let-out clauses) in the preliminary sales contact.

Once signed by both the buyer and the seller, the compromis de vente is immediately binding on the vendor and becomes binding on the purchaser after a 10-day period of reflection.


Don’t miss

The legal process of buying a French property

Should you get a survey before buying a French property?


What are clauses suspensives?

One example of a clause suspensive is the need for attaining planning permission, such as for the building of an extension, installing a pool, changing the use of the property, or creating the use of the property, or creating an easement/right of way across a neighbour’s property. Another example may be the need to make an application for a mortgage. As you will need planning permission or the agreement of your bank to proceed on the property, these conditions must be included in the contract. In the event that your requirements aren’t met, it will be possible for you to pull out of the purchase without any penalties.

Once you have agreed the terms of the contract, it is only with the express agreement of the vendor, if at all, that the purchaser will be able to make any changes. The vendor may request a financial compensation for any changes they agree to, especially if it delays the date on which they will receive their payment of the sale.

Obligations of the vendor

The Alur Law of 2014 introduced and underpinned certain obligations of the vendor. Although vendors had hitherto been under obligation to disclose in good faith all information concerning the property, they now have the obligation to do so prior to the signing of the preliminary sales contract.

For example, if the purchaser intends to acquire a property with a sea view, the vendor is obliged to disclose if they are aware of any construction project that will obstruct that view – although the project will normally be revealed in the town planning searches that are carried out by the notaire after the signing of the preliminary sales contract.

Other examples of the statutory obligation include the disclosure of any building works that have been carried out without required building permission, as well as the provision of documentation concerning any co-ownership rules if the property is situated in a co-ownership.


Don’t miss

French property buying contracts: a brief guide

The differences between buying a property in France and the UK


Obligations of the purchaser

Although as a purchaser you have certain rights of protection, you also have certain obligations. You have the obligation to inform the vendor of any applications that will be made so that the vendor has a clear understanding of the timeframe of the completion of the sale – and therefore when they will be paid. The vendor may be in a hurry to sell the property and may not be able to wait for the conditions of the purchaser to be met.

Additional requests

If the purchaser needs to include any additional or omitted desires between the signing of the preliminary sale contact and the completion contract, this will necessitate a modification of the preliminary sales contract – possibly triggering new negotiations with the vendor, rejection by the vendor or the demand of compensation payments if the modifications means that the payment is delayed.

Drafting the contract

In a simple sale where the purchaser has no particular requirements, the preliminary sale contract may be drawn up by the estate agent. However, bear in mind that the agent may be keen to have the sale signed and it’s possible that they won’t have all the necessary skills of knowledge to talk you through the process.

It is highly recommended that you seek advice from either your solicitor who is well versed in French law or the notaire who will be handling your property purchase in France.

Like this? You might enjoy:

I wish I’d known that before buying my French property

6 things to consider before you sign for a French property

The best places to buy a bargain property in France

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, July 23, 2018

Dealing with a loved one dying is difficult in any circumstances, let alone in a different country. To simplify the process as much as possible, here are the administrative procedures and legalities you need to know about when dealing with a death in France

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
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
Wed, 11:52

The sunshine, wine and way of life are wonderful but there are days when you wonder why you chose to be an estate agent in rural France. Here are some funny things that have happened to agents at Beaux Villages

Read more
Selling French property
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