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French property buying contracts: a brief guide

PUBLISHED: 15:22 18 January 2018

French property buying contracts © Ridofranz / Thinkstockphotos

French property buying contracts © Ridofranz / Thinkstockphotos


From a compromis de vente to a promesse de vente, there are a number of contracts that you might have to sign when buying a French property. Here’s a brief guide to the most common sale contracts and what that mean

Compromis de vente

This is the most common form of contract, signed by both buyer/s and vendor/s, after the price has been agreed. It is legally binding for the vendor right away. The purchaser has a 10-day cooling-off period, after which he/she too is also bound to the contract. The purchaser can only withdraw if one of the suspensive conditions in the contract is not fulfilled.

Promesse de vente

The vendor/s commits to sell the property at an agreed price, usually giving the buyer/s three months in which to proceed. The buyer may not be certain they want to proceed but wants to reserve the property, perhaps while certain matters are ironed out.

Promesse d’achat

The buyer/s commits to buy the property at an agreed price, allowing the vendor a certain period of time in which to accept the offer, after which both parties are bound.

Contrat de réservation

The contract used for a new property bought off-plan. Although the word ‘réservation’ is used, this is nevertheless binding on the purchaser, who will lose his deposit if he withdraws after the 10-day cooling-off period.

Acte de vente/acte authentique

The final contract or deed of sale, signed by buyer/s and vendor/s, and witnessed by a notaire. This completes the agreement made at the contract stage and ownership is transferred to the buyer.

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