Buying a property in France

Buying a property in France

Buying a property in France

One of the key things to buying a property in France is that the process is highly regulated ensuring you are well protected.

Once you have viewed a property and want to make an offer you will find the advertised price generally will include the net vendor price plus agency fees usually payable by the buyer but in some cases by the seller. On top of this price you need to budget for notaire fees (approx. 8%) so please consider this when negotiating.

You can get a quote for the notaire fee from the official notaire’s website here:

Notaire fees are fixed & normally over estimated (a few hundred euros) so you can be assured of no extra hidden costs plus it is a nice bonus when you receive something back with your deeds.

The notaire’s role is to ensure all the legal documentation is complete and correct to French law. There can be 2 separate notaire’s involved if requested with the same fee.

Once you have an agreed offer the compromis de vente is drafted which will include personal details of the buyers & sellers, a breakdown of purchase price including notaire, agency fee, net vendor price with furniture breakdown, if negotiated. Deposit amount, servitudes (if applicable) and any other conditions agreed such as mortgage, planning permission, etc.

You should consider a currency broker and a French bank account at this stage.

The compromis de vente can be signed outside of France where in normal circumstances the original contract and reports must be signed or a procuration put in place. However, many agencies and notaires are now offering the CDV process electronically making this process extremely quick & efficient. Once signed by all parties it will become legally binding and a 10 day cooling off notification will be sent to the buyer where a deposit of 10% must be transferred (if cash purchase) at the end of this period to the notaires escrow account provided.

The process from offer to deposit can take some time due to diagnostics being carried out, registered notification, etc. It is recommended to sign a ‘promise to buy’ whilst awaiting the initial contract to ensure commitment from all parties. You should fully understand what is in your contract and what your obligations are if selling or buying property in France. On average the purchase process takes 3-4 months due to the lengthy paperwork, notification periods etc that need to legally take place. In exceptional cases a fasttrack fee can be paid, this must be discussed with the agent, seller and notaire to know if this is possible.

Once all the paperwork is in place for the final contract the notaire will propose a date for the acte de vente. When a date is agreed by all parties the balance must be transferred prior to the day of the acte otherwise the contract cannot be finalised.

The acte de vente normally takes place with all parties present at the notaire’s office. This is a happy occasion for the formal handover of keys and final signing. It is common now that this is done digitally.

It is normal practise to visit the property just prior to the acte to inspect the house and take meter readings for the transfer of services.

If any parties cannot be present a procuration can be signed, generally this must be witnessed by a legal representative. This needs to be done in plenty of time and received by the notaire in time for the acte de vente.

You must be aware that all contracts and reports are in French, it is worth asking if your notaire speaks English and/or an explanation of the documents via a sworn translator. Most notaires will insist on the presence of a translator for the acte de vente and a fee will be expected. Generally, a French spoken agent will be able to assist you with the initial contract, reports and a generic translation will be provided.

Be assured you will have the best service possible to assist you in buying your dream home.



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