A to Z to French Terms for Homebuyers

Useful A to Z of Words and Terms

If you're planning to buy property in France, it's essential to familiarise yourself with the different terms used in the real estate industry. Whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned investor, understanding these French words and expressions can help you navigate the buying process more effectively. In this article, we'll go through some of the key terms and expressions that you need to know, from A to Z.

Starting with "A," we have "achat," which means "purchase" or "buying." This term is essential when discussing property transactions in French. Next, we move on to "bien immobilier," which translates to "real estate." This term encompasses all types of properties in France, including houses, apartments, castles and land.

Moving on to the letter "C," we have "compromis de vente," which is the equivalent of a sales agreement or contract. This document outlines the terms and conditions of the property purchase and is a crucial step in the buying process. Another important term is "diagnostic immobilier," which refers to the various inspections and surveys required before purchasing a property. These inspections assess the condition of the property and identify any potential issues.

Finally, we have "zone urbaine," which translates to "urban area." This term is particularly for those interested in buying property in cities or towns. It refers to areas that are designated for urban development, characterised by a higher population and more amenities. We hope this is useful, feel free to share and if you are actively looking, please get in touch and tell us about your project in France.

List of Translated Words for Property Buyers

Abonnement - The standing charge for supplying a utility/subscription.
Achèvement des Fondations - Foundations laid for a new property.
Achèvement des Travaux - Works completed on a new building.
Acte Authentique - The final contract, completion contract.
Acte de Vente - Another term used for the final contract, completion contract.
Agent Immobilier – An estate agent / realtor with full training and carte professionelle
Agent Commercial – An independent agent working for an agency
Amiante – Asbestos, always inspected in the compulsory surveys
Annuaire – a directory of services with contact names, emails and websites. Take a look at ALLO FRENCH for example.
Assurance HabitationHome & contents insurance, this is compulsory on completion date
Attestation - Confirmation that a transaction has taken place/certificate.
Bon de Visite - A form signed by the person viewing a property to confirm that they have visited it with an agent.
Bon pour Achat - Form stating your intention to buy a property.
Bureau de Change - Where you can convert and transfer money electronically
Carte de Séjour - French resident permit (not required for EU nationals)
Carte Professionnelle - A licence to work within a profession that is regulated e.g. French estate agents.
Certificat d’Urbanisme - Permission for change of use of a property or outbuildings
Clause Suspensive - A condition which a contract is subject to; unless and until this is satisfied in the contract is irrevocable.
Compromis de Vente - The first contract of reservation on a property.
Co-propriétaires - The co-owners who are freeholders in a complex or block of apartments and make up a tenants’ association.
Co-propriété - A residence, complex or building which is split up into separate and physically distinct apartments. A co-ownership.
Courtier d'Assurance - Insurance Broker and services, learn about insurance in France
Delai de Rétractation - the cooling off period is 10 days from the date the compromis de vente was signed
Dépôt de Garantie
 - A deposit amount towards a property purchase, usually around 10%.
Droit de Pré-emption - Right to pre-empt, i.e. of the authorities to purchase a property in priority to the proposed buyer.
Etat Civil - Personal information provided by the buyer of a property for inclusion within the compromis.
Facture - A bill, e.g. a utility bill or an invoice
FAI - means 'frais d'agence inclus' = including the estate agency fees
Fosse Septique - Septic tank, find out if yours is up to currents standards.
Frais de Notaires - Legal purchase fees paid to the Notaire, they include the stamp duty. Estimate fees.
HT or Hors taxes - Tax not included.
Lu et Approuvé - Read and approved.
Mairie - The town hall - in small towns.
Maison de Tourisme - A tourist office.
Notaire - Legally qualified person and government representative empowered to convey property in France and collect taxes.
Outils - Tools, here's a list of French tools translated into English on our sister website.
Permis de Construire - building permit in France
Plan Cadastral
- A map showing the land and boundaries
Plan de Masse
 - A plan of the building site.
- Lead, always inspected in the compulsory surveys
Préfecture - The HQ of the administration, found in the main city of the département for ID cards, driving licences and passports.
Prêt Immobilier - French mortgage or a loan for a property
Procuration - Power of attorney or proxy.
Remise des Clés - Handing over the keys of an off-plan property.
RIB / Relevé d'Identité Bancaire - Document showing your bank details
SAFER - Means the "land development and rural establishment society" designed to protect and control land in rural areas.
Société Civile Immobilière (SCI) - A French property holding company in whose name a property may be purchased.
SPANC - Service Public d’Assainissement Non Collectif) - report stating if a septic tank meets environmental standards.
Taxe Foncière
 - Land or property tax payable by owner.
Taxe d’Habitation - Tax on a residential dwelling and second homes payable by the occupier.
Tontine Clause - Purchase option on inhertiance to avoid forced heirship to French property.
Tout a l'Egout - Connected to local main sewage system.
TTC or Toutes Taxes Comprises - All tax are included.
TVA - French equivalent of VAT. The standard rate of tax is currently 20%, learn about TVA on our French Business Directory.
Urgences - emergency services when things go wrong. Here's a list of useful numbers.
Vente aux Encheres - Sold by a auction house
Zone Innondable - Flood plaine and flood risk area

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