Learn about the Buying Process in Five Steps
We’ve mentioned the importance of sorting out the finances before your trip so that you are informed and ready to commit. Being mentally prepared to make an offer is just as important. It takes on average three months to purchase a property in France, the timeframe can be (much) longer if finance is required, so ensure that you have applied for an agreement in principle if you need a mortgage.
1 -> Step One, Make your Offer
When you have found your French property it’s important to make an offer to the agent as soon as you can. The agent will then communicate with the vendor on your behalf and hopefully agree on the price before you leave. Making an offer secures the property at the agreed price but no money exchanges hands at this time and nothing needs to be signed.
TOP TIP - don’t lose out! If you find your dream home, do not hesitate to make an offer, especially if you know it’s the right place for you.
You will not be bound into a contract until the pre-contract has been signed and the cooling-off period has expired (10 days). However, this will secure your future property for now and the owner is not allowed to accept offers from other buyers. You will need to supply various legal documents (birth/wedding certificates, copy of passport ...), so make sure you have these handy. For Brits, Americans, Australians and other non-EU based buyers, ensure your passport has at least six months left from your expiry date, and that you have thoroughly researched buying, working, staying and retiring in France.
2 -> Sign the 'Compromis de Vente'
This is a contract signed by both the vendor and purchaser to seal the deal and map out the French property purchase process. A completion date will be set at this stage. From this point the vendor is legally obliged to sell you the property but you still have a further ten days to reflect before you are legally committed to the purchase.
3 ->Step 3, Transfer the Deposit
Shortly after signing the compromis you will be required to transfer the deposit to the Notaire. This is usually in the region of 10% of the sale price. You may want to open a French bank account while you are in the country. You will need valid ID such as a passport or 'carte de séjour' and proof of address in the form of a utility bill dated within the past three months. Non-French residents will need to provide a credit card or bank statement which includes address details.
4 -> Step 4, Sign the Final Contract
It takes between 6 to 12 weeks to complete the necessary paperwork for the purchase. When the day of completion arrives you will be invited to the Notaire's office to sign the 'Acte Authentique' (deeds) which guarantees the legal transfer of the property. Ensure that the balance of the funds has been transferred and ask for confirmation they have been received before you leave, our currency exchange service can assist you with this. You will also need to have obtained home and contents insurance coverage, this is compulsory in France.
5 -> Last Step, the Keys to your House
The paperwork is complete, vendors have left and you've been handed the keys. Champagne! It's time to celebrate your French house.
Useful Buyer's Tip
KEEP IN TOUCH with the vendors – you may have questions about the boiler, the pool or a handyman after the sale.
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