The French Property Buying Process in Five Steps

5 Steps to Buying your French House

We’ve mentioned the importance of sorting out the finances before your trip so that you’re ready to commit. Being mentally prepared to make an offer is just as important. It takes in average 3 months to purchase a property in France, this can be longer if finance is required, so make sure you have an agreement in principle if you need such a mortgage.


1 -> Make an 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 can then communicate with the vendor on your behalf and hopefully agree 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.

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. Ensure your passport has at least 6 months left from your expiry date

TOP TIP - don’t lose out, get in before someone else does. If you find your dream French home, do not hesitate to make an offer, especially if you know it’s the right place for you.


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 -> Pay the Deposit

Shortly after signing the compromis you will be required to pay a 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 -> Sign the Final Contract

It takes between 6 to 12 weeks to complete all the necessary paperwork for a property purchase. When the day of completion arrives you will be invited to the Notaire's office to sign the 'Acte Authentique' (deed of sale) which guarantees the legal transfer of the property. Ensure that the balance of the funds has been transferred to the Notaire and ask for confirmation the money has been received before you leave. Your currency exchange agent should be able to provide this. You also need to have a valid house and content insurance cover in place. This is a compulsory.


5 -> The Keys to Your French Dream

The paperwork is complete, the vendors have vacated the property and you will be handed the keys. Now – relax and enjoy your new life in your own French House.

The House Buying Process

Really Useful Tip

It is worth keeping in touch with the vendors after completion – you may want to ask them things about the property, the boiler, the robot in the pool, a handyman or nice resturant in the area once you’ve moved in.




See our NEW buying guide PDF for more details.


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The Key To Your French Dream

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My-French-House is the best online Guide to Buying a House & Real Estate in France I found - and I trawled them all. I recommend them as a first stop for anyone looking for a new home or property in France.