We’ve already 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 it's better to be prepared...
1. Make an Offer
When you have found your ideal 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. Tell the agent whether you are a cash buyer or if you are buying with a French mortgage. 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 legally bound into any contract until the pre-contract has been signed and the cooling off period (10 days) has expired. However, this will secure your dream property until then and the owner is not allowed to accept offers from other parties. You will be required to supply some legal documents (birth/wedding certificates, photocopy of your passport ...), so make sure you have these handy.
Don’t lose out - get in before someone else does. If you find your dream French home, don’t hesitate to make an offer, especially if you know it’s the right place for you, properties do sell.
2. Sign the First Contract or '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
Seven days after signing the first contract you will be required to pay a deposit to the Notaire. This is usually in the region of 10% of the sale price. The deposit will only be refunded if your mortgage offer is refused by the bank and you are unable to proceed with the purchase. You may want to consider opening a French bank account whilst 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 also need to provide a credit card or bank statement which includes address details.
4. Sign the Final Contract
It usually takes between six and twelve 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. Make sure the total balance of the funds has been transferred to the Notaire and ask for confirmation the money has been received and cleared before you leave. Your dedicated currency exchange agent will be able to provide confirmation. You also need to have a valid household and content insurance policy in place. This is a compulsory requirement on completion.
5. Pick up Your Keys!
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.
It is worth keeping in touch with the vendors after completion – you may want to ask them things about the property, the boiler, a local handyman or the area once you’ve moved in.
By working with us, you’ve got the best chance of finding and buying the perfect French property. But don’t just take our word for it; here’s what Mrs Bauer from The Sunday Times said about us:
my-french-house.com is the Best Internet Guide to Buying a House in France I found - and I trawled them all. I recommend them as a first stop for anyone thinking of looking for property for sale in France.