HOW THE PURCHASE PROCESS WORKS
You are considering your property purchase, and you’ve identified property online. The first and one of the most important things you need to consider, if you’ve found the property with an estate agent, check it’s not listed privately without the estate agent fees as this could save you many thousands of euros.
When you arrange a visit with an estate agent, they may ask you to sign a ‘Bonne Visite’ which then should you find the property listed privately, many thousands less than with the estate agent you are legally not able to now purchase the property privately, but now only with the estate agent paying their fees, so it’s very important to check the websites to ensure the property isn’t listed with us privately.
The purchase process
Three months is about an average length of time to complete the purchase process. It can vary depending on the number of people involved in the sale as it can often include extended family in France.
The compromis de vente is a legal contract, make sure if you do not understand it you have it translated so you do.
The compromis de vente will include
- Details and identities of the vendor and buyer
- Full description and address of the property
- Surface area of the property and land
- Purchase price, the breakdown of fees and who is to pay each fee
- Details of the Notaire/Solicitor
- Details of any fixtures and fittings included in the sale
- Diagnostic tests, provided by the seller
- Details of financing if necessary
- Any let out clauses (conditions/clauses suspensives) and the penalties that will be incurred by the buyer or seller if completion doesn’t take place. The let out clauses for the buyer provide a way out of the contract while protecting the deposit. However be aware that the vendor must agree to the clause suspensives.
Examples of let out clauses are:
- Subject to the buyer obtaining mortgage finance
- Subject to permission for a specific use of the building is granted
- Subject to the vendor carrying out necessary repairs.
Other clauses can be added, but expert legal advice is needed to ensure the correct wording.
This is normally about 10% of the value of the property and is paid direct to the Notaire to hold. It is normally required around the time of the Compromise de vente.
Once the sellers and purchasers have signed the Compromis de vente and received copy, there is a ten day cooling off period in which the buyer may change their mind. This is the right time to get a structural survey or inspection made and expert advice if required.
If there is a clause suspensive in the compromis stating that the agreement to buy is subject to mortgage finance, the buyer should be careful to do exactly what is asked of them in the sale agreement. For example, some contracts state that a buyer must start the mortgage application process within a certain time limit and that they have a final date at which they must produce evidence of the bank’s acceptance or refusal of the mortgage.
A buyer may be asked to prove that they have made reasonable efforts to obtain mortgage finance in time, or they will lose the deposit.
A few weeks before completion day
Once the preliminary work as been completed by the Notaire, a date will be agreed for signing that suit both parties and a draft sent of the Acte de vente (projet de l’acte), the final Deed of Sale.
This contains much of the same information as in the original Compromis de vente, but it should be carefully checked. It also states the date when the buyer may move into the property.
If a buyer is unable to attend the meeting to sign the Acte de vente, they may give a trusted person their power of attorney (mandat) which authorises them to act on the buyer’s behalf.
Funds must be transferred to the Notaire’s bank account before the signing can take place. It is the buyer’s responsibility to instruct the Notaire to request the mortgage funds from the lender.
The Acte de vente is signed by the buyer, the vendor and one Notaire. If the buyer and vendor have different Notaires, only one needs to witness the Acte de vente.
Once the Acte de vente has been signed and witnessed, the Notaire pays all the taxes, settles all the accounts of the purchase/sale and registers the deeds and mortgage.
The buyer will receive a certificate informing them that the title has been registered a few months after.
The original title deed is kept by the Notary, although they may make and issue authorised copies.
The following documents will be required in original form, not photo copies
- Marriage/Divorce papers
- Birth certificate
Other legal services.
At the purchase stage and the start of a new venture it may be a good time to revise inheritance requirements as these differ from the UK.
Please note this information is a guide, regulations may change therefore we recommend you always seek the correct legal advice were necessary.