You’ve done the research, come over on buying trips and finally you’ve found the house of your dreams! Where do you go from there?
Making an Offer
The next stage is making a formal offer. Your agent will ask you some questions regarding your finances, in order to present the vendor with as much information as possible. Is the offer comptant, i.e you don’t need to get a mortgage or sell a property in order to buy? Are there any conditions with the offer, called clauses suspensives, for example, that the diagnostic report doesn’t uncover any serious problems, or that the offer is dependent on planning permission for a pool.
If your offer is accepted, you and the seller will sign an Offre d’Achat. This document is legally binding on the seller. They agree to sell to you at this price and they can’t accept a subsequent higher offer within a stated timeframe, usually time enough to sign the next document in the process: a Compromis de Vente or Promesse de Vente.
Compromis (or Promesse) de Vente
Next, the notaire will draft a Compromis (or Promesse) de Vente – a contract of sale agreement which binds the seller and the buyer. As notaires in France work for the state it is normal for one notaire to manage a sale acting for both the buyer and seller on an impartial basis.
The Compromis is the most important contract. It defines all the terms of the sale, including the price, the deposit, any conditions of the contract (clauses suspensives) such as obtaining a mortgage or the sale of an existing property, and a timeline for completion.
After the Compromis is signed, the seller is legally bound to complete the sale or pay a 10% penalty to the buyer. The buyer has a 10 day cooling-off period during which they transfer the deposit to the notaire (between 5 and 10% of the purchase price), or inform the notaire that they will not be proceeding.
Between Compromis and Acte de Vente
After the 10 day cooling off-period, the buyer and the seller are legally bound to complete the sale, unless one of the conditions are not met, e.g. the buyer’s house sale falls through or they are refused a mortgage.
The notaire then carries out the property searches and gathers documents in order to sign the Acte de Vente. This takes around 2-3 months.
The notaire will then fix a date to sign the Acte de Vente.
Acte de Vente
This document confirms everything that was in the Compromis and any other details that the seller agreed to carry out, like the chimney has been swept, the boiler serviced, etc.
The buyer needs to ensure all funds are transferred to the notaire a few days before the signing date, and also have property insurance in place.
Walk through the property before the signing to check all is as it should be, read the meters and after the signing, you’ll have the keys to your new home!
Obviously, there are other details to finalise, but you will be in constant contact with your agent to guide you seamlessly through the process!