Although each purchase has its own unique circumstances, to help you grasp the basics of what’s involved, we’ve put together a step by step guide of the typical process you’ll go through when making your French property purchase.
- 1. Viewing a property
Take a few trips to France to different regions (if possible go at different times of the year) to get a feel of which one you prefer and if you like it all year around.
- 2. Finding a house you like
Through the internet or estate agents’ ads (Agence Immobilière) you will have access to a wide selection of properties. French agents will normally ask you to sign a “Bon de visite”, which just ensures that the agent receives their fee if you buy the house through them.
- 3. Making an offer
As far as the level of the offer is concerned, the estate agent is best placed to balance factors like how long the property has been on the market for, sensitivity of the seller, other potential buyers, etc. and can therefore offer a valuable guide.
- 4. Offer accepted
The estate agent or notaire drafts a binding contract called “compromis de vente”, and both buyer and seller have to sign it. It guarantees that the seller is not going to accept another offer and that, as a buyer, you are committed (you are allowed a 7 day cool-off period).
A key additional get out clause (“Condition Suspensive”) which needs to be present on the compromis de vente is that, should the condition not be fulfilled, you can withdraw without owing any compensation.
- 5. Deposit
When the compromis de vente is signed you will have to transfer between 5 and 10% of the property price to the estate agent or to a “Notaire” (see below).
- 6. Fund transfer
The 5-10% fund transfer is usually stored in a separate safe account (held by the estate agent or the Notaire). Exchange rates can have a significant impact on the actual sum required which is where Moneycorp can help. As you have signed the compromis de vente, there are a number of different ways you can transfer your funds, and protect yourself from negative fluctuations. Speak to one of our dedicated dealers to find out more.
- 7. Appointment of Notaire
Whether buying privately or through a French estate agent, a Notaire has to be appointed. The Notaire is a public officer appointed by the government. Equivalent to a solicitor representing both parties at the same time, the Notaire has to be involved in the sale to handle the legal processes. The Notaire is usually appointed by the vendor (or recommended by an estate agent) but it is his/her legal obligation to be neutral (and as such make sure you understand what will be signing).
- 8. Legal processes
The Notaire has the responsibility to conduct searches, verify the validity of the various surveys (regarding asbestos, termites, lead, etc…) and inform the buyer of any restriction, constraint or existing debts on the property. He will produce a deed called “acte de vente” which will be the buyer’s title of deed. All of these matters take time, and you will be given a date of when the completion can actually take place, normally two to three months later.
- 9. Completion
In France, the completion is done by signing “l’acte de vente”. This contract is signed by both parties under the watchful eye of the Notaire who will register the transfer of the deed at the land registry (Bureau des Hypotheques). It’s best you keep Moneycorp informed on the time scales on this so we can help you make this larger transfer at the optimum time. The house is now yours.
Note: You will also need to sort out your French tax responsibilities, ensure you have house insurance in place by the completion date and, if you are moving to France, contact a removals specialist.
Moneycorp has a network of trusted partners, and can help you with all of these matters. Feel free to contact us for more information.
Of course, if you are making the move to France it is also advised you take a trip around the local area and visit the town hall to get as much information as possible about your new area.