France is a vast country so it may be difficult to specify exactly the area in which you are looking to purchase. For advice on what our area has to offer take a look at: Our Area Information Page. To help you define the area, give consideration to transport links, proximity to towns, schools and hospitals.
Once you have defined the general area in which you want to buy, you will need to short list the type of property you are looking for. This can depend on numerous criteria. It is essential that you make a list of these criteria and give the agent helping you find a house the full list. The house search can differ enormously if you are looking for a permanent home or a holiday home and if you are happy to undertake modernisation work.
You may be considering working with us to help you find the ideal house. In order to make our job easier it helps us if you can provide us with as much information as possible. Everyone has a list of requirements when looking for a new house, so please give us your extensive list. Take the time to fill out our: Detailed Search Form. Remember, this will save you unnecessary time in visiting unsuitable houses.
Financing Your Purchase
Once you have started the property search you will have a good idea on what you can buy in your budget. Depending on your circumstances you may require finance to purchase your house. This can be done by releasing equity from another property abroad or by obtaining a mortgage in France or abroad. We can introduce you to some local banks (with English speaking departments) who will give you an idea on how much they will be prepared to lend.
It is normal to make offers in France below the asking price. Allow the agent to deal directly with the vendor when making an offer. If you feel a property has not come up to requirement in certain areas use this as part of your reasoning when tabling an offer. Emphasise if you are a cash purchaser and be flexible to the vendor’s requirements regarding completion dates.
Onceyou have decided on the right property and an offer has been accepted, you should move as quickly as possible to secure the deal. Always remember that most houses for sale have multiple agencies.
Most people purchasing in France do not carry out a pre-purchase survey, however, for people used to buying homes in other countries, it can give peace of mind. We have contact with a local French architect who can give a basic written survey on the condition of the property and its’ workings. It is important to note that a survey cannot be used as a condition of sale/purchase so will need to be carried out before the signing of the first contract.
The procedure involved when purchasing in France is quite straightforward and is designed to protect both the buyer and seller. Below follows an outline of the process involved, however we recommend that you read the Notaires’ official website for the correct guidelines especially concerning the "tricky" French inheritance laws.
Once an agreement has been reached both parties are required to sign a preliminary sale contractcompromis de vente (sousseign privé) This document forms the basis for the final sale agreement. It commits both parties and forms a legally binding contract. The purchaser is required to pay a deposit at this stage of up to 10% of the purchase price. In this contract the purchaser must stipulate whether they are buying with the aid of a mortgage and if there are to be any additional special clauses (conditions suspensives). At this stage of the process the vendor must have carried out a standard inspection of the buildings by an expert. This expert gives a report on the condition of the wood in the structure (whether it has termites). He also mentions if there is any asbestos or lead in the property. In January 2007 French law was amended to include a thermique evaluation of the living accommodation.
Often a purchaser cannot be present for the signing of the " compromis" . In this instance it is possible to have the notaire sign on your behalf. You will need to give the notaire power of attorney (procuration).
Once the " compromis" has been signed by vendor and purchaser a 7 day period of retraction is granted to the purchaser. This is a legal requirement under French law. After the 7 day period has expired the buyer is tied in and can only withdraw from the purchase if either, one of the "conditions suspensives" is not realised, or, they lose their deposit. If during the 7 day period the buyer wishes to withdraw from the purchase he must inform the notaire by registered letter.
At this stage the notaire starts the searches. The notaire will write to the necessary authorities and request if there are any rights of way over the property, or if there is any outstanding loan on the property which must be realised by the vendor. They will also request a local report on urbanisation and flooding. If the property has a substantial amount of land then the land is offered for sale to the land commission. This is obligatory but is normally a formality and any rights to purchase are usually waived. The property is also offered for sale back to the local community. Again this is usually a formality.
Once all the searches have been received back (usually 10-12 weeks) and the conditions suspensives have been met, a date is set for signing the final Acte Authentique. This process takes place in front of the notaire. The final balance for the purchase must be in the notaires hands for completion to take place. The buyer is also requested to have insurance in place for the completion date. Many notaires will require a copy of the insurance certificate or an "attestation" stating that the property is insured. When both vendor and buyer have signed the final "acte" the purchase is complete. All utility accounts must be put in the name of the buyer and final readings given to the utility companies.
For your peace of mind, we consider it part of our service, to ensure clients are adequately insured for the date of the Final Acte and we will obtain competitive quotes locally. In addition we will organise the changeover of utility accounts following completion.