The seven steps of buying a home in France

The seven steps of buying a home in France

Buying a property anywhere can be a daunting task but it can be especially confusing if you are looking to buy in a foreign country.

People buy in France for many reasons. It could be that you are looking for your forever home, a holiday home or an investment property.

Regardless of what type of property you are buying the basics of buying a place in France remain broadly the same.

We’ll assume that you’ve found the property you want to purchase (you can find a guide to property searches here).

Below we’ll break down the process into seven steps.

Step one

The seller and buyer agree a price and on the terms of the contract.

This includes any conditional clauses (clauses suspensives) and any furniture to be included in the sale.

If a condition cannot be fulfilled, the party will generally be free to withdraw from the contract and will not be bound by any obligation or indemnity.

Step two

The preliminary sales contract (compromise de vente) will be drawn up by the notaire.

Notaires are qualified lawyers, much like English solicitors, and also public officers. They are empowered to authenticate deeds with their seal and signature

Once this is signed by both parties in the presence of the notaire the buyer will pay the deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price).

This is paid to the notaire, and followed by a 10-day cooling-off period, during which the buyer can withdraw. The vendor can’t withdraw in this period.

After this seven-day period, the contract is legally binding. Should the buyer pull after this stage they will lose their deposit.

Step three

This is the time to make your mortgage application. If you’ve obtained an agreement in principal before hand all the better.

If not it’s time to get your skates on. If you are a cash buyer you can obviously skip this step.

Step four

If do need to secure a mortgage to buy this will be one of the clauses suspensives (see step one).

This will give you the opportunity to withdraw should your application be turned down.

Once your mortgage offer is confirmed, the notaire will be notified and the contract will become unconditional.

Step five

You won’t need to find a separate conveyancer as the notaire will do all the conveyancing – this will take around 8-10 weeks.

Once the paperwork is finalised the notaire will confirm the date and time of the final signing of the Acte de Vente which is the final contract signed by the buyer and seller when a property is sold in France.

Step six

The buyer transfers the balance of payment to the notaire before the arranged completion date.

Step seven

On completion day all parties meet the notaire and the keys and an Attestation de Vente are exchanged. At this stage ownership is transferred. 

The final Acte de Vente papers (deeds) are then sent out between three to six months later.

And that is that. It’s always best to get advice from a professional but it’s not as complicated as you may think.