The process of buying a property in France

Buying a property in your home country can be complicated enough, but when it comes to buying a home in France—whether that’s to live in as an expat, or to enjoy as a holiday home—the process can be even more baffling.

Finding a property in France is simple enough—check out some of our recent properties of the month for inspiration. But if you’d like to know more about the process of buying a property in France, the points below will guide you in the right direction.

Getting started

Once you’ve found a property and agreed a price, you’ll need to instruct a ‘Notaire’ or ‘Notary’. The Notary is responsible for receiving contracts, assuring their dates, holding them in trust and delivering authentic copies. The Notary will ensure the law is followed correctly and will undertake relevant searches for the property transaction. Both buyer and seller may use the same Notary, as they are impartial.

Confirming your offer

The next stop to buying a home in France may be to confirm your offer in writing, which is known as an ‘offre d’achat’. This is essentially an offer letter, detailing the offer price, which is then countersigned by the seller. This grants the buyer a period of exclusivity.

The next step

Once all of this is settled, the Notary will prepare a ‘Compromis de Vente’ or ‘purchase contract’. This clarifies the completion date, and during the period leading up to this, the Notary will conduct the relevant searches. This contract is usually accompanied by a small deposit; these funds are entrusted to the Notary. Once this is signed, the buyer has a weeklong ‘cooling off period’ which gives the buyer the freedom to withdraw without penalty.

Completion

When the sale is complete, the payment balance, agency fees, transfer taxes and Notaire’s fees are due. Notaire’s fees can often be quite significant, so do your research carefully beforehand so you don’t have any surprises. Altogether, fees when buying a home in France can often be around 6% of the purchase price.

Once the fees are paid and the funds are settled, the ‘Act de Vente’ or ‘completion’ is signed by the Notary, registering the new owner and mortgage on the property’s deeds.

Mortgages for French property: where to start?

When it comes to mortgages for French property—especially high value mortgages—there are also some key differences. If you’d like to know more about finding a mortgage in France, check out our article on the key differences between mortgages in France and the UK.

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