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Buying Property & Houses in France: Purchase Contracts


French Property Purchase Contracts - Compromis de Vente

  • The purchase price will be quoted in Euros.
  • The price normally includes the agency commission but will not include the Notaire's fee and taxes, unless stated. These amount to 7-10% of the purchase price.

When a suitable property has been found and the price agreed, the vendor will be asked to sign a contract called a COMPROMIS DE VENTE (although there are other first contracts). The purchasers will then sign and pay a deposit, normally 10% of the purchase price.

French 7 Day Cooling Off Period

The purchaser has a seven day cooling off period during which, you, the purchaser, can pull out with no loss.

After the 7-day period, the deposit is only refundable should one of the conditional clauses CLAUSES SUSPENSIVES not be satisfied. For example, if you receive a letter from the French bank saying they will not agree to the mortgage you have applied for. This letter is then sent to the Notaire who will refund the deposit. Apart from the conditional clauses the contract commits both parties to complete.

The Role of the Notaire

The Notaire will attend to the various formalities and searches in the same way as a solicitor conducts searches in the UK to confirm that the property is suitable for sale. The Notaire is empowered by the government and is a collector of taxes on their behalf. Usually he acts for both buyer and seller. The purchaser pays his fees.

After a period of 8 to 10 weeks the balance of the purchase price plus the legal expenses are called for by the Notaire so that the transaction can be completed. It is usual for the purchaser and vendor to attend the Notaire's office for the completion and signing of the final ACTE DE VENTE. A power of attorney PROCURATION can be provided allowing either or both parties to be represented by the Notaire's clerk or other named person. The power of attorney may need to be witnessed by a notery public and sent to the Foreign & Commonwealth off ice for an apostille. It must be arranged in advance of the agreed final date.

Notaire's Fees and Taxes

  1. When buying property in France off-plan, the amount charged will be 2.5-4%. When buying a property under five years old from the first purchaser who originally bought off-plan, the purchaser will pay approximately 2.5-4%.
  2. When buying a property over five years old the amount charged is between 7 and 10%. The reason for this is that new properties in France have TVA (VAT) included in their prices and therefore no tax (stamp duty) is payable.
  3. When buying with a mortgage the Notaire will make a further charge to register the lenders interest on the property this will be approximately 1.5% of the mortgage amount.

Other Costs Associated with Purchasing a French House or Property

There are no other purchase costs. You will be responsible for paying the equivalent of annual council tax on the property. These are split into those collected by the local council and those collected by the government: Taxe d'habitation and Impot Foncier. They are collected annually in arrears and are usually lower than for comparable properties in the UK. For new properties you have two years free. Insurance of the property is not your responsibility until completion and you can sometimes take over the vendors policy our agents will organize this for you on the day of completion if required, as well as contents insurance. If you are buying on a domaine or in a block of apartments there is normally a block insurance which you pay together with any service/maintenance charges.

French Bank Account

If you are taking a mortgage on your French property purchase it will be necessary to have a French bank account. If you have no mortgage it may still be necessary to have an account in France to pay your utility bills etc. Your bills will be sent to your permanent address and the money can be taken by direct debit from your French bank account. It is best to open an account once you have found a property so that it is in the right area and again, we and our agents can help and advise.

See our Glossary for more common terms you are likely to come across when Buying Houses in France.

French Purchase Contracts | Buying Property in France | Buying Houses in France

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