Having decided upon the property you wish to buy in certain cases you may be able to negotiate the sale price and you should make a written offer (proposition d’achat) or verbal offer.
When the price is agreed you sign the « compromis de vente » or pre-sales contract. Before signing you would be advised to engage the services of a lawyer specialising in French property transactions, unless you are fluent in French and confident to go ahead without. The lawyer would be expected to review the compromis de vente and any annexed documents and address any issues arising and then also to review the draft of the final contract prior to completion.
To draw up the compromis de vente the agent requires:
Personal details (état civil) – full names, DOB, place of birth, profession,marital status etc
Copy of your passport, birth certificate(s), marriage certificate(s)
Details of the amount you will put down yourself towards the purchase and the amount if any that you need to borrow.
Your choice of notary.
You may choose the same notary as the vendor or we will advise you of a local choice.
If two notaries are engaged this makes no difference to the fees you pay as they are required to share the fee in this case.
You should expect to pay approximately 7% of the sale price in notary’s fees. Notary's fees include all stamp duty and taxes levied upon the purchase. (notary fees may be reduced in the instance of a purchase of new build or off plan)
All of this can be done by phone, fax, email or post if necessary.
Transfer your 10% deposit using the bank details provided (you may negotiate a lower deposit if necessary but 10% is the norm). This will either be sequestered with the agent or with your notary. Pastures Greener always sequesters funds with the notary.
When you have signed the compromis and returned it to the agent it is then the turn of the vendor to sign. Once the vendor has returned all the documents you will then receive a fully signed copy of the compromis de vente by recorded delivery along with a letter advising you that your 7 day cool off period (according to the Loi SRU) will commence the following day. You should confirm receipt of this in writing by email or post as the recorded delivery slip which should return via the postal system rarely comes back from countries outside France. Aletrnatively please try to ensure that this slip is signed and dated and returned.
During this 7 day period you may retract from the sale for any reason and you will receive your 10% deposit back. Retraction must be notified to us in writing and sent by recorded delivery within the 7 day period.
If you are taking a mortgage you have 10 days from the date of signing the compromis to approach banks for a mortgage quote. Some agents may require an «attestation» (certification) from the bank(s) to confirm that you have taken this step. You may also give your agent permission to seek mortgage quotes on your behalf.
In the event that you require a mortgage, a clause called a « suspensive clause » will be written in to the compromis to allow you between 30 and 60 days from signature of the compromis to obtain a mortgage offer and should you fail to do so in the allotted time you are protected, in that you may retract from the sale upon confirmation from the bank(s) that you have been unable to obtain a mortgage.
If your mortgage application is successful a copy of the offer must be forwarded by the bank to the agent and to the notary to confirm this so that the sale may proceed; but if you fail to get your mortgage the bank must justify this in writing to enable your retraction from the sale.
However, this is the only grounds for retraction at this point. If you retract for any other reason (except those covered by the compromis) after the 7 day cool off period you will be liable to forfeit your deposit.
N.B If the vendor pulls out for any reason after signing the compromis you are entitled to receive back your deposit and the vendor is obliged to compensate you a further 10% of the sale price.
Your file is completed and sent to the notary. You should allow approximately 2 months then for the sale to complete. The notary will contact you directly for any further details, for a small deposit to cover the administration of the sale, and will send you a draft of the final contract called the « projet d’acte » for your approval and a breakdown of monies owed.
If you wish to sign a power of attorney (« procuration ») rather than be present at the signature the notary will send you this if asked or it may be signed at the notary's office at a time prior to the completion of the sale.
If conducting the process in the UK or outside France you must sign and have it witnessed by a public notary fluent in French who will then send it to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for ratification (allow at least 14 days). This will incur extra cost.
You must insure the property and its contents in time for the completion date especially if you have a mortgage.
You must open a French bank account in order to pay electricity bills etc. Your agent will ensure that electric and water accounts are transferred to your name on the completion date.
The funds must be in place in the notary’s account before the signature date in order for the transaction to complete. Please allow at least 7 working days for international bank transfer and ensure from the early stages that your bank will be ready to release funds at this point. Please also check that there will be no shortfall in the amount transferred due to bank charges levied when the funds arrive – if there is a shortfall and you cannot make it up then completion cannot take place.
You will either be accompanied by your agent to the signature of the « acte authentique» (final contract) at the notary’s office or the sale will complete in your absence, (perhaps with the representation of your agent if you so wish), in the event that you have given power of attorney to the notary. Remember to bring passports, birth certificates and marriage licence if applicable.