Once an offer on a property has been accepted, your details (buyer's full name, address, contact numbers, occupation, marital status, date and place of birth) will need to be passed to the estate agent or notaire to prepare the reservation contract referred to as a "Compromis de Vente" or for a new-build "Contrat de Reservation". At this stage you will also need to provide details of any mortgage or other loan needed to purchase the property with the names of the mortgage lender & the amount required. You should begin the mortgage application process now and ensure it is completed as quickly as possible; you should always try and get an agreement/offer in principle immediately.
Ensure that you are made aware of all the costs and taxes associated with your new property.
The Reservation Contract is the preliminary sales agreement and is drafted by the estate agent or notaire. It identifies the buyer, the seller, the property, the price and any suspensive conditions agreed by both parties, enabling you to get out if they are not concluded successfully, for example the granting of a mortgage or planning permission.
The property will not be taken off the market until it has been signed by both parties and the deposit received.
This document will contain the agreed signing date to complete the purchase and you should note this date and ensure all parties are made aware of it including your mortgage lender. It is usually 3 months unless a quick sale has been agreed.
When the reservation contract has been signed by both parties, your copy will be sent to you by registered post. From the date that your copy arrives you have 10 days 'cooling off' period when you are still allowed to withdraw from the sale with no penalties payable, after this time the contract becomes binding subject to any suspensive conditions.
At this stage you will pay a deposit of 5%-10%. You will be provided with details of how to make this payment. If you need to transfer the funds from an account outside France you would be well advised to use a reputable currency exchange company as you will get a better rate of exchange than using a High street bank. If you are buying a new build the timing of stage payments as the construction progresses will be clearly stated. If any conditions specified in the Reservation Contract have not been met for reasons beyond the buyer's control this deposit will be refunded. If the seller withdraws he will have to pay you a penalty.
Once all parties have signed the Reservation Contract it is legally binding. The notaire must then collect various documents such as property titles and mortgage documents to verify that the paperwork is in order; this usually takes 2-3 months.
The notaire will have now prepared the deed for sale or "Acte de Vente" by ensuring all the necessary paperwork is completed. The Notaire acts on behalf of the state rather than the buyer or seller, although he is nominated by the vendor he acts without discrimination for both parties.
The balance of the purchase price (or the appropriate stage payments for a new build) as well as legal costs will become due at the time that the "Acte de Vente" is signed. By this time the funds will need to have been transferred to reach the notaire, life insurance and building insurance should also have been arranged.
On the signing of the "Acte de Vente" you legally take ownership of the property.
If you have any queries or concerns regarding the buying process in France please do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to answer your questions.