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Simplified Property purchasing process in France


Purchasing a property in France might be intimidating for first timers and especially for those who do not speak the language. Luckily, you are not on your own. Welcome to the place where you will find an exhaustive explanation of every step to follow in this simplified process.

Choosing your “notaire”:

Once your offer is accepted by the seller, you should find a “notaire”, a public officer and legal specialist who acts on behalf of the State and who is appointed by the Minister of Justice to prepare authenticated contracts for the buyer and the seller unless they already chose their own notary. The notaire will collect the taxes and secure your transaction. The amount of money a notary costs, varies in proportion with the age of the property:

  Notary fees (to be paid by the buyer)
Existing property From 7% to 10% of the purchase price.
Recent property

2% in registration taxes and conveyancing fees,

VAT at 20% of the purchase price (unless the sale is between private individuals).

Signing the “Compromis de vente”:

A preliminary contract that consists of a promise to purchase and sell the property. It should be prepared by the notary after the seller transfers the confirmation that the building respects all legal regulations, report on wiring, and other documents like title of ownership. A completion date should be included in this contract. Few conditions should also be added to the contract, like the buyer getting a bank loan, or selling their own house first, it all depends on the case. That is why it is crucial to be accompanied by experts who know best which conditions should apply to protect your interests best.

Deposit Payment and organizing funds:

This step marks the actual beginning of transactions. The buyer here transfers by bank transfer, from 5 to 10% of the price mentioned in the preliminary contract. This amount will be kept in an escrow account till the final transaction. The buyer benefits from a 10-day cooling-off period after getting his copy of the preliminary contract. After the 10 days, if the buyer decides to still decline the deal, the seller is legally authorized, as a form of compensation, to keep the amount deposited in the escrow account.

Are you buying as a company or as an individual? Our specialized lawyers will help you choose and decide between the many payment structures.

If a loan is required for your investment, French banks require up to two months to give you a loan. 10 days after getting their offer, you will have 30 days to confirm. Once you accept it, the loan should be used in the four coming months.

Acte authentique de vente :

There is usually a delay of three months between the final deed, which is drawn up after all the administrative checks are validated by the French Notaire, and the preliminary contract, we previously mentioned. When the final deed is signed, in the presence of all parties, and the Notaire, the rest of the price should be paid through the Notaire’s escrow account. The Notaire will transfer them later to the seller’s account. The seller should pay capital gains tax through the account of the Notaire if it is a second home.

Transfert of Property :

Finally, the buyer owns the property: a chance to explore new rising markets, learn about new sectors, and meet fascinating people. In only a period of 2 to 4 months, the buying process comes to a happy end!

About the Author :

Business lawyers, bilingual, specialized in acquisition law; Benoit Lafourcade is co-founder of Delcade lawyers & solicitors and founder of FRELA; registered as agents in personal and professional real estate transactions. Member of AAMTI (main association of French lawyers and agents).

FRELA : French Real Estate Lawyer Agency, specializing in acquisition law to secure real estate and business transactions in France.

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