How to Buy Property in France

Without an Estate Agent

When you buy property in France, the process is reasonably straightforward. Once a price has been agreed, both buyers and sellers sign the compromis de vente, sometimes called the promesse de vente. After signing, the buyer pays a 10% deposit and about 3 months later the notaire contacts all parties to arrange a date for completion.

Not too complicated and yet many people from abroad who are buying French property restrict themselves to buying through an estate agent and paying agency fees of between 7% - 12% of the property price.

Do you know that over 50% of people who buy property in France negotiate directly with the owner, or buy through a notaire?

Non-French speaking buyers find it more difficult to purchase in this way mainly because of the language barrier and not understanding the process.

The Topnotch Property Assistance Service

To help you overcome these barriers, and whether you buy property in France direct from the owner, from a notaire, or even through an estate agent, I will act on your behalf throughout the French property buying process, from 'compromis to completion'.

Contact me

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The property assistance service includes:

- Discussion of your situation, how you intend to finance your purchase, details of the property you are buying

- Specific clauses that you want in the contract - why this matters and the importance of being aware of all the relevant issues - click here

- Verbal translation and explanation of the compromis and the acte de vente

- Liaison with the notaire and other parties to confirm progress of the sale up to completion

- Available to answer your questions about all aspects of your purchase

- General help and advice about owning a property in France - utilities, taxes, etc.

Service available throughout France via email, post, telephone and Skype

Based on the sale price of the property

330€ - up to 50,000€
440€ - 50,001€ to 200,000€
550€ - 200,001€ to 550,000€
0.10% - above 550,001€

If you want to save money and you are considering buying your French property without an agent, the following may also be of interest to you:

Property for Sale in France By Owner

Buying French Property Privately

The 'compromis' or initial sales contract

Some of the issues that you may need to consider when you are ready to buy property in France and preparing to sign the compromis:

- Financing
- Building permissions
- Completion of ongoing works
- Rights of way
- Boundary limits
- Communal land
- Rights to well water
- Fixtures and fittings
- Inheritance rules

This is not an exhaustive list. There may be other considerations depending on your personal circumstances and the particular property you are buying. You have to specify what is to be included in the contract either as specific conditional clauses or items to be clarified.

It is up to you as the buyer to ensure that the initial sales contract contains any clauses that are important to you and that you understand what you are signing.

The document is binding on all parties. You can be confident that the owners have committed themselves to selling to you as soon as they sign. The buyer benefits from a 7 day cooling-off period before paying the 10% deposit. After this period, you cannot withdraw from the contract unless you forfeit the deposit, except in the case of specific conditional clauses that must be mentioned in the contract.

In addition, if you decide not to proceed with the purchase for any reason that is not mentioned in the sales contract, the owners can take you to court and force the sale to go ahead. Fortunately this does not happen very often, most owners preferring just to find another buyer, but it is important to be aware of the possibility.

The compromis is therefore as important as the final sales contract.

Of course, when you buy property in France, all the documentation is in French. If you are buying through an agent, they may supply an English translation, but this is not necessarily a legal document in the same way that the original French version is. If you are signing in front of a notaire, they should arrange for a translator to be present (normally paid for by you) or an English speaking person from the estate agency will accompany you.

The acte de vente, signed on completion, confirms what has been written in the initial contract and that any conditional clauses have been verified. The notaire will also have done the searches on the property and will provide the supporting documentation. It is signed at the notaire's office or you can arrange a power of attorney for the notaire to sign on your behalf. As with the compromis, the onus is on you to understand what you are signing.

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