Step by Step Guide To Buying Property In France

So you've made the wonderful decision to begin searching for your dream property in France! What's next?

Below we have outlined a guide, to give you a general step-by-step overview of the property buying process.

It is undoubtedly a very attractive idea to relocate to France or to consider purchasing a holiday home for use or rent. 

However, investing in French property could be fraught with some bumps along the way, and quite often many potential buyers are put off by a number of factors including a lack of familiarity with the processes abroad, the language barrier and exposure to international markets.

This considered, it is important to note that investment in property in France is attractive for both homeowners and investors alike, as the French system has a handful of built-in security mechanisms designed to protect both the buyer and the vendor from unfair treatment.

Despite these safeguards however, it is important that any individual who is considering buying a property in France approaches the purchase fully equipped, with all of the facts and information to hand. Whilst the French property market is stable and legally sound, it is quite different from the system in other countries, particularly the UK.

The most important issue to bear in mind is that the sale becomes binding much earlier in the process than in the UK. Therefore if you allow enough time during your viewing trip you can effectively secure a property you have seen on your trip and return to your home country knowing that no-one else can buy it.


Make an Offer

When you have found your ideal property it’s important to make an offer to the agent as soon as you can. The agent can then communicate with the vendor on your behalf and hopefully agree the price before you leave. Making an offer secures the property at the agreed price but no money exchanges hands at this time and nothing needs to be signed.

You will not be bound into a contract until the pre-contract has been signed and the cooling off period has expired (10 days). However, this will secure your future property for now and the owner is not allowed to accept offers from other buyers. You will need to supply various legal documents (birth/wedding certificates, copy of passport ...), so make sure you have these handy.

Helpful Tip - don’t lose out, get in before someone else does. If you find your dream French home, don’t hesitate to make an offer, especially if you know it’s the right place for you, properties do sell.

Signing the 'Compromis de Vente'

This is a contract signed by both the vendor and purchaser to seal the deal and map out the French property purchase process. A completion date will be set at this stage. From this point the vendor is legally obliged to sell you the property but you still have a further ten days to reflect before you are legally committed to the purchase.


Paying the Deposit

Shortly after signing the compromis you will be required to pay a deposit to the Notaire. This is usually in the region of 10% of the sale price. You may want to open a French bank account while you are in the country. You will need valid ID such as a passport or 'Carte de Séjour' and proof of address in the form of a utility bill dated within the past three months. Non French residents will  need to provide a credit card or bank statement which includes address details.

The Final Signing ('Acte Authentique')

It usually takes between 6 and 12 weeks to complete all the necessary paperwork for a property purchase. When the day of completion arrives you will be invited to the Notaire's office to sign the 'Acte Authentique' (deed of sale) which guarantees the legal transfer of the property. Make sure the total balance of the funds has been transferred to the Notaire and ask for confirmation the money has been received before you leave. Your currency exchange agent will be able to provide confirmation. You also need to have a valid household and content insurance cover in place. This is a compulsory requirement on completion.

The Keys to Your French Property!

Once the paperwork has been completed and the vendors have vacated the property, you will receive the keys.

Celebrate with a glass of champagne and enjoy life in France!