The Sale process in france
Whatever the type of property you are buying, whether it is some land, a ruined farm house, a house or a chateau, the process necessary leading up to the completion of a sale has a number of different stages. Our agency, Midi Pyrénées Propriétés/Occitanie Propriétés, will guide you as buyer or seller throughout the sale process until the keys are handed over.
Stage 1 : Looking for a property
We begin by corresponding with you by email or by phone to properly understand your needs and the type of property you are looking for, we establish the important criteria, put together a short list of options and then arrange a series of visits at your convenience. We will share with you all the important information concerning each property that we are aware of, this often includes information on utility installation conformity, access to and rights of way over the property, our aim is to make sure you are fully informed when making choices .
Stage 2 : Making an offer & choosing a notaire
When you have found your dream property and your offer has been accepted, we will advise you of all the documents that are needed for the pre-contract. The seller and the buyer are both free to appoint their own notaire, who then share the fees from the sale. The notaire costs associated with the sale are fixed by the state and are all covered by the buyer . The price does not change and is the same at all notaire offices. The choice of notaire is totally up to you, however, if you do not have a notaire we can help you choose one.
Stage 3 : The pre-contract
The pre-contract is often called the ‘Compromis de Vente’. The notaire will invite both the seller and the buyer to an appointment to sign the pre-contract. This will take place at the notaire’s office if it is possible for both parties to attend, otherwise, authorisation to sign can be arranged by post or by email, this is called a ‘procuration’.
Important information will be discussed at the notaire meeting to make sure both the buyer and the seller are fully informed.
· The buyer must disclose how the purchase is to be financed, personal funds (cash or sale of a property), by taking out a bank loan or a mixture of both. If there is a loan then the amount being borrowed, loan term and interest rate must be specified.
· A deposit payment, although not obligatory, is usually paid by the buyer at this point. The amount paid is not a legal stipulation, it varies between 5 and 10% and should be sent by bank transfer to the notaire bank account where it is kept until the sale completes. The deposit is deducted from the sale price on completion or, if the sale falls through, it can be used to compensate the vendor but only if all the conditional clauses in the contract have been met. If the buyer pulls out during the legal cooling off period or if a documented legal condition is not met (such as a loan is not approved), the deposit payment is returned to the buyer.
· If the seller has not already had all the diagnostic reports completed it is necessary for these to be done urgently to inform the buyer, the pre-contract signing cannot take place without these reports, which must be provided to the notaire a least several days before the appointment.
Stage 4 : The buyer’s 10 day cooling off period
In France there is always a 10-day cooling off period for the buyer. This begins the day after the buyer receives a recorded delivery record of the compromise de vente (pre-contract). This can be delivered by the postal service or by a specialist email recorded delivery service and includes a copy of the signed pre-contract as well as the diagnostic reports, the buyer must sign to acknowledge receipt of these documents. From this point the buyer has 10 days to pull out of the sale, stating the reason why. If a deposit has been paid then the notaire should refund the it to the buyer with 21days.
The seller does not have the same option to pull out during a cooling off period.
Stage 5 : Finance through a loan
If the buyer requires a loan in order to make a purchase, it is essential that the loan characteristics match exactly or are more favourable than that which is detailed in the pre-contract (amount, term and interest rate). There will be a time limit set to complete the loan process, this will also be detailed in the pre-contract. If the buyer has no need for a loan to make the purchase, the notaire will ask the buyer to hand write a paragraph into the pre-contact to confirm this.
Stage 6 : the interim period
At the same time as the buyer is going through the loan finance process, the notaire is undertaking a certain number of information requests in order to guarantee the security of the transaction and to protect the buyer: checking that the seller is in fact the owner of the property and that no one else has a right to it, checking the planning permissions attached to the property, that there is no outstanding mortgage on the property that won’t be paid off at the point of sale, etc.
Any right of pre-emption by local farmers or by the village or parish will be publicised for the legal duration to allow due process in certain types of sales. If there is land with the property this will take 2 months to be considered by the reviewing body ‘the SAFER’. Once this time limit is over no pre-emption is possible and the notaire will be able to proceed to completion.
Stage 7 : signing of the contract
After all the conditional clauses have been met and the checks have been completed, the notaire will arrange an appointment for all parties to meet and sign the contract or ‘Acte de Vente’. The day before or just prior to signature all the parties will meet at the property to do a full inventory check and make sure the property is in the same condition as when the purchase agreement was made. The meters will be read at this point and the buyer will be able to ask practical questions such as how the heating works etc. We will of course be there during this important hand over of information.
What happens at the signing ? On the appointed date, the buyer and the seller go to the notaire’s office. Also present at the signing will be both notaires (if the seller notaire is different from the buyer notaire), we will be there too.
If one of the parties attend in person then the notaire can represent them using legal representation through a ‘procuration’.
Before the signing takes place the notaire will already have checked that the funds for the purchase have been received into the notaire bank account.
Stage 8 : transaction payment to the seller
The seller will receive the funds from the sale after all the final conditions have been satisfied such as the repayment of any outstanding mortgage arrangement.
Stage 9 : taking possession of the property
The keys to the property will be provided to the buyer at the notaire’s office after the signing has taken place and the buyer is then able to take possession of the property immediately.