Once an offer has been accepted, the Notary is appointed. He is usually chosen by the vendor, but the buyer has the right to choose their own, in which case the fees are split between the two notaries. Notaries represent the state for the transfer of property from one owner to another and thus are neutral. The notary draws up a promissory contract which includes suspensive conditions that must be fulfilled before completion. AAer signing the contract, the buyer has 8 days in which to change their mind, aAer which usually a 10% deposit is paid. Searches are then undertaken by the notary, suspensive conditions fulfilled by the parties and completion “acte de vente” is 2-3 months later. Purchase costs are approximately 7% of the sale price, but this can vary from department to department. Estate agent fees are usually 5% + TVA and are payable on completion.


1. Budgets / Borrowing

First if required, contact a mortgage advisor to establish your budget. Borrowing can either be in country of origin or in France through French banks. There are advantages and disadvantages to both, professional advice from a qualified mortgage broker is recommended. He can pre-approved a loan

2. Currency

For larger amounts or regular payments, it is advisable to contract a specialist foreign exchange dealer who offer more competitve rates than the banks. Using a forward contract to buy or sell currency in the future can protect funds against currency movements.

3. Viewing

It is best to make appointments in advance. All agents are licensed in France and must have officially registered sale mandates for every property they are instructed to sell.

4. Offer

Once you have identified a suitable property, make an offer! The estate agent might already indicate that a price is negotiable, but keep in mind that the agent is mandated by the vendor

5. Initial Contract

The Compromis de Vente or Promesse de Vente is the first formal and legally binding stage in the property purchase process in France. Licensed Estate Agents do have the right to prepare these “agreements of sale”, but it is more usual these days to use a notary. Once signed, the Notaire will carry on the process of checking deeds and documentation in respect of the property and land. He will ensure that all suspensive conditions are fulfilled. This process usually takes 2-3 months, but longer periods can be agreed between the parties.

6. Completion

The Acte de Vente or Acte Authentique is the final purchase-sale contract signed by the buyer and seller of a property in France. It must be prepared and witnessed by a notaire who acts as a representative of the state. The Acte de Vente will usually be signed within three to four months from signing the Compromis de Vente for re-sale properties.

Those who will need to be present include the buyer, the seller and the notaire.

For new build properties the timing of the signing will depend on the date of delivery specified in the original construction contract and per-delivery stage payments are standard procedure

 This information is for guidance purposes only and is subject to change. Winkworth recommend that prospective buyers or sellers of foreign property  obtain professional legal advice.

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