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Buying a house in France

1 - Procedures:


First stage:

   When the vendor and purchaser have reached agreement on a sale a compromis de vente (sale agreement) must be organised either through a notaire or an estate agency. Abafim does not assume legal representation for its clients; Therefore Abafim is not in a position to facilitate the compromis de vente, the agent must arrange this through a notaire.

This document includes all aspects of the transaction and includes any additional clauses.

The document that is signed at this stage is called the Sous Seing Privé and is mutually irrevocable.

   At this time the purchaser must deposit a percentage of the total payment as a guarantee to the notaire (in most cases 9%). At that point the vendor is obliged to sell, however the purchaser then has seven days to reflect on the decision to buy and during this period can withdraw the offer without reason and without incurring any financial penalty.

In addition, if the purchaser requests a mortgage, which is refused, the purchaser can pull out of the transaction without penalty. (This should be mentioned in stage one).


Second Stage:

   After two-three months, when all the documents and paperwork for the sale have been completed and all pre-emption’s cleared, the two parties must meet again with the Notaire for l’acte de Vente (completion of sale) and sign l’acte Définitif  (final act) (A copy will be made available to the purchaser).
   At this stage the purchaser must transfer the rest of the balance for the total amount for the house sale to the notaire's account.


All the necessary documents are included with the l’acte définitif. Both parties must be present for the igning unless a procuration for a representative has been previously signed.

   Searches – All necessary local searches must be successfully completed and returned to the notaire before the final signing. Local authorities and in particular the national land commission (SAFER) are at liberty to demand pre-emption of the property. (In this case the Notaire will return all the deposit to the purchaser).


Agency Fees:

   All the prices advertised at the agency Abafim include agency fees that will be paid either by the vendor or purchaser.


Notaire's Fees:

   On completion the Notaire will collect a government tax that is calculated on a scale according to the value of the property. The Notaire will add his fees so that combined with the government taxes the total fees equal roughly 7% of the price of the building, not including contents.

A mortgage will add around another 1% to the overall fees.


Local Taxes:

There are two types of taxes applied to all French properties.

- Taxe d’habitation: This is paid every year by the owner (or tenant) resident in the property on 1 January.

- Taxe Foncière: This concerns buildings and is shared by the vendor and purchaser dependant on the date of completion. It is usually paid in autumn.


3 - Notes:

    The agency Abafim will look after the transfer of water, electricity and telephone (ADSL) contracts. (A new number will be given every time there is a change in telephone contracts).

    House Insurance is the responsibility of the buyer and the house must be insured on the day the final act (l’acte final) is signed.



All money transfers should be conducted through Swift Euro Transfers.

   Money should be transferred around one week before completion to ensure that the funds are in the notaire's account by the day of completion.

   If the buyer has requested a mortgage and it's refused he/she can withdraw from the transaction without any financial penalties.

The price of properties are calculated TTC (all fees included).


With the Mandate the vendor must provide :

    - An energy efficiency test for all enclosed and covered buildings. (Valid for 10 years)

    - A record according to the Loi Carrez for all the properties in joint ownership (not of limit of validity)


Before signing the Sous Seing, the vendor must provide:

  • An asbestos check for all constructions where building permission was given before 1 July 1997 (unlimited validity unless additional work was carried out after the check).
  • A report on the risk of exposure to lead (CREP) for all habitable properties built before 1 January 1949 (valid for one year)


At the final signing:

  • A statement about the presence of termites in zones designated by the prefecture to be at risk. (Not obligatory in 65 apart from Vic en Bigorre, but strongly recommended, valid for 3 months).

Contrary to practice in Spain, the purchaser is not responsible for the debts of the previous owner.

   The buyer can choose his/her own notaire. It is therefore possible that 2 Notaires are used. (This is not normal practice).

These procedures must be honoured: it is impossible to complete them after the act has been signed.

All of the descriptive elements are to give an indication and have no contractual value.
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