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Making an offer

When negotiating an agency property, often offers are made in writing. This process is more involved than you would think.

When agencies negotiate, the best results occur when negotiations are undertaken quickly. In most instances the potential buyer makes a verbal offer to the intermediary or the vendor, often this offer is below the asking price. With more and more frequency these offers are formalised in writing to give them more weight in the hope that the vendor will be more likely to accept. A study by the «Agences Départementales d’Information pour le logement » (Adil), stated that vendors are more likely to consider offers made in writing. 


1 - The offer:

- As the name suggests « an offer » is when a potential buyer offers to pay the price asked for a certain property. It is in some ways similar to the promesse en vente (promise to buy), but can pose legal issues if the sale does not complete.

- In effect, after article 1583 of the civil code, « The sale is completed  (…) as soon as a price for an object is agreed». Consequence : If the vendor accepts an offer in writing the sale, in theory, is concluded, even if the purchaser has not looked into all additional costs connected to the property (cost of renovation work, existence of rights of way, second thoughts about the area, raising a mortgage  etc…).

 - If the purchaser hesitates and does not give a response immediately to the vendor’s acceptance the vendor could theoretically could legally demand for the sale to complete.

- Since the introduction of the law « Solidarité et Renouvellement Urbains »  1st June 2001, the offer to buy cannot be associated to any payment and the potential buyer cannot be sued in this case.


2 - Retracting an offer :

- On the other hand, the purchaser is within his/her rights to retract an offer if the vendor makes a counter proposal. In this case the initial offer becomes null and void and the purchaser has freedom to look for a new property.

- If the offer contained a time clause the purchaser can pull out if the vendor does not accept the offer within the given time frame.

If the vendor does not respond favourably to an offer the purchaser can immediately pull out.


3 - Precautions to take :

  • Take into account legal implications when making offers in writing, it is arguably better to make a verbal offer and wait until all the details of the sale are fixed. In this case the realisation of the sale comes when the pre-contract is signed
  •  If a written offer is not available, do not let the sale fall through, but take the following precautions: 
  • Allow a short period for the offer  (eight to fifteen days) including time for the vendor’s response. (Registered letter)
  • Ensure any mortgage requests are detailed in the pre-contract.
  • Indicate that the sale will only be legally binding on signing the pre-contract and reserve suspended conditions that are going to be mentioned. 
  • Make it clear that the offer can be retracted if the vendor does not accept within the agreed time frame.
All of the descriptive elements are to give an indication and have no contractual value.
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