French Property Buying Advice: The Day of the Compromis de Vente

Signing the compromis de vente

Purchasing property in France is relatively straightforward, particularly if you have a buyers agent on your side. The compromis de vente is the preliminary sales agreement, a mutual agreement between the vendor and the buyer. With this contract, the vendor is making a commitment to sell and the buyer is making a commitment to buy.

Steps to Take Before the Meeting

From beginning to end, compromis meetings take approximately one to two hours. To make it go as easily as possible, certain steps can be taken beforehand:

1. Ask for a draft of the compromise from your notaire

2. Have documents translated to your native language or ask to have a translator present at the signature.

3. Add any conditional clauses that aren’t yet included.

4. Speak with a tax advisor, who will help you structure the purchase of the property in the most efficient way possible for your taxes.

5. Make sure the final document is satisfactory – speak to your French property finder and notaire to ensure all points are covered.

6. Arrange for the deposit to be transferred into the notaire’s escrow account.

7. The meeting will usually be in French, although your HH consultant will speak fluent English and French of course. If you would like an English speaking notaire, it is possible.

8. If you don’t live in France, you don’t have to be present for the meeting. Buyers can authorize a proxy to sign the compromis. There must be a notarized document to authorize the proxy and this document has to be sent to the notaire ahead of time.

6 Parts of the Signing Process

Note that while these steps are performed in every meeting, the sequence may change.

1. The signing will take place in the notaire’s office. The notaire is required in order to verify, transfer, register and insure the title of French property. You can choose your own notaire or you can use the same notaire that the vendor is using, the cost remains the same whether there are one or two notaires involved in the purchase.

2. Additional people will also be at the notaire’s office, including family members of the vendor who have part ownership in the property (and who are over 18 years of age), the immobilier and the French property finder. The notaire will introduce everyone to each other, stating their relationship, birth date and address. This information will also be included in the compromis.

3. The notaire will define, in detail, the property that is being sold. He will go through the eight mandatory survey reports that are part of all French property sales. Conditional clauses will be explained. Facts that will be stated could include that the buyer is going to have a French mortgage of that a full survey of the structure will be performed. These clauses are mentioned so that if anything changes, the buyer can withdraw from the deal without being penalized.

4. The notaire will confirm that they’ve received the deposit (or give you the deadline date and account details for the money to be sent to). The deposit is typically 10% of the purchase price, but it will be clarified in the compromis.

5. All parties involved in the sale will initial each page of the compromis and sign where necessary.

6. After signing the compromis, there are seven days to reconsider, known as the cooling-off period. The notaire will advise you of the conditions and you’ll also receive a registered letter from the notaire with the deadline to make any changes.

The compromis meeting is straightforward, but it’s also specific. When you work with a French property finder, you’ll be guided through each step of the process, from first contact until the sale is final.

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