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Buying and Selling in France

The Pre-Contract : Compromis ou Promesse de Vente

Once you have agreed to buy a property for an agreed amount from the seller, you will need to sign a "Avant-Contrat" (Pre-contract), which is a legal document committing both buyer and seller to specific liabilities in the event of various eventualities, covered by French law. In all cases the buyer will be required to pay a deposit which is an agreed sum of between 5 and 10 percent of the purchase price.

The "pre-contrat" defines the following key pieces of information :

The buyer will be required to provide proof of identity (passport) and a marriage certificate if buying jointly with your spouse. The buyer will also be required to provide an advance of funds to the Notaire for certain expenses such as searches and taxes.

The Sale Contract (Contrat de Vente)

When the Notaire has completed his work and received the necessary documents he will fix a date for the signature of the Contrat de Vente to finalise the transaction. The final contact is then read for approval and if necessary amended and signed by the parties.

The buyer must provide a bankers draft to the Notaire for the outstanding amount of the purchase price prior to signiture.

Registering the Sale

Within 6 months following the sale the Notaire will apply to the Land Registry for the a copy of the Register for the new owner.

Costs to be Borne by the Buyer

The costs to the buyer are, in the greater part, made up of State and local taxes, and other third party fees (eg. surveys, searches). The Notaire's fees only account for around one percent. Total buyer's costs usually vary between seven and ten percent of the purchase price. Please note that the Notaire may, in certain circumstances, charge a commission on the sale but most of the time this will be borne by the seller and already included in the purchase price.

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