French property buying process overview

As you might imagine, the French property purchase process is a little different to the British one. It’s similar in some ways but different in others. Today we’re going to outline the process so you know what to expect when shopping for a gite.

It isn’t designed to replace professional advice, but instead give you an idea of what you’re in for if you want to buy a gite in France.

Find your gite

The estate agent system is similar to the British one. Agents are paid by the seller to find buyers. Viewing and property details are provided to buyers and tours are given by the agent.

Many agents will have literature in English as well as French. Areas with lots of expats often have agents with good English or expats with decent French.

Make your offer

You make an offer on a property similarly to Britain. You agree a figure with the vendor to secure the property. There is then a 10 day cooling off period where both parties have a chance to change their mind.

Now is a good idea to find a notary or ‘Notaire’ if you don’t already have one. Some sellers will have already chosen one, which is fine as they are independent and work for the government.

Sign the ‘Compromis de Vente’

The ‘Compromis de Vente’ is a contract that seals the deal. A bit like the contract we sign in the UK just before exchanging, here you do it much earlier. Once you sign, you’re committed and a completion date is set.

The seller is obligated to sell you the property from this point. The buyer has another 10 day cooling off period before you’re locked in.

Pay a deposit to the Notaire

A short period after signing, you will be requested to pay around 10% deposit on the property. This amount will be held by the Notaire until completion.

Paperwork and surveys

Now comes the waiting part while all the checks are performed on the property. This will usually take between 2-4 months depending on what’s involved. The main contract, the ‘acte authentique de vente’ will be prepared during this time.

Completion of the gite purchase

Upon visiting the Notaire, you will sign the acte authentique de vente, pay the funds into the Notaire’s account and pay fees. All this will be done on the day although you can pay the funds into escrow ahead of time.

You will sign the final deed, have it witnessed by the Notaire and the money and keys will now change hands.

You are now the legal owner of a French gite!

As you can see, this is a very high level overview of the process. Some of it is similar to the British system while there are some key differences. If you have bought houses in the UK and can find a Notaire with good English, it’s actually a relatively painless process!

That’s probably one of the many reasons so many Brits decide to buy a gite in France!

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