Are you feeling a bit nervous when thinking about buying property in the French Alps? That’s quite normal. It can be tricky knowing exactly what you are supposed to do and in what order. The purchasing process can seem complicated and a little bit daunting. This is why we have tried to explain it in the simplest way possible to ease your mind.
What are the steps to buying property in France?
Finding the right property
Finding a property that is right for you can be challenging. We are not estate agents but we work with the best in the region to help buyers find the home of their dreams. Contact us for more information. Also check out our guide on property prices in Courchevel 1850, Moriond (1650), Village (1550), Le Praz and La Tania.
The Buyer’s offer is accepted
The first step in the buying process is of course that the seller accepts the buyer’s offer, be it in person, over the phone or by email. Usually the agency gets in touch to inform the buyer.
You need to choose a Notary
To buy property in France you need a "notaire" to process the sale. The Notaire is a publicly appointed legal advisor who acts on behalf of the State - appointed by the Minister of Justice - in order to draw up contracts between the buyer and the seller. This guarantees the legality and authenticity of the sale.
In most cases one Notary acts on behalf of both the purchaser and the seller. However, should the purchaser wish to use another Notary that is also possible. In this case, both Notaries would share the total fee between them.
The Compromis de Vente
The Compromis de Vente is a preliminary contract signed as a promise to sell and to purchase the property.
The Notary draws this document up once they have received all the necessary paperwork from the seller:
Title of ownership
Confirmation that the building conforms to all legal regulations
Report on asbestos, electrical wiring, natural risks, etc.
The Compromis de Vente lays out all the conditions of the sale and defines a completion date. It also allows time for the Notary to prepare the final documents of the sale and gather all relevant information pertaining to the sale.
In general, the preliminary contract is prepared and signed within 7 days of the offer bein accepted.
The buyer arranges the Deposit
Now that both parties have agreed on the price and that the preliminary contract has been signed, it’s time for the first financial transaction. The buyer needs to now transfer a deposit of 5 to 10% of the agreed property price to the Notary. The deposit will be held in an escrow account until the final transaction.
If you need a bit more information about getting a mortgage, follow this link:
The Cooling off Period
Under french law, after the Compromis de Vente has been signed, the Buyer benefits from a mandatory 10 day cooling off period, during which the Buyer can withdraw their offer. Should they decide to indeed withdraw from the sale, they must be refunded 100% of the deposit they transferred into the escrow account. At this point, the buying process is terminated.
The Buyer can change their mind for any reason. They do not have to justify their withdrawal from the purchasing process in order to receive a full refund during this 10 day cooling off period. However, if the Buyer decides they do not want to go through with the sale after the 10 days cooling off period, the Seller has the right to keep the deposit.
The Acte de Vente is drawn up
Once the above steps are completed, the Notary can draw up the final deed, called the “Acte Authentique de Vente” in France. It is the final document in the buying process and it usually takes around 3 months from the signing of the Compromis de Vente to get to the Act de Vente.
Signing the Final Contract
The signing of the final contract usually takes place between 8 and 12 weeks after the initial contract has been signed. This time period can be longer or shorter, particularly depending on whether you are purchasing with cash or a mortgage. If purchasing with cash, the process can take a lot less time.
The signing of the Acte de Vente takes place at the Notary’s office where the Buyer, Seller and Notaire must be present. Should you not be able to attend, a power of attorney can be granted, allowing the notary to sign on your behalf.
All funds, including fees, need to be on the notary’s account ahead of the final signing.
Final payment on the property
On that day, the balance of the property price (90 to 95%) depending on the deposit paid) must be paid into the Notaire’s escrow account, including any funds paid by a mortgage company. These funds are then transferred into the Seller’s account a week later. Before taking ownership of the property on that day, you must also ensure that you have insurance on the property.
Collect the keys & Move in!
Congratulations! Once the final deed is signed, you are the legal owner of the property. It’s time to pop some Champagne!