Specific Steps in buying property

In France, it is common to sign a preliminary contract. A contract, known as a ‘compromis de vente’, a ‘promesse de vente’, is entered into early on in the process, and commits the vendor and buyer to an agreement that concludes with a deed of sale. The agreement is drawn up and handed to the notaire overseeing the completion of the sale together with the deposit. The preliminary contract gives the details of the parties and the property, and the price and the completion date when the signing of the final deed of sale takes place. At this stage, a deposit of 10 per cent of the purchase price is paid by the buyer to the notaire.

When all the procedural formalities and searches have been concluded, the notary will summon the parties to his office for the signing of the final deed. The formalities leading to completion usually take between two and three months. The notary will ask for the balance of the purchase monies and the costs to be sent directly to his bank account. Many buyers complete the purchase by using a power of attorney, which effectively gives someone (e.g. the notary’s clerk) the power to sign the contract on the buyers behalf.

The notary will stamp and register the title deed which can take about six months. A certified copy of the purchase deed, or expédition de vente, is then sent to the notary by the land registry who usually keeps it on behalf of the buyer. This is the only evidence of ownership available. If a buyer requires evidence of his ownership after completing the sale, he can ask the notary for a declaration –attestation de vente– to this effect.

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