Key points about this information item Property purchase process in Midi-Pyrenees, FranceInformation Description:
Our guide to buying a house in the Midi-Pyrenees, France
This short guide will give the essential information to help find your way through the buying process in France once you have found the ideal property. Our seperate guide to finding the perfect property aims to help you narrow down the search.
Who is involved
Immobilier (Estate Agent)
The Immobilier is acting for the seller in the first instance, but it is in their interest to keep both sides happy and achieve a sale. The agent should keep you constantly informed of progress with the sale and help with finding information for you, particularly if you are still in the UK. If your French is not very strong, the Immobilier can act as a translator if their English is proficient, otherwise you can employ a translator.
The Notaire is a government representative and as such is impartial and able to act for both the vendor and purchaser. The vendors will appoint a Notaire to handle the sale of the property and it is quite usual for the same Notaire to act for the purchasers. You can appoint your own Notaire to act on your behalf if you wish and the cost will be the same as the fee will be spilt between the two Notaires. You may also appoint an English speaking legal representative if you are uneasy with the legal documentation being in French to advise you. Take a look at our guide to the Notaires Role in the house purchase.
The ownership of a property can sometimes be very confusing if the property has been handed down through generations. All family members with a stake in the house must agree to the sale, the sale price and sign both the Compromis de Vente and the Acte Authentique. This particular area could cause a delay if there are a number of owners.
The Immobiliers fees are payable by the purchaser and vary between 4% and 12% depending on the price of the property.
Again the Notaire fee is paid by the purchaser and will be between 2% and 8% of the purchase price.
There are a number of compulsory surveys that the vendor has to pay for, checking for lead, asbestos in the property and an electrical system report. In addition, depending on your location, a termite inspection may also be required.
This is a land tax and is calculated based on the type and size of land you own. It is due in October for the following year and paid in full by the owner of the property. When you purchase the property, you will have to reimburse the vendor for the remaining part of the year from the date of the Acte de Authentique up to the 31st December.
This is based on the rental value of the property and is due in November or December. Part of this will include the TV licence fee which is around 116€ per year.
The inheritance laws are weighted in favour of the children of the deceased and the spouse comes after them. It is important to take legal advice before the Acte de Authentique is signed, as it is easier and cheaper to add a clause to change the beneficiaries at this stage then later on.
Okay, you have found that elusive perfect property and you have carried out all the checks! What happens next?
A number of steps need to take place;
Sign a preliminary contract
A seven day cooling of period starts
Sign and return the mortgage documents if required following the ten day cooling off period
Sign the Acte Authentique
There are a number of different preliminary contracts, so it is essential that the one you are signing is explained to you. The most common are the Prommesse de Vente and the Compromis de Vente, with the Compromis de Vente being the most favoured of the two. The Compromis de Vente will be drawn up by either the Agent selling the house or the Notaire.
This document sets out exactly what is being purchased and the agreed price and can have a number of clauses (clause suspensive) added. The clause suspensive will need to be agreed by both seller and buyer. It is normal to include an opt out clause if a mortgage can not be obtained, allowing either the seller or buying to cancel the contract if a mortgage has not been agreed within a set time limit. Other clauses can be included, such as the successful application for planning consent or completion of a survey, but this is less common and may not be accepted by the seller.
A completion date will be set during this phase, but this is only an anticipated completion date and is not set in stone. The Notaire is acting for the state and will have no qualms in delaying proceedings until all required legalities have been completed.
Although this is called the Preliminary contract, it is very comprehensive and you should expect to be with the Notaire for around two hours reading through the documentation. Once the Compromis de Vente is signed there is a cooling off period and at this point a deposit of 10% is normally required, which should have been deposited in the Notaires account prior to the meeting.
Cooling off period
There now starts a seven day cooling off period, during which the buyer can decide to cancel the purchase. To do this, it is essential that a recorded delivery letter is sent to the Notaire within the seven day period. If you decide to opt out, your deposit should be returned within 21 days.
Once the seven days have elapsed, your only way out of the contract is by invoking one of the clause suspensive, if there are any.
Between the Compromis de Vente and Acte Authentique
This period may last three months or more and it is essential to keep in close contact with the agent and check the progress of the purchase.
The Notaire will now conduct searches to establish title to the land and property and any public works that may affect the property. In addition, standard inspections for lead, asbestos and termites will be arranged. Note that the Notaire will not check for any planning applications that have been submitted or proposed development of adjoining land that is owned privately. It is our responsibility to visit the Mairie to check this.
You should now contact your mortgage company, who may require a copy of the Compromis de Vente before sending the mortgage documents to you. There is a compulsory ten day cooling off period before you can sign and return the documents to your lender. It is worth keeping in touch with your mortgage company to ensure this all goes smoothly.
The Notaire will prepare the Acte de Vente or Acte Authentique and request the funds in time for the signing of the Acte Authentique.
Signing the Acte AuthentiqueAssuming all goes to plan, the interested parties will reconvene on the previously set date to complete the sale. The legal documentation will be checked again, a final signing will take place and the property will be yours.
The Notaires de France website now has some useful information in English.
Online plant sales, based in Escanecrabe, Midi-Pyrenees, France